Late Harvest

A quick reminder to fans of all things small and crunchy: it is not too late to plant miniature radishes and carrots!

I have rummaged around my house to find a couple large, wide containers. One of the containers is filled close to the top with soil from my back yard, while the other’s soil is significantly more nutritious, boosted by compost. I’ve made sure that the soil is loose and breathable.

Into the compost-containing container go my leftover radish seeds – the ones I didn’t get around to planting earlier in summer.

The container with the less nutritious soil is for miniature carrots. Carrots shouldn’t be pampered—something I learned this summer, when my compost-nourished garden yielded white, flavorless, fat carrots with massive leafy tops.

It is late in summer now, which is why shorter carrots are ideal. Carrots are, after all, slow growing, taking 60-80 days to mature if they are normal sized. Small carrots the size of a thumb are not only sweeter, but they take only 20 days to maturity. This means that sowing your seeds in early September is totally doable, and the container’s portability provides a safety net if cold weather hits before your veggies are ready to pick. Keep your carrots in a sunny spot, and water them as soon as their soil gets dry. Make sure the container can drain excess water. I like having holes bored in the bottom of my planting containers. Place the container on a surface that isn’t afraid of a little (or a lot) of moisture.

Radishes are naturally fast growing and, depending on the variety, can appeal to a lot of different tastes. I found my garden-grown radishes have a clearer, less spicy flavor than store-bought. I eat them plain. Their greens, too, were wonderful after a thorough rinse and a sauté in organic butter. Radishes should be picked sooner rather than later—water them well, keep them in nutritious soil, and if you see any flower buds forming in the center of their greens, nip the bud.  Keep radishes in moderate light, and make sure your container drains well. Like the carrots, you want to keep the radishes hydrated, but they will not be happy living in a swamp!

Growing your own miniature veggies is a fun thing no matter when you’re planting, but given that it’s the end of the growing season, you have the perfect opportunity to grow dwarf varieties of your favorite root vegetables. Miniature carrots and radishes not only look good in your kitchen, they also make cute gifts that are one-of-a-kind: I like wrapping up a bundle of washed, dried veggies, green tops still intact, in a pretty tea towel. Seize the day, and plant right away!

A chef’s mix packet grew into this. Do note the size of the radishes—even the longest ones cannot be larger than 2 inches. After a certain point, the radishes only grow tougher and spicier, not larger.

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