If you’re looking for something a little different in your garden this year, give watermelon radishes a try. Sometimes mistaken for turnips, these very large radishes are actually an heirloom variety of the daikon radish. In their native China, these unique vegetables are called shin-ri-mei (“beauty in the heart”), with their innocent-looking pale green rinds giving way to a brilliant red center.
Fast Facts About Watermelon Radishes
- Watermelon radishes are sweeter in flavor than traditional radishes. Traditional radishes sharpen in flavor as they grow larger, but these mild beauties actually sweeten over time. You can delay your harvest until the flavor is just right.
- Shred or slice watermelon radishes raw for a colorful salad topping, or substitute them in cooked recipes calling for turnips or rutabagas, or preserve them by pickling. And don’t forget a few creative slices for garnish!
- Like other varieties of radish, watermelon radishes are cool-season vegetables that thrive in early and mid spring. They’re easily grown from seed sown straight into the garden just before the last spring frost.
By choosing heirloom varieties of vegetables, not only are you preserving a piece of history, but you’re also playing an important role in maintaining much-needed diversity in the plant and food worlds.