The radish originally came from Europe. It is a member of the Brassicaceae family which includes a large assortment of radishes, cabbages, and the mustard family. The radish is a great little vegetable that you can use for salad or just eat by itself. The radish has flavors that run from being mild to the extreme of hot and spicy. Several parts of the radish are usable. You can use the leaves and even the seed pods to add to soups or salads.
Harvesting the leaves is a simple process. Either pull up the whole radish and remove the tops or you can cut just a few leaves off of each radish. I use the second method and pick just a few leaves off, because this allows me to pick the youngest leaves. The younger leaves are the most tender and the flavor isn't quite as strong. The older the leaves the stronger the flavor becomes. They get tougher and have a rougher, slightly thorny texture to them. A lot of times your radishes won't form a radish on the root. However, you can still pull them up and use to eat.
How to use
You can use the tender leaves in salads and and some people even make a radish pesto out of them. You can add some dressing to them and eat them as a small salad by themselves. The older leaves can be used in stir fry. They taste delicious fried in butter with a little soy sauce, salt and pepper. You can put them in soups to add flavor or you can make a creamy radish leaf soup out of the leaves.
When to harvest
Harvesting depends on what type of radishes you have planted. Size is a determining factor, also. They need to be a size that is useful, which usually means the root has not reached one inch in diameter. Radishes taste better when they are younger, so the earlier you pull them up, the better. However, if you prefer them to be spicier, wait a little longer. Some types of radishes take longer to mature, so research the variety of radish you are planting for a guide on when to harvest.
Edible radish pods
When you have used all the leaves that you feel you can, there is still another use for the radish plant that is usually overlooked. When the radish goes to seed, you can eat the seed pods. These are an extra that many who eat the radish and the leaves don't even know can be eaten. The young pods are tender and resemble a green bean in texture. The flavor is a cross between a radish and a green bean. You can use these just as you would green beans or even pea pods. They can be added to soups and salads or even stir fry them as you would the leaves.