Radish Seed Pods: A Spicy Secret
I readily admit that I’m not the gardener of the family; what little gardening I do is under direction from my beloved Kipp, who plans the vegetable garden, does the heavy lifting, maintains the compost piles, and tells me what to plant where, and when to harvest what. The arrangement is entirely satisfactory, and I’m happy to throw in a little weeding and watering from time to time.
Kipp, on the other hand, is assiduous when it comes to the garden, always looking into new ways to grow more and better vegetables. One of his most useful resources is Storey Publishing’s Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardeners’ Handbook, by Ron and Jennifer Kujawski, which he picked up two years ago when it was released.
It was in this book that he discovered the wonder that is radish seed pods.
Radishes are easy to grow; they’re a no-brainer. Plant the seeds throughout the growing season and in a short time you will have radishes to eat. It’s that simple. The problem for the home gardener with limited space is that you can easily consume your entire radish crop in one meal.
That’s where radish seed pods come in. Instead of harvesting your entire next crop of radishes, let some stay in the ground. The leaves will grow into tall stalks and sprout flowers, which will then turn into thin, firm, green pods, some lightly speckled with red, depending on your radish variety. The pods are edible, and delicious; they’re crunchy with a snap of spice and mellower than the actual radish root, though the spice level depends on the variety you plant. But don’t let the pods get too big, or they’ll lose some of that crispiness.
Next to their great taste and texture, the best thing about radish seed pods is that they grow prolifically; each plant can sprout hundreds of seed pods. So unlike the radish root, a small planting will produce big yields.
Like the sugar snap peas that we recently harvested, I prefer to eat radish seed pods raw as a refreshing snack. You can toss them in your salads, or use them whole as crudité to scoop up and spice up mellow dips like hummus. You can also stir-fry or sauté them with your preference of other ingredients.
We have been wondering why so few veggie lovers know about radish seed pods; everyone we have shared ours with has been both surprised and delighted. Of course the garden cognoscenti are up on this matter; author and garden blogger Margaret Roach clued me in to the fact that some radishes, called “rat-tailed,” are grown specifically for their tasty pods. Now that the secret is out, we fully expect to see radish seed pods crop up at farmers’ markets before long, like garlic scapes, once viewed as trash and now sold for cash. — Bess Hochstein