Common Name: Radish (Raphanus sativus)
Seed Saving Level: Advanced; radishes are insect-pollinated plants that will cross with all radish varieties.
Planting: Sow directly 1/2 inch deep in cool soil and 1 ½ inch in warm soil, 1 inch apart. When seedlings are about two inches tall, thin the plants to 4-inch spacing. If not thinned, you're likely to end up with shriveled, inedible roots. Plant in full sun or partial shade, water moderately. Radishes can be planted every 2-3 weeks for successive planting. Take a break over summer (radishes don't like heat).
Harvesting: Radishes can be harvested in just 3 weeks for some varieties. Look for firm, smooth, bodies, bright colors and healthy, green leaves.
Seed Saving: White or purple and white flowers will appear prolifically and are very attractive to bees. After the flowers fade, the seedpods form. Green at first, they turn tan as the seeds mature and the plant dries. Harvest stalks when the pods are dry. Hang upside down in a bag to catch seeds or lay on a sheet to dry. Rub dried pods in your hands or gently crush or flail. Winnow to remove chaff.
Sources: Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners (2002) by Suzanne Ashworth, Complete Guide to Saving Seeds (2011) by Robert Gough and Cheryl Moore-Gough, Burpee, Old Farmer's Almanac, Seed Savers Exchange
Recipe: Radishes with Bacon Butter
4 ounces bacon
½ tsp. caraway seeds
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp. lemon juice
Sea salt and black pepper
2 T. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 small shallot, finely chopped
4 bunches radishes (about 2 pounds), trimmed, leaving 1 inch of stem
Pulse the bacon in a food processor until it is finely chopped or finely chop by hand. Cook the bacon in a 10 inch cast iron or heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it is browned, about 8 minutes. Stir in the caraway seeds and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool to room temperature.
Beat the butter with an electric mixer in a medium bowl with the bacon mixture and any fat from the skillet, the lemon juice, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper until the bacon butter is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Fold in the parsley and shallot and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve the radishes with the bacon butter. Serves 8.
Source: The Farm: Rustic Recipes For a Year of Incredible Food (2012) by Ian Knauer