What to do when you are gifted a leftover Chinese white radish head + some green-brown leaves by your father-in-law, with hopes that you will be able to grow some white radish greens?
Short answer: do not say no, find the excitement, and try regrowing it. Ha.
Here is what it looked like: A little sad, with greenish-brown stalks/leaves and a tiny tiny head of radish left.
Chinese white radish 白蘿蔔, also commonly known as daikon 大根 (Japanese), chai tow 菜頭 (Taiwan/Hokkien), is a favorite in Chinese cuisine. I have been eating white radish as long as I can remember, but I have never known that the leaves were edible. Supposedly there’s a famous Chinese cuisine 雪裡紅 that is made with white radish leaves. Learn something everyday.
First step, as always, is to scour the internet for information.
Good news – YES, white radish leaves are edible!
Bad news – all online information found are on regrowing carrot greens, nothing on regrowing Chinese white radish or daikon. Hmm….
We have established that saying no is not an option, so it’s now time to get excited and try it out. Learning from regrowing The Accidental Celery, here’s the plan:
1. Soak in shallow water, making sure the water is not touching the base of the leaves (I’m assuming this will prevent rot from too much water). Place in partial shade.
As with the accidental celery, I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I was a little skeptical of the survival rate of this little guy. I should be used to surprises now, which I have been getting bountifully along my three-week-old balcony farming journey. Learning to let go of some control.
Here’s what he looked like just after a night. Looking much more alive!
2. Change water and water-spray the leaves + base daily, be patient and observant.
3. On Day 5, the old stalks were starting to soften and some were falling off. I removed them all with my hands (they easily fell off so I didn’t need scissors), while being careful not to hurt the leaves.
By this time, younger leaves were sprouting and growing quite well. Also noticed green potential sprouts at the base, yay! With this observation in mind, I became even more careful with the water height, making sure that none of the potential sprouts were drowning in water.
Old stalks softening and falling off
After all old stalks were removed
4. By day 8, the leaves have grown much larger and the base was getting a little soggy and soft. I decided it was time to move to soil.
With having just a tiny radish top, I wasn’t especially particular with the soil depth. But I looked up the requirements for planting Chinese white radish and will be following similar requirements and adjust as needed.
- Soil: Slightly acidic potting soil with good drainage
- Watering: Water when soil gets dry
Note: I read when planting radishes for root harvest, it is advised not to let the soil dry out to avoid fibrous root; while also making sure that the soil is not too damp which may cause root rot. Since I’m interested in harvesting the leaves only, I’m going to go with watering when the soil gets dry to avoid overwatering.
- Sunlight: Yes to sunlight, but may move to partial shade when it gets too hot (radishes are cool temperature vegetables)
- Soil Placement: Cover all of the radish root (the white part), but leaving the base (with potential sprouts) out in the air.
After a day in soil (day 9), the base has hardened and dried slightly.
5. On day 10, I made a difficult decision to trim off the largest leaf. Ouch.
This leaf was on the radish top from the beginning, and hence not a new growth. Even though it did continue to grow throughout the past 10 days, ends of the leaf were turning yellow and I noticed a cut in its stalk. It was difficult (for me), but I figured cutting it off would direct more energy and nutritions to the younger, potentially healthier leaves.
A cut in the stalk of the largest leaf
Ends of the largest leaf turning yellow
Hopefully I made the right decision…
Moving forward, will have to observe growth, and decide when to fertilize. Hopefully it will grow large enough for harvest! We’ll see.
The Vege Girl Project: Day 22