Balcony garden in July … serpent radish …

This is one of the many plants that I am growing for the first time this year … serpent or rat tail radish.

I saw the seed packet by chance when I was browsing through the seeds section at a little shop which sells local produce in the Ballenberg Open-Air Museum during our excursion there in October last year. The name ‘serpent radis’ and the picture of the radish on the packet caught my fancy … and I told the hubby that I would like to try to grow it.

As usual, the hubby was game for me to try to grow anything that I fancy. And so we bought a packet of serpent radish seeds from that little shop … as well as a packet of sugar snap pea seeds and Hungarian round pepper seeds.

So far, I have already harvested the sugar snap peas … both as pods as well as pea shoot tips .. and I really love the taste of both. The Hungarian round peppers as well as the serpent radish plants, on the other hand, are just about to gift me with their fruit … in particular, the serpent radish should be ready for harvesting real soon. Or … it could already be harvested right now, but since this is my first time, I am not too sure when I should start picking them. I will have to find out lah!

So despite the expensive price tag for these organic heirloom seeds, I must say that it was worth it to see all of them germinating easily and growing quickly, too! And if the taste of this unusual radish is as good as the common radish that I grew in my balcony garden … then, I believe that I will grow only them for the rest of summer for our radish fix!

The photos will explain why I am thinking of doing so.

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The plants, when they were in the midst of flowering about two weeks ago. And if this is your first introduction to the serpent radish plant … like me … yes, it is a very tall plant … so unlike the rest of its namesake. But the look and texture of the leaves are very much the same as the common radish. These are the main plants  … which I grew in a bucket. Although the packet indicated that they should be planted 30 cm apart, I decided to try my luck and grew 3 plants in one medium-sized bucket.

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And since there were still four seedlings left … I decided to put all the four remaining seedlings into a small pot as it would be a waste to discard them and also for replacing those in the buckets that might fail to prosper. However, all of them grow reasonably well … including the extra seedlings despite being cramped in a small pot!

Interestingly … despite growing from the same batch, the colour of the flowers are not all alike. While most are white or have slight purplish tinge …

… some like the ones on the left picture are more of lilac colour while the ones on the right picture are light pink. Incredible.

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After the flowering, come the fruit or the so called ‘radish’! And I was quite surprised and pleased to see that there are so many of them on a plant. Unlike the common radish, the serpent radish bears the edible part of the plant … above ground instead of underground.

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It is the pod and not the root that is eaten. But it is supposed to taste just like the common radish. However, since I have not tried them yet, I cannot attest to this lah. But soon … 🙂

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From thin and skinny, the pods have now become fatter and longer. Some of them should be ready for harvesting very soon.  Although they appeared quite big on the above picture, they are not as big as the picture seems to imply. So I think I need to give them a bit more time before harvesting any to try.

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The extra plants growing in a small pot were moved onto the garden shed to make space for other plants on the balcony floor. The plants in both containers are no longer very leafy as I had trimmed some of the dried leaves … but as long as there are plenty of pods, it is fine by me! 🙂

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The plants are still flowering and continue to form flower buds … and if allowed to bloom, will develop more pods. But as aphids seem highly attracted to this plant … to the pods as well as the cluster of flower buds … I chose to make my life easier (and so as not to use too much insecticide even if it is an organic one), by snipping off the budding tips that have too many aphids. It might mean losing out on more pods … but I have every intention of sowing more if they prove delicious! I believe it is still not too late to sow more of them.

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Although most of the pods are straight … these particular pods from one of the extra plants have interesting shapes. They reminded me of birds with a very long beak, do you not think so? 🙂 So it was a good thing that I did not throw away the extra seedlings or I would not only have more edible pods to harvest … nor will I have seen these interesting shape pods!

I must admit that I was surprised to learn that serpent radish actually originated from South East Asia, the region where I come from … as I had never seen nor knew of its existence before this. So it was nice to become acquainted with it here in Europe … as a result of my interest in gardening.. As they say … better late than never … to know … the things that come from your own region lah!

Now … I cannot wait to see if I will like the taste of this unusual radish!

And also … as you might have deduced from the photos … it makes sense to grow this form of ‘radish’ on our balcony as it is very space saving! So many radishes to harvest from just a few plants. I loikeee … 😀

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