The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Oilseed radishes decline early in 2012

Dying oilseed radishes

The harshness of mid-November took its toll and our beautifully yellow-green beds of oilseed radishes are dying back early this year. 

Decaying radish leavesIt's fascinating to see which plants succumb first.  The ones on the shaded, north sides of beds in the least-sun-exposed front garden turned slimey over a week ago, followed by overmature plants and overcrowded young plants elsewhere.  In stark contrast, the pasture of oilseed radishes, although it grew slowly in the partial shade during the fall, is still looking vibrantly green due to the mitigating effects of the trees overhead.

For comparison's sake, we didn't see our radishes decline like this until January last year.  That means we're probably getting less biomass bang for our seed buck this year, and will need to lay down a mulch to keep winter weeds at bay before long.  But I think the oilseeds still paid for themselves even with the shorter growing cycle.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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You had a 12 degree freeze. Was there anything you could have done to save them?
Comment by Gerry Thu Dec 13 09:01:07 2012
Gerry --- I probably could have saved them with quick hoops, or possibly just a row cover draped over them. But since there wasn't any warmup in the ten day forecast when it hit, I figured that might just be winter setting in early.
Comment by anna Thu Dec 13 11:26:01 2012
My radish/rape experiment worked out ok. We haven't had hardly any rain since August so not much bio mass but the deer are coming in herds to eat the greens. I took a doe towards the end of Oklahoma rifle season and am hoping for another after christmas (we get a bonus antlerless season this year).
Comment by Phil Thu Dec 13 11:28:33 2012
I planted oilseed radishes this fall and so far they are doing great. We had a heavy frost last night, but if it takes a deep freeze to kill them, mine might last through the winter. This is the first year I've tried them, so I'll see.
Comment by Sara Thu Dec 13 12:01:38 2012

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