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Wikimedia Commons photo provided by Le Grand Cricri, used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.


When Leova, my heroine in The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar, still had a home and her freedom in Saxony, she and her family cultivated radishes around this time of year.

Radishes appear on a list of plants Charlemagne wants in his gardens in Francia, but all classes grew them. It is possible Saxons would have raised them on their plots as well.

These veggies might have been among the first springtime vegetables on early medieval tables. Radishes can be sown as soon as the soil is workable, and they reach harvest size in as little as 21 days.

Today, most of us eat the roots raw as part of a veggie tray or salad, but they are versatile. They are delicious when added to stews, and their flavor becomes milder as they cook. Their tops also can be cooked and eaten. Although I have yet to try radish-top soup, I have no doubt that medieval peasants, always fearful of hunger, would add them to the pot.

The sight of the rounded root poking through the soil would have been welcome indeed.


Daily Life in the Age of Charlemagne by John J. Butt

Guide to Cultivated Plants by A.T.G. Elzebroek

The Victory Garden Cookbook by Marian Morash

Burpee’s All About Radishes