Lifecycle of Radishes Gone Rogue

This spring I started seeds of a long, red, Italian radish variety called ‘Candela di Fuoco.’ They did well enough considering the strange weather that season — I ate the crunchy roots and sautéed the greens.

When two stragglers bolted in the heat, I let them go and ate their flowers. The plants continued to grow all through the summer, forming into wild masses of tentacled branches, bitter leaves, pretty flowers, and seedpods. These too were edible, and we ate them fresh and crunchy straight off of the plant and in salads until they became hard, mature, and unpalatable.

These now inedible seedpods continued to grow and expand into the late summer months, first developing into thin, knobby witch fingers and later, turning dry and crisp. I harvested the fully matured pods, crushed them by hand, and packaged the seeds into envelopes with the intention to begin anew early next spring.

Amazingly, their story did not end here. There were too many seedpods for one person to catch (or bother with) and many seeds escaped. Those that jumped ship fell into the beds and into the mulch outside the beds. Some of them sprouted; I even ate a few. And as the winter cold and hard frost set in I let the rogue plants that remained be, believing that they would perish soon enough. However, while we have had some cold periods, the weather in Toronto has warmed up unseasonably a few times. Somehow, the radishes that remained in the mulch lived on. And not only did they live but they grew!

Imagine my surprise recently when I pushed aside some wet mulch and discovered several small, pinky-sized radish roots underneath. I ate them — they were good!

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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12 thoughts on “Lifecycle of Radishes Gone Rogue

  1. That is so neat! We have a rouge Brussels sprout plant that still hasn’t done much by way of making sprouts, but somehow it has survived an entire year (including snow). Plants are always so fun and surprising. :)

  2. I love winter veggies! The plants are amazing creatures, aren’t they?
    I just harvested a bunch of greens and radishes from the community garden. They were covered with plastic sheet and snow, but as you lift it, the bed was warm and cozy, the soil never froze, and the plants (arugula, lettuce, boc choy, radishes and dwarf kale) looked pretty happy. The growing season officially lasted 10 months this year, March through December (I’m just north of Chicago, in Milwaukee).

    • I also have some that are protected in one pf the beds, but what shocked me was that these are not protected in the slightest and they grew in mulch with almost no depth! So they don’t even have the advantage of soil or the added warmth that a raised bed can offer even without protection. Surprising plants.

  3. My husband and I are starting our first “serious” attempt at gardening this year. We are considering growing a podded variety of radish this year for long term storage. I’m curious, have you tried pickling the pods?

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