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Those Rattail Radishes

We removed the remaining plants from the Demo Garden today, and I’ll share those pictures and thoughts with you over the next few weeks. I wanted to start with this one, though!

The Rattail Radishes are grown for their edible seed pods that can be stir-fried or eaten raw. From that standpoint, our planting was a bit of a failure. If I had thought it through before, I would have realized that expecting a root vegetable to bolt in the fall was a sketchy proposition.

Only one of the plants managed to bolt and flower. Even then, only a few of the flowers turned into seed pods before it got too cold. Those green spikes in the middle of the picture? Those were the two, lonely “rattails” from this endeavor. The exciting part was pulling the plants up!

Look at those roots! That one huge one is at least 15″ long. You can see, looking at these, why some types of radishes are recommended for planting as cover crops. Those roots can help loosen clay soil, and they mine the deeper soil for nutrients. Then those nutrients are available in the upper part of the soil as the plants decompose after freezing in the winter. Anyway, these roots aren’t really meant for consumption (although I’m sure you could eat them if you wanted to), but we wanted to cut the big one open to see what the inside looked like.

As you can see, there’s a nice crack down the center of the root. It was probably caused by moisture fluctuation or overly fast growth. I did taste a piece of it, and it was really watery and fairly bland. The texture wasn’t completely pithy yet, but it was getting there. Yuck!

Fall Root Vegetables

Ah, the best laid plans…! Obviously I didn’t get very many posts done this week, since a whole host of other things claimed my attention. I think that we are probably done with Friday PhotoEssays until next year unless we get some picturesque weather. In a month or so, we may do some catalog reviews/new variety reviews as those catalogs start rolling in. For now, I have a few more topics to blog about from the fall portion of the garden, starting with a look at some of the root vegetables.

Some of the radishes and turnips were looking ready to harvest, so I pulled the biggest ones and got some good pictures. (You may have guessed that from the Radish Salad recipe that Denise posted on Monday.) I also pulled a few of the parsnips, since some of them are supposed to be better for fall harvests and some are better for spring.

First up: Turnips!

We have 3 varieties of turnips. From the upper left, going clockwise: Golden Ball turnip, Early Flat White turnip, and Scarlet Queen turnip. There were some larger Scarlet Queen turnips a couple weeks ago that I gave to a Master Gardener to try a soup recipe. All of these varieties look good and productive. The Early Flat White turnips seem like they might be a little more difficult to deal with due to the shape. These turnips all went into a Turnip & Parsnip Gratin that we had at a Master Gardener class.

As you can see, there are some interesting things going on with the parsnips! Varieties, again from the top left, going counter-clockwise: Javelin, Albion, Cobham Marrow Improved. The 3 problems in evidence with these varieties are side-splitting, forked roots, and some type of canker. My As you can see, both of the Javelin parsnips are problematic (I had pulled a third earlier that was also split), one with a split and one with a canker. The Albion parsnips displayed two crazy forked roots and one small, nice root. The Cobham Marrow Improved had two nice roots and one split.

So what happened here? My suspicion is that the side splitting is probably due to moisture fluctuation, if you can imagine that! The canker could quite possible be Parsnip Canker or some other type of root rot/root damage. The forking roots is what has me really confused. Usually forking roots like that is indicative of one of two things: root knot nematodes (please, no!) or a physical obstruction that caused the roots to split (really, in a sand + compost soil?). I did see some references to excessive nutrients causing the forking, but there weren’t a lot of reliable sources for that. I didn’t see other signs of nematodes, so I guess something else happened with the Albion parsnips. When we pull the rest of them, we may see if I just had bad luck pulling those two or if there’s something about that variety that is problematic. Just form this sample, it would seem that the Cobham variety did the best. We’ll have to see what the final harvest brings!

When I was poking around the internet looking for parsnip information, I came across this blog post that seems like a novel way to grow parsnips – almost like mini-raised beds for your parsnips! I’m intrigued… http://ukveggardeners.com/profiles/blogs/side-splitting-parsnips

Ah, the fall radishes. Aren’t those daikons enormous? From the top left, clockwise: Watermelon radish, Alpine Daikon radish, Nero Tondo (Black Round) radish. Again, all of these varieties look great, and I’m particularly impressed with the daikons. They could be longer, but this variety isn’t one of the really long ones.

I’m really happy with the color on the Watermelon radishes this year. Sometimes the center color is much more faded or only in the very center. I wonder if it is due to the weather or to the seed source this year. We got our seeds from High Mowing, which is different from where I’ve purchased them in the past.

Watermelon, anyone? Okay, that would be just mean, wouldn’t it?

I think we are going to pull the remaining root vegetables and harvest some of the greens next Tuesday, since there is a forecast low of 22 on Tuesday night. (Yes, I know it will probably change. Yes, I know the roots probably won’t be damaged anyway. Yes, I know we could put on row covers.) I think most of the roots are just about as big as they are going to get for the year, so we might as well get them pulled out. Stay tuned!

Friday PhotoEssay

Here we are on what is purported to be the last hot/warm day of the year, with a precipitous temperature drop coming this afternoon/evening as the front moves through. I’m ready for fall! I know that some people are even ready for a hard freeze to kill off some of their tomato vines.

There were some big changes in the Demo Garden this week. Can you tell? All the vines are gone from the vertical garden area as are all of the eggplant. I think we are probably going to pull out the tomatoes next week. No, they won’t be completely done and dead, but most of the tomatoes will be harvested and the remaining green ones probably won’t ripen quickly. Of course, all the things in the two fall garden beds are looking great and will probably appreciate the cooler weather!

The Swiss Chard and Arugula in the Pizza Garden are ready to start harvesting…I guess we’ll have to get on that and make some fancy pizza, huh?

In the category of “what a difference a month makes,” the spinach that we replanted a couple weeks ago is growing well, next to the sole plant that survived from the August planting.

Some of the root vegetables are starting to size up nicely. This is one of the Scarlet Red Stems turnips. You can see that some of the surrounding plants are still small, but this one looks nice. There are several that have started getting close to harvest size.

The ‘Nero Tondo’ radishes are also developing some nice roots. These still have a ways to go as far as reaching full size (think baseball sized), but it’s nice to see that they are starting to size up. It just occurred to me that some people might find the rather scaly-looking, grey-black skin off-putting. I wonder what it says about me that I just think it is cool and not the least bit distasteful? (It probably also helps that I’ve eaten them before.)

Ah, my friends the Watermelon Radishes. I’ll admit, this one is looking a bit like a purple top turnip at the moment. I’m sure it will turn out to be a nice pink radish though. I think the ones with pinker outer skins often have better interior color.

The ‘Rattail’ Radishes are getting some nice roots on them, but no “rattails” yet. I realized a couple days ago that planting a cool season vegetable that you harvest the seed pods from was probably not the right choice for a fall garden. I’ll be surprised if these actually develop the edible seed pods at this time of year, unless we get a hot week after a couple weeks of cold. (I’m thinking that’s not likely, but I guess I could be wrong.)

Have a great weekend!