Saturday, 15 October 2016

Grains of Paradise with Radishes


Quite a few hundred years ago pepper wasn’t so available so it was really expensive.
So what did spice merchants do to get the most out of this rare commodity?
They adulterated it with this Grains of Paradise, a particular spice that was considered inferior to pepper.
Now the tables have turned and this spice is the rare commodity and  it definitely isn’t used to bulk up your pepper corns.
Let’s find how to use it.
I'm talking with Ian Hemphill, owner of and author of the Herb and Spice bible.

The Grains of Paradise plant looks just like a Cardamom plant with those mid green strappy leaves. The main difference is that the flower stems are  hidden down inside the leaves.

Grains of Paradise plant
Grains of Paradise is still wild harvested and no commercial way of growing the plant has been formulated.
Although Ian recommends using Grains of Paradise in slow cooking, there are recipes on the web which suggest you can rub the ground grains onto your steaks, kebabs and fish before throwing them on the Barbie.
There’s even recipes which include the grains in marinades for vegetables, fish and chicken or in a lemon vinaigrette.
If you have any questions about Grains of Paradise or have some recipes to share, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


 Watermelon Radish Raphanus sativus acanthiformis.

Have you thought why we don’t see too many radishes being served up in salads these days except for the floral radish on the side?
Yes, they seem to have gone out of favour but that’s about to change
The word radish stems from the Roman word “Radix” that means “Root”, and it belongs to the mustard family.
Did you know that radishes were first grown in China thousands of years ago, then in Egypt before the building of the pyramids?
What’s more interesting is that in Ancient Greece the radish was so revered, that gold replicas were made and offered to the god Apollo.
Perhaps the Pandora people can make a gold radish to hang off their bracelets?
As usual there are myths and legends about eating vegetables throughout history and in England in the 1500’s,  it was rumoured that eating radishes cured kidney stones, intestinal worms and gave you a blemish-free complexion.
If only that were true.

Watermelon Radish
Today we’re concentrating on one particular type of radish although there are many types, and that is the watermelon radish.
Watermelon radishes are an heirloom variety of Daikon radish.
They’re a member of the mustard family, which includes arugula or rocket and turnip.
An interesting watermelon radish fact tells us that the Chinese word for these radishes is ShinRi-Mei, meaning “beauty in the heart.”
That name is because the inside of the radish is a lovely rose pink, much like the colour or watermelon flesh.
They’re also known as Misato, Asian Red Meat or Radish Rose Heart.
Their Latin name is Raphanus sativus acanthiformis.
What Does It Taste Like?
As to what watermelon radishes taste like, they have a milder, understated taste compared to other radish types and are a bit less peppery in flavour.
Unlike other radish types, the flavour actually mellows even further the more mature the radishes become.
Radish Watermelon You'll never see this one on the supermarket shelf.
When you slice through the bland looking white skin of this radish you’ll see that it looks like a mini watermelon with white 'rind' surrounding a bright pink interior;
Radish watermelon is delicious.
Note: This type of radish takes longer to mature; instead of 28 days , you’ll be waiting double that.
The unusual varieties are available through mail order seed companies such as Eden seeds  online.

Growing Radishes.
But there is more than one way to grow radishes.
Not only are radishes sown direct in to the vegetable garden, but radish seeds can be even grown in a sprouter and eaten just as you would eat mustard and cress or any other sprouted bean or seed.
When to sow.
Radishes grow in all climates and like to be in moist shady places, especially on hot summer days.
Plant them all year round in tropical and subtropical areas, in temperate zones they can be grown almost all year except winter, and in spring, summer, and autumn in colder districts.
Radishes are closely related to cabbages, so they need much the same type of thing.
The best thing about radishes though is that they’re quick, being ready 6-8 weeks after planting and because of that you can plant them among slower growing veggies like carrots.
TIP: Radishes will take light frost. And radish seeds can be sown directly into the garden when soil temps are above 40 C. but germinate best between 120-230 C.

To sow seed, make a shallow furrow (about 6mm deep,) lay down some chicken poo pellets or something similar, cover with a little soil and sprinkle in some radish seed. They also love a dose of potash.
You could also fill the furrow with compost or seed raising mix and water it in.
Important TIP: Seedlings will appear in a couple of days but makes sure you thin them out to 5cm apart otherwise your radish won’t grow into a big enough sized root for the dinner table and you’ll end up with mostly leaf.
Feed with a liquid fertiliser such as worm tea every week at the seedling stage.
Tip: As radish is one of the fastest growing vegetables, too much fertiliser causes the leaves to outgrow the root.
Long leaves have no shelf life, just look in your local supermarket
Add caption
Pick the radish when they are the size of a ten cent piece and leaves about or 10cm long.
Make sure radishes have enough water and don't let them become too enormous.
If they are water deprived or get too big, they can become bitter.
How to Cook with Watermelon Radish?
Radish flavour is best when they’re eaten raw.
Think radish and lentil salad or in pasta salad.
Tip: soak your radishes in iced water for a couple of hours for extra crispness.
You can also pickle those radishes or cook them by roasting or steaming and them mashing.
You’ll lose that pink colour  of watermelon radish though.
Why are they good for you?
Radishes are a very good source of fibre, vitamin C, folic acid and potassium, and a good source of riboflavin, vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, copper and manganese.
Radishes are also mildly anti-inflammatory, which is another good thing. A diet containing anti-inflammatory foods can help to control inflammation in the body, which is an underlying factor of so many allergies and illnesses.


This series is about garden styles which RWG has visited over the years with different designers.
Saying the words tropical garden style probably conjures up swaying palms, white sandy beaches, azure coloured ocean with a backdrop of tropical jungle?

Certainly there’s a water element, and a palm or two somewhere, but what else is there and can you go tropical in cool temperate districts?
Tropical Style Garden
All these questions are answered in the podcast. I'm talking with Landscape Designer and consulting arborist Glenice Buck

Tropical Styles in Garden Design
Large leaves immediately give you that tropical feel, and as for palms, be creative and go for more exotic palms like the Flame Thrower palm which grows a bright red new leaf.
Not all palms have to be tall.
You could perhaps choose the Walking Stick palm which grows to only 2-3 metres.
Whatever palm you choose, please don’t plant that weedy Cocos Palm whose leaves look like they been shredded by an eggbeater.


Hellobores, Helleborus x hybridus,

They’re a dependable addition to your garden with flowers that last for many months from late winter to early Spring.
They love the shade , they’re not weedy and they’re quietly beautiful.
You wouldn’t think these plants would be on a plant collector’s list but they are.
So what’s so good about them?

So let’s find out. I'm talking with the plant panel were Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal  and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.

Botanical Bite
The flowers have five petal-like sepals surrounding a ring of small, cup-like nectaries which are actually "petals" modified to hold nectar.
The sepals  remain on the plant, sometimes for many months.
Flowers colours range from apricot, yellows and greens through to soft and deep shades of pink, maroon and even deep, dark plums or slate greys and, of course, cream to crisp whites.
There's also spotted or picoteed (narrow band of colour on edge of petals) whilst others may feature double petals for a ruffled, romantic appearance.

Some say the secret to grow Hellebores is addling garden lime or dolomite.
Others say grow them under deciduous trees.
Lenten Rose is really only Helleborus orientalis, while those with a range of colours are hybrid Hellebores.
Wherever you grow them, grow lots of them, because that’s how they look best.


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