Guy Critelli of Madeira Beach displays a 24 1/2-pound Italian white radish he grew in his home garden on Pelican Lane.
MADEIRA BEACH – When Guy Critelli received some radish seeds from his sister in Italy, he didn’t waste any time planting them in his home garden.
But as time progressed, it became evident these weren’t your normal run of the mill radish seeds.
Like a chapter out of “Jack and the Beanstalk,” a pair of Italian white radish plants continued to grow through the winter into early spring. Then last week, Critelli pulled one from his rich garden soil and discovered he had a very large root vegetable.
It measured 29 inches long, 6 inches wide and weighed 24 1/2 pounds.
“I don’t know how it happened,” said Critelli, who used to operate Mr. C Concrete in Seminole. “I just soaked the ground a lot.”
A quick search on the Internet showed it’s not the largest radish on record. That honor goes to Jeevan Singh Bisht of Meerut, India, who harvested a 10-kilogram (about 22 pounds) radish that measured 4 feet, 4 inches in length and 14 inches in diameter.
However, it is one of the largest ever grown in Florida, according to Theresa Badurek, an urban horticulture extension agent with the Pinellas County Extension Office.
“I would say it is definitely out of the ordinary,” Badurek said.
Badurek checked the records at the University of Florida and discovered the largest radish on record weighed 25 pounds. It was grown in Hillsborough County in 1977.
Another, which tipped the scales at 23 pounds, 5 ounces, was grown in Alachua County in 1992.
“If it weighs more than 25 pounds, we could have a state record,” Badurek said.
Part of Critelli’s success could be attributed to the soil he planted the seeds in. Instead of using the usual sandy soil found in the area, Critelli planted in an organic bed of cow manure, topped with a layer of mulch.
His formula for success is evident in another radish plant that grew a couple of feet away and produced a visible 23 1/2-inch radish. This one hasn’t been harvested yet and its seeds will ultimately be used for more plants, Critellli said.
The bigger radish, which Critelli said has a sweet flavor to it, will be sliced up and pickled by his wife Grace for future consumption.
“We like to boil and fry them,” he said.
Critelli, who has lived in the area for 31 years, has enjoyed gardening since he was a boy growing up in Italy.
In addition to his radishes, he also grows tomatoes, grapes, fava beans and rosemary in his Pelican Lane garden.
He also owns 80 acres in Gilchrist County where he grows chestnut and olive trees.