White Radish (Fijil Abiyad)
A prolific turnip-like radish plant with large white roots that are robust and spicy. Their large leafy mustard flavor greens can be eaten fresh or cooked. The radish is traditionally served with a “khudthra” plate of herbs that is a fresh accompaniment to the main meal, for snacking and adding to fresh bread wraps called laffa. Radishes can also be roasted or added to sour “hamudth” Iraqi stews. This plant is vigorous, growing thick green seed pods, which are delicious in their own rite, and will easily self seed the following season. To avoid bolting, plant radishes in the cooler shoulder seasons.
The round of “fijil” seed that Truelove grew out is originally from al-Mastafa market in Sadr City. Below is a photo of Wafa’, an Iraqi farmer in Baghdad who is a part of “Guez wa Nahl”, the Iraqi Food Sovereignty Network, holding freshly harvested beets and white radish from her farm in Dora, a neighborhood in southern Baghdad.
These seeds were cultivated by the Iraqi Seed Collective, a group of diasporic people of Mesopotamian heritage who are saving seeds to uplift and preserve ancient culture from the fertile crescent.
Due to years of war, colonialism, and the destruction of the Iraqi national seed bank during the 2003 US invasion, and present-day, ongoing waterway diversion by Turkey and Iran, traditional Iraqi plant varieties and seed saving practices have been disrupted and threatened. We have a responsibility to help keep these endangered varieties – stemming from the dawn of agriculture – in circulation.
Days to maturity: 60
Seeds per pack: 80-100
Germination rate: 91% on 10/10/2023
Planting / harvesting notes
Directly sow radish seeds in loose soil after danger of frost in early spring, and again in late summer for fall crop. In frost free areas, sow in the fall. Space rows at least 6" apart, and thin seedlings to 2-3" apart within the row.
Seed keeping notes
For seed saving, leave them in for 65-80 days until the pods fully dry and become crunchy/crispy. Harvest the seedhead below the lowest ripe seed pods, and hang in a sunny, dry place if it needs to dry a little more. Thresh seed pods by pushing through screens, rubbing between your hands, or stomping in buckets. Sift out larger chaff and use wind, breath, or fans to winnow away the lighter weight chaff from the seed.