Translated from Mandarin, the Chinese call this vegetable “Beautiful Heart Inside.” Indeed!
Watermelon radishes are simply stunning to behold, but tasting it is altogether another world: devoid of classic radish heat, these roots the size of baseballs (and larger!) are sweet, crunchy and succulent — even after they’ve been in your cellar six months! In short, this vegetable is as delectable as it is beautiful, versatile as it is abundant and one of our very favorites.
In the fall of 2013, Remembrance Farm in Trumansburg, New York grew about 10,000 watermelon radishes. We selected 400+ of the best radishes, selecting for excellent size within great field competition as well as non-splitting roots. Crates upon crates were promptly tucked into the root cellar to over-winter.
By late April, 2014 there were the 300 radishes that made it through the winter with no signs or rot or spoilage.
Next, we start “cheeking” each radish to select for inside pigment. Our Holy Grail? Roots with a thin, distinct white layer and uniformly vibrant rose centers.
Roots with large, indistinct white rings and limited rose coloring on the inside are rogued (their seed will not be saved), but they are still excellent eating!
Only 130 radishes made the cut. Planted in late April, they are now growing vigorously and we look forward to harvesting seed from their 5′ seed stalks in August.
A quick math problem: 10,000 radishes planted in the field, 400 last fall were selected and put into winter storage, this spring we planted 130 radishes that met all our selection requirements. What percentage of radishes from the initial 10,000 were selected for seed? And the impossible question: how many seeds will we harvest this summer?
Whether grated fresh on salad, added to coleslaw, roasted or sauteed, we love watermelon radishes and are thrilled to be selecting, saving and sharing this seed with the world!