Thursday, July 6, 2017

Veggies Til the Cowpeas Come Home

Daikon radish (Raphanus sativus) gone to seed
This might just look like a hot mess, but it's actually hundreds of daikon seeds ripening on some of my biggest roots. The pods themselves are edible when green and younger, but now I think they're probably only good for seed-saving.

In my first year or two of gardening, I tried growing a lot of veggies in our solid clay soil.

Frustrated by my lack of success, I mostly gave up and focused on ornamentals.

Recently though, I've started tiptoeing my way back into growing food.

I've had some fair success with basil - including a couple of volunteer basil plants the last couple of years.

Last fall and again this spring, I planted daikon radishes (Raphanus sativus) from Sow True Seed. This crop plays multiple roles - the leaves function as a cover crop, the roots are edible, the seedpods are edible and any roots left in place should hopefully decay and thus work as a no-till soil amendment. The fall crop did OK last year despite a drought and the spring crop this year did even better, producing good-sized roots and literally thousands of seedpods.

I ate some of the pods (found I liked them best raw), but ultimately ended up just composting most of them. I'm allowing the pods to mature on some of the biggest roots to save seed and/or let them naturalize a bit.

Meanwhile, as the radishes bolt and fade in the summer heat, I've started some 'Southern Brown Sugar' cowpeas (Vigna unguiculata- also from Sow True Seed - one of my favorite seed companies!) for the first time.

I'm very impressed with the germination on these seeds. I think almost all my seeds sprouted in under a week and seem to be off to a strong start!

Vigna unguiculata / cowpea seedlings
Cowpeas looking good so far!

And then there's the tropical roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa), which I sowed in the garden about a month ago. Germination was a bit slow on these and the seedlings are fairly slow-growing. I'm a little worried that I should have started them indoors and that they won't have time to mature and flower in a single season. (I believe they're actually perennials in zone 9 and warmer, but they'll almost certainly behave like annuals here in zone 6-7.)

To read about roselle's edible uses, you can check out this publication from Purdue University.

Hibiscus sabdariffa / roselle seedlings
Grow strong, little hibiscus!


Follow Aaron Dalton on Feedio