Select Essays on Commerce, Agriculture, Mines, Fisheries, and Other Useful Subjects (1754) pp. 242-244
Tobias Smollett

Radishes for Sallad, used by the Rev. Fathers Minimes of Passi

THAT which the Botanists call horse radish, and range in the class of Turnips or Rapa, is a plant so wholesome and agreeable, that gardeners study to have them at all seasons; but, notwithstanding all the pains they take, those only succeed which come up in the spring and autumn. The Winter-Radishes are insipid, and those of Summer, strong and disagreeable; equally influenced and injured by the frost and by the heat of the sun; they are used in perfection only during a small part of the year; and the Fathers Minimes of Passi, commonly called the good men, are the only persons who have found means to have them good at all times; with this difference, however, that their production is much more slow in winter than in summer.

These fathers, out of their uncommon generosity, and with a view to the public advantage, have communicated to us, the secret of cultivating them, that we may impart it to the public in our journal. — It was from them that the revd. fathers Penitents of Piepus, had the same receipt, which they now practise with success.

Take a quantity of the ordinary horse-radish seed, steep it in river-water, for the space of four and twenty hours; then put the whole wet as it is, in a little linen bag, well secured with pack-thread: but if you have steeped a great quantity of the seed, it must be divided into several bags: expose the bag or bags to the heat of the sun, for about four and twenty hours. At the expiration of which, the seed will have begun to shoot, and you must sow it like any other grain, in land well exposed to the sun. Prepare two tubs of such dimensions, as that the one will exactly cover the other; these may be easily procured, by sawing a cask into two equal parts. These two tubs will serve for the winter; for, in summer, one will be sufficient for each kind of earth that is to be sown. For which reason, it must be previously marked with the tub, that you may not sow more seed than the other tub will cover.

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Immediately after the seed is sown, it must be covered with a tub, and at the end of three days, you will find your Radishes as large as small Civet,* of a white colour, having at their extremity two small, round, yellow or reddish leaves about the earth, and ready to be cut or plucked for Sallad. These are of a much more delicate taste than the ordinary Radishes, which are always eaten with salt.

By taking these precautions, you may have them in the most severe frosts. After having steeped the seed in lukewarm water, and exposed it to the sun (as we have already observed) or in a warm place, so as that it shall shoot; warm two tubs, fill one of them with earth well smoaked, there sow your seed, and cover it with the other tub. You must take care to water it always with lukewarm water, and to carry the two tubs exactly placed over one another, and well joined, into a cellar, or some warm place under ground: at the end of fifteen days, you may gather your sallad.

The reverend Fathers Minimes, were the first who found out this method of cultivating horse-radish: and it is to be hoped, that as they are of a quality superor to all others, the utility of them will not be confined to the pleasures of the table; but, that medicine which employs the ordinary kind of Radish, on a great many occasions, will reap much more considerable advantage from this preparation.


CybeRose note: This article obviously deals with radishes, rather than what we call horse radish. The confusion seems to involve translation from French. We see the same thing when Sagaret crossed a black radish by a cabbage. Herbert mistakenly supposed that the cross involved the horse radish.