As I mentioned in this post, we had an early heat wave here, causing some of my garden plants to bolt.
My radishes were also a victim of the heat. It hit at just the right (or wrong!) time for the radishes to begin growing extremely tall instead of growing nice, juicy radishes. They grew over three feet tall and began flowering in just a few days.
Once radishes bolt, they become basically inedible. The roots become woody and dry, not at all like a juicy radish I want in my salad.
Fortunately, radishes still have benefits after they bolt.
First, radishes are a great “trap crop” for critters like flea beetles. These nasty little bugs can devastate leafy veggies like parsnips, lettuce and kale, which happen to be some of their favorite munchies. They love radishes, too, so if you let your radishes continue to grow after they bolt, the flea beetles will flock to them for a tasty snack…where you can dust them with Sevin and make them go away permanently.
Second, radishes produce seemingly hundreds of seeds from their flowering stems. You can wait until the pods dry out, and then shuck the seeds from them to store in a dry place for next year’s garden.
Or, you can pick the pods while they are still green and toss in salads or eat them plain. They taste sort of like a radish combined with a sugar snap pea: crunchy and juicy but very small and with the spicy bite you’d expect from a radish.
All is not lost when your radishes bolt; you just have to change your strategy. And, if you wait until the fall months when it cools off again, you can plant another radish crop that might just have time to grow some juicy slicing radishes before winter hits.