Radishes: Tiny Investment, Big Dividends…

     I like an occasional radish mixed in with my salad, but I don’t particularly plant them for their culinary qualities.

Even though they are beautiful and tasty, I mostly plant radishes as a catch-crop, near my broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages, squashes, and cucumbers to deter cabbage moths and beetles from ruining my most prized produce.  They do a great service in this regard — I notice far more holes in the radish leaves than I do in the other crops that are planted nearby.

  Recently, however, they’ve taken on a second purpose, and that’s as a fodder crop for the goats.  When the radishes have grown as big as baseballs and are producing lots of flowers, I remove them from the bed, cut them up, and feed them to Ginger and Maryann.  They love the flowers and stems more than they do the actual root, and completely devour them on the spot.  But after two or three days I’ve not seen a single piece of cut-up root left over either.

Given that radishes are so cheap, easy to grow, and produce so quickly, I succession plant them all over the garden for a continual harvest throughout the growing season (their flowers are so cute that I’ve even started sowing seed in the front yard mixed flower beds to add some temporal interest).  It’s great to know that, although I don’t eat a lot of them, radishes are still a great asset to my gardens as a pest deterrent, and a goat food supplement, making it easier and cheaper for me to garden organically, and provide food for our goats; they also work, surprisingly well, as a flower, providing unexpected, ornamental beauty in both my vegetable and flower gardens, and pollen for buzzing bees.

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