FIVE REASONS TO RELISH THE RADISH

By Engrid Winslow

  1. There are two primary types of radish – one hails from Asia (the most common ones are daikon which is large and white) but there is also the large sweet and remarkably pink Watermelon Radish.Photo of Watermelon Radish packet.

Watermelon radishes are delicious raw and can be substituted for a cracker in crudités and they also make a crunchy addition to stir-fries. They are often used in Chinese cuisines with fish dishes because it adds sweetness and counteracts fishy tastes.

2. Radishes are very easy to grow and can be sown in the garden as soon as the ground can be worked. Cover the seeds with about 2 inches of soil and thin them out once they sprout. They germinate quickly and all at once so, to keep them from getting overly large and fibrous, they should be sown multiple times throughout the season.  They grow well in cooler temperatures which makes them a good spring and fall crop. One that is delicious cooked or raw is Cherry Bell.

Front of the Cherry Belle Radish seed packet.

 

 

 

3. Do you want a taste of France in your radish? French Breakfast Radish is an heirloom variety dating back to the 1800s. It gets its name from a popular and delicious breakfast enjoyed throughout France. Want to give it a try? Just thinly slice the radishes lengthwise, grab a hunk of baguette and smear it with some sweet butter, top with radish slices and a sprinkle of salt. Close your eyes, take a bite and then say “Ooh, La, La!”

 

 

 

4. The White Icicle radish is similar to but smaller than, Japanese daikon. It is another heirloom variety that is easy to grow but is very versatile because it can tolerate warmer temperatures and grow well into summer weather.

Front of the White Icicle Radish packet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Try it in this

APPLE RADISH SALADFront of the Carnival Radish Blend seed packet.

2 Granny Smith Apples

1 bunch sliced or julienned White Icicle radishes

Dressing:

Juice from one orange (lemon is also good here)

2 tsp honey

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

¼ cup olive oil

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

 

5. Want to really add some color to your fish or other tacos? Shred this colorful blend from the Carnival Blend radishes and pile it on with a squeeze of lime and some chipotle mayo. All radishes are good in slaw but this one gets bonus points for the interesting colors.

 

Or try this version of a vegetarian radish taco where the radish is the star of the dish. This version is modified from superstar chef Anita Lo’s book Solo.

ROASTED AND PICKLED RADISH TACOS                

Serves 4

3-4 bunches of radishes washed (reserve the tops and 10 of the smallest radishes for later)

1/3 cup olive oil

4 smallish tomatillos, husk removed, cut in half

3-4 small jalapenos, cut lengthwise with stems and seeds removed

1 tsp cumin

One small onion, sliced thinly

3 garlic cloves, smashed (reserve 1 for later use)

6 Tbs cider vinegar

2/3 cup water, divided in half

¼ tsp cinnamon

Juice of one lime

1 Tbs chopped cilantro

8-12 corn or flour tortillas

¾ cup queso fresco, crumbled

Extra lime wedges for serving with tacos

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place all but the reserved radishes, their tops, the olive oil, the tomatillo and half the jalapeno in a bowl and toss with salt and pepper. Remove the tomatillo and jalapeno and place on one side of a roasting pan. Add the cumin and cinnamon to the bowl of radishes and toss again. Place radish mixture (except for the tops) on the other side of the roasting pan. Bake until softened, about 12-15 minutes.

Make radish pickles: Cut the reserved radishes in thin rounds and place in a bowl with the rest of the jalapenos and the onion. In a small sauté pan bring the vinegar, 1/3 cup water and two of the smashed garlic cloves to a boil and pour over radish rounds. Set aside to cool to room temperature and drain.

When the roasting vegetables are soft, remove the tomatillo and jalapeno and blend with immersion blender. Add tops of radishes to roasting pan and roast until wilted. Place the remaining third garlic clove in with the tomatillo, cilantro, lime juice, 1/3 cup water and blend to make a salsa.

Serve roasted radishes in warm tortillas garnished with salsa, pickled radishes and queso fresco. Serve with lime wedg1es.

BONUS REASON TO RELISH RADISHES – All of our radish seed packets are on sale! Whoop! Whoop!

https://www.bbbseed.com/product-category/store/heirloom-vegetable-seeds/

 

 

 

TOP 10 VEGETABLES FOR PART SHADE

by Heather Stone

Do you have a garden that gets more shade than sun, but you still want to grow vegetables? No problem! There are plenty of vegetables that will grow well with partial sun. We’ve put together a list for you of vegetables that perform well with 6 hours or less of direct sunlight. Read on to find out how to keep yourself in fresh veggies all season by making the most of your shady spots.

 

 

  1. Mesclun Greens (Needs 3 hours of sun)

Mesclun is simply a “mix” of various greens. All of them doing well with just a few hours of sunlight. They germinate quick and reach maturity in a matter of weeks. Try our Mesclun Mix– a great combo of arugula, mustard greens and Chinese cabbage.

  1. Arugula 3-4 hours

This delicious peppery green is easy to grow and loves the cool weather. Plant in early spring about 1 month before the last frost and continue sowing every 20-30 days until mid-summer. Grows well in containers. Try our Wild Arugula!

  1. Lettuce 3-4 hours

Lettuce is a cool-season green that isn’t a big fan of direct sun. The varieties are endless and so easy to grow in the ground or in containers. Plant in early spring and again every two weeks for a continuous supply of lettuce. Make sure to provide shade for the late spring and summer plantings.

  1. Spinach 3-4 hours

The nutrient-packed leaves of spinach love cool weather and protection from the full sun. Spinach is an easy to grow and productive crop that every garden should find a spot for. Like lettuce and arugula plant in early spring and sow successively every 2 weeks for a continuous supply of spinach. Try our Bloomsdale or Nobel Giant varieties.

  1. Kale 3-4 hours

A powerhouse of nutrition, kale is easy to grow in the ground or in containers. The young tender leaves of kale are great in salads. The mature leaves are excellent sauteed or added to soups and stews. Start in early spring and continue you to sow for fresh greens all season long.

  1. Swiss Chard 4-5 hours

Easy to grow from seed and looks fabulous all season long Swiss Chard’s beautiful leaves are easily planted in the perennial garden as well as the vegetable patch.

  1. Radish 4-5 hours

There’s nothing like a fresh spring radish. They are quick to germinate, fast to mature and come in a rainbow of colors. We carry 5 different varieties! No garden should be without radishes.

  1. Peas 4-5 hours

Peas do fine in partial shade in either the garden or the container. They are pretty quick to germinate and prefer cool weather. So get them in the ground early and you’ll have peas to snack on in early summer.

  1. Beets 4-5 hours

Beets can thrive along the shady edge of the garden. The roots might not get quite as big, but if you keep them well watered they will produce excellent tasting greens and sweet, tender roots.

  1. Bok Choy 4 hours

This cool season vegetable germinates in a few days and can be eaten raw or cooked.  Bok Choy is an excellent addition to the part shade garden.

 

AN EASY WINDOWSILL HERB GARDEN

Graphic of herbs in pots.

photo courtesy of pixabay

by Heather Stone

Are you are itching to get your hands in the dirt, but outside the ground is covered in snow? Well, a windowsill herb garden might be just the thing to get you through until spring finally arrives. Every kitchen and every cook deserves fresh herbs. They will help liven up not only your cooking but your gardening spirit too. Check out our herb collections here and here!

 

To get started make sure you have a sunny windowsill that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight. If you get less than that you will want to provide some additional lightening or your herbs will struggle.

Photo of basil growing in a pot on the windowsill.

photo courtesy of pixabay

Next, purchase some small starter plants from your local nursery or garden center or try starting your herbs from seed. Starting from seed may take a little longer, but it’s less expensive. When choosing plants or seeds pick herbs you know you like to cook with. Some great herbs for containers include thyme, basil, cilantro, parsley, chives, oregano, dill, sage, mint and savory.

 

Whether you are purchasing plants or starting from seed you will need containers and quality, lightweight potting mix. If you are starting with plants make sure your container(s) have a drainage hole(s) and are roughly 6-10” in diameter. Start by adding some potting mix to the bottom of your container. Next, place your plant in the pot and gently fill in and around it with more potting mix, leaving around an inch of room at the top for watering. Gently press the soil down and water well. Most herbs don’t like their soil too wet so make sure to test your new herb plants for water by sticking your finger an inch or two below the soil surface. If you find the soil is dry, it’s time to water. Fertilize your new herb garden once a month with a ½ strength liquid fertilizer. Be sure to give your plants some time to get established before you start harvesting.

Photo of Cilantro sprigs in a cup.

photo courtesy of pixabay

If you are starting from seed, you can plant in smaller containers to start and pot up as your plants get bigger. Fill your containers with a damp potting mix. Sprinkle 4-6 seeds on top of the surface. Gently press them in and cover lightly with more potting mix. Cover with a plastic bag or plastic wrap and place them in a warm, sunny windowsill making sure the soil surface stays moist. Once your seeds start to sprout, remove the plastic. Keep your new sprouts watered whenever the soil surface feels dry and watch them grow.

 

Here are some herbs that are easy to start from seed:

 

Basil

The dried version is no comparison to fresh basil. With so many uses and so many varieties to choose from basil is an easy choice for the indoor herb garden.

 

Cilantro

Cilantro is easy to start from seed and germinates in 7-14 days. Use the fresh leaves in salads, sauces and to garnish a wide array of dishes.

 

Parsley

Parsley is both productive and attractive when container-grown. It takes a bit longer to germinate, 12-28 days, but it’s worth the wait. Harvest leaves as you need them once the plant is growing strong.

 

Chives

Chives are another plant easily grown in a pot. The slender grass-like leaves are delicious and make an excellent flavoring in soups, stews, dips and salads. Sprouting in just 10-14 days you will have fresh chives in no time.

 

 

Just what in the World is Drinking Vinegar (AKA “SHRUB”)?

By Engrid Winslow

Michael Dietsch Book on Shrubs

Michael Dietsch Author

 

Drinking vinegar originated in ancient Roman times as a pre-refrigeration manner of preserving seasonal produce (including vegetables, herbs and fruit). It had a resurgence as a popular drink in 17th and 18th century England where it was typically made with rum (or brandy), mixed with sugar and the juice or rinds of citrus fruit. Meanwhile, in the American colonies, a shrub was a drink made by mixing a vinegar syrup with spirits, water, or carbonated water. The vinegar was again used as an alternative to citrus juices in the preservation of berries and other fruits for the off-season and was also referred to as a shrub. By the 19th century, typical American recipes for shrubs used vinegar poured over fruit—traditionally berries—which was left to infuse anywhere from overnight up to several days. Afterward, the fruit would be strained out and the remaining liquid would be mixed with a sweetener such as sugar or honey and then reduced to make a syrup. The sweet-and-sour syrup could be mixed with either water or soda water and served as a soft drink, or it could be used as a mixer in cocktails. This drink was immensely popular and refreshing in a time when there was no such thing as a cold drink in the summer. Vinegary and other sour drinks are better at quenching thirst than anything else in hot weather as they stimulate salivation. During prohibition, it was a popular drink again as a liquor-free alternative to lemonade. Shrubs eventually fell out of popularity with the advent of home refrigeration and the burgeoning soda business.

The serving of vinegar-based shrub drinks became popular again in 2011 in American restaurants and bars. The acidity of the shrub makes it well suited as an apéritif or used as an alternative to bitters in cocktails.

The term “shrub”, in these modern times, is a sweetened vinegar-based syrup from which the cocktail is made; the syrup is also known as drinking vinegar. The fruity flavor and acidic bite of shrubs really plays well to produce non-alcoholic cocktails and mixed drinks. You can combine flavors as well, such as pairing apricot with rosemary or grapefruit and mint. Vegetables such as tomatoes or celery make surprisingly delicious shrubs. Experimenting with different types of vinegars can lead to an endless number of combinations.

Here is a recipe for a fruit shrub from Michael Dietsch, the author of Shrubs – An Old Fashioned Drink for Modern Times.

Apricot Shrub

1 lb. apricots, pitted and sliced with skins left on

¾ cup sugar

¾ cup apple cider vinegar

Mix apricots with sugar and mash together. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in the refrigerator for 1 day. Strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove solids and combine the syrup with vinegar. Whisk until sugar is dissolved and then put in a mason jar and refrigerate for one week before using.

How to use your apricot shrub? Mix it with ginger ale and add a splash of grenadine for a modern twist on a Shirley Temple or mix it with sherbet, soda water and a shot of rum for a grown-up float.

 

IT’S BUMBLEBEE BONANZA TIME

 

By: Engrid Winslow

Bumblebees pollinate many of our food crops and garden flowers which means the conservation of the species is vital to our ecology. Some species of Bumblebees are true American natives and are most commonly found in northern climates and higher elevations. Nearly all of the estimated 250 species live in the Northern Hemisphere although there are a few species that pollinate flowers in tropical rainforests in warmer climates. They are social insects that form colonies of around 50 bees with one Queen although only the Queen survives the winter. They commonly build their nest in the ground or in crevices of rocks and are quite good at hiding their entrance.

They are capable of flying (and pollinating) at cooler temperatures and lower light conditions than other bees which makes them important pollinators for plants growing in higher elevations and colder climates that are beyond the reach of other bees. Their plump, fuzzy bodies are a welcome sight that spring is on its way at last. It’s usually the super-sized Queen out and about in early spring as she starts to build a nest and raise brood.

Bumblebees are peaceful insects and will only sting when they feel cornered or when their hive is disturbed. When a bumblebee stings, it injects a venom but unlike a honeybee sting, the bumblebee sting has no barbs. This means that a bumblebee can pull back its sting without the sting detaching from its abdomen and can sting several times. Only female bumblebees (queens and workers) have a sting; male bumblebees (drones) do not. Justin O. Schmidt, author of The Sting of the Wild and the creator of The Schmidt Pain Index rates a bumblebee’s sting at a 2 on the index which starts at 0 and ends at 4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schmidt_sting_pain_index.com.

Here at BBB, we specialize in pollinator mixes and our newest one is designed with bumblebees in mind. It is our mission to help you provide nectar and pollen because “the more flowers a garden can offer throughout the year, the greater the number of bees and other pollinating insects it will attract and support.”

Bumblebee Bonanza includes Siberian Wallflower, Rocket Larkspur, Balsam, Yellow Lupine, Arroyo Lupine, Purple Coneflower, Dahlia-flowered Zinnia Mix, Dwarf Mixed Cosmos, Gayfeather, Rocky Mountain Penstemon, Blue Sage, Northern Lights Snapdragon, Purple Prairie Clover, Lacy Phacelia and Beebalm.

Bumblebees are unique because their long tongues can reach the nectar in flowers that other bees avoid, such as penstemons, lupines, larkspur and snapdragons. They collect large amounts of pollen because they have so many hairs covering their little bodies and thrive on daisy-type flowers such as Zinnias, wallflower, cosmos and coneflower. There is a wealth of information available about bumblebees and what you can do to help them. Some of our favorites are [email protected] and https://xerces.org/bumblebees/.

Remember that the use of synthetic insecticides, particularly the ones that contain neonicotinoids are harmful to all bees. Please avoid using them in your garden, lawns and talk to your neighbors and friends about the perils of using these chemicals.  Neonicotinoids are sold under many different  names such as:

  • Acetamiprid
  • Clothianidin
  • Dinotefuran
  • Imidacloprid
  • Nitenpyram
  • Thiacloprid
  • Thiamethoxam