I had a bumper crop of radish this spring. I had meant to thin the plants but never got around to it. Oops! No worries. It seems to have worked out. These radishes even fell in love because they were growing so close together...ahhh...
I had been picking a couple radish each day to add to my salad. Then, one day I realized that one of the radish had a seed stalk and it was flowering! So, I quickly pulled all the radish. This bucket does not look too impressive but this is a 3 gallon bucket completely full of radishes!
I decided to ferment the radish. This way, I could keep using a couple in my salads over the next few weeks. I did plant some more radish as I was pulling these out. I cleaned the radish up and cut off the tops and bottoms and stacked them into jars.
I made up a salt solution of 3 tablespoons salt in 1 quart water. I used pink salt so that is why my solution is a bit cloudy and pinkish...
After packing the radish into the jars, I poured the solution in and then placed a fermentation lid on top. This allows the gases to escape as the radish ferment. It is important to keep all the radish under the solution at all times or you might get contamination.
Put the ferment in a warmish, dark place and leave for 3 days. At the end of the three days, you can take the fermentation cap off and just put a regular lid on the jar and put in the refrigerator. The cooler temperature of the refrigerator will stop the fermentation. Here is a pic of the completed ferment. Yes, the red color in the radish skin has been bleeded out into the fermentation solution.
The radish are pink all the way through...here is a pic of some pieces of radish that I am using to build my salad...they are the pink triangle shapes...
Here is a pic of the radish blooms. They sure are pretty. Some were pink and some were white.
Since some of the radish were already putting up flower stalks, I just decided to let them go so I could collect the seed. Here is a pic of the seed pods that will develop the seeds...
That is going to be a lot of seeds! Did you know...you can actually eat the seed pods! There are even varieties of radish that are grown specifically for their seeds pods. I tried some and they are deliciouis! I even found a recipe that sautéed some radish seed pods and added them to scrambled eggs! You want to eat the green pods (not when they have already turned brown and are starting to dry down). They taste like radish! Surprise! I also found a recipe for pickled radish seed pods. You can pickle just about anything. Just like you can ferment almost anything. Just a note of distinction...pickling usually involves vinegar and fermentation involves salt.
The girls got the radish trimmings and they were super happy!
Fermented vegetables do have a different taste and texture. The radish are still crunchy but they are not crisp. There are TONS of benefits to eating fermented foods:
1. they are easier to digest (they have been pre-digested by the bacteria during lacto fermentaiton)
2. fermentation makes the nutrients in food more available so they are more nutritious
3. fermented foods help our gut microbiome flourish (more good bacteria...yeah!)
4. fermenting creates new flavors and is a safe way to preserve foods
AND it is super easy to do...cut up vegetables, add salt water, let sit for 3 days, put in fridge...done! Easy peasy! I LOVE to ferment salsa and can't wait for the tomato crop to start soon!
Using worm compost, vermiculture, to make worm tea can provide lots of micronutrients to your plants in your garden. When a worm eats, the food passes through the gut and the organic matter gets broken into smaller and smaller fragments which releases the various components in it. The digestion of the food helps to release nutrients into the vermicompost. Then, the nutrients from the vermicompost are infused into the tea and this is used as a fertilizer for plants. You can use worm tea as a foliar spray to spray directly onto the plants which is absorbed through the leaves. This can be effective if the foliage is showing signs of disease. The worm tea will help the plant strengthen their defenses and fend off disease organisms.
The main reason I like to make worm tea is for that it can work as a natural pesticide. The worm tea contains an enzyme known as various forms of chitinase to which insects have a strong aversion. The worm castings also have the ability to activate multiplication of the chitinase-producing bacteria found naturally in plants. Some pests that are repelled by the worm castings or tea, include a large array of insects including white fly, aphids, spider mites, fruit flies, and other nectar-sucking insects.
4 gallons water (ideally use rain or well water because it has no chlorine; otherwise use city water but let it sit out for 24 hours before proceeding – chlorine is very volatile and will evaporate out on its own)
5 to 6 cups worm castings
3 tablespoons molasses (encourages the growth of healthy microorganisms)
Porous material for a compost tea bag (cheese cloth, dish towel, old t-shirt, etc). Optional but will prevent your watering can or spray bottle from clogging when it’s time to use the tea. Alternatively you can pour the finished tea through a fine mesh strainer into your watering can.
Fill the bucket with water. Add the worm castings and the molasses. Stir to combine. (If you’re using a compost tea bag, place the worm castings in the cloth and tie to secure it shut. Place the bag in the water.)
Let the tea steep overnight. It will be a dark brown color. Give it another stir. Remove the compost bag if using (place the contents onto the soil or on your compost pile).
Pour some of the worm tea into your water can or spray bottle and dilute with water until it is a light brown color – the color of weak tea.
Use immediately for best results. The microbes will begin dying off quickly so the sooner you use the compost tea the better while it’s most potent.
Do You Need to Aerate Worm Tea?
Both sugar (molasses) and aeration boost the microbial activity resulting in an increased microbial population. Sugar alone will do that but adding some aeration will increase it further.
If you choose to aerate it you can use a fish tank bubbler to add oxygen while the tea is steeping. Insert the aerator all the way to the bottom of the bucket. Let it aerate for 48-72 hours, stirring occasionally.
Here is a video of how I make the worm tea:
Making compost tea is similar to worm tea. I make it pretty much the same way I make the worm tea except I let it brew for 3 days and I only brew the worm tea for 1 day. It works as a great fertilizer for plants but does not contain the chitinase/pesticide benefits of worm tea. Here is a great post from Morningchores.com that describes compost tea and gives 4 recipes for making some. I have read that compost tea can also help with disease pressure but it is more a preventative and not a cure.
So, that is it. Short and sweet. It took about a week but I ended up making 4 batches of worm tea and had enough to give to every single plant in my garden. So far, so good!