Monday, 4 July 2011

Blauer Herbst Radish

Blauer Herbst Radishes

Blue?! Not really, but an unusual mauve, and look at the size! That's a standard red Cherry Belle radish with the Blauer Herbst radishes, and not a small one either.

Like Ostergruss Rosa, these are long, carrot-like radishes and a traditional German variety. The name means Blue Autumn, and they really are a radish for fall planting and winter storage. I planted some this spring, and they have done well in the cool, fairly rainy weather we have had up until recently. I also planted some last fall, and a few got left in the ground along with other varieties of radishes. The Blauer Herbst were the only ones to survive the winter in the ground, although I would not say they were particularly edible in the spring.

Perhaps because I have mostly been growing them out of season - but perhaps because they are meant for winter storage - these have been mighty intense in flavour. Downright hot. Nice, but best approached in thin slices as an accompaniment with something else. Bread and butter maybe, or very finely diced into your salad. Of course, if you cook them they lose their bite and become quite sweet and mild. Mind you, I think that even raw these are positively delicate and refined when compared to Black Spanish radishes, which are the standard winter storage radish around here.

In Germany, these would ordinarily be served with beer. I have to say that sounds like a terrible idea to me; a recipe for gassy indigestion if I ever heard one. But maybe that's just me. The flesh is white and crisp but unusually dense. I find in hot weather they get hard and woody quickly.

Radishes in general prefer cool, moist weather. Plant them in the early spring or late summer for a fall crop. These are slower than most smaller salad radishes, taking 60 to 70 days to reach maturity, so August 15th is about the right time to plant for a fall crop. They like a light, loose soil, but with a little richness to it. They are surprisingly attractive to bugs when you consider how hot they are. Flea beetles love the leaves but do mostly cosmetic damage. We have had no trouble with flea beetles (knock wood) but some trouble with little worms or grubs getting into the roots. I'm hoping our nematode army will improve that situation. On the other hand, radishes are pretty disease-free. These big radishes have leaves in proportion to their large roots, so give them plenty of space.

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