Radish is a cool-season, fast-maturing, easy-to-grow vegetable. Garden radishes can be grown wherever there is sun and moist, fertile soil, even on the smallest city lot. Early varieties usually grow best in the cool days of early spring, but some later-maturing varieties can be planted for summer use. The variety French Breakfast holds up and grows better than most early types in summer heat if water is supplied regularly. Additional sowings of spring types can begin in late summer, to mature in the cooler, more moist days of fall. Winter radishes are sown in midsummer to late summer, much as fall turnips. They are slower to develop than spring radishes; and they grow considerably larger, remain crisp longer, are usually more pungent and hold in the ground or store longer than spring varieties
Where to grow:
Radishes grow well in almost any soil that is prepared well, is fertilized before planting and has adequate moisture maintained. Slow development makes radishes hot in taste and woody in texture.
When to grow:
Spring radishes should be planted from as early as the soil can be worked until mid-spring. Make successive plantings of short rows every 10 to 14 days. Plant in spaces between slow-maturing vegetables (such as broccoli and brussels sprouts) or in areas that will be used later for warm-season crops (peppers, tomatoes and squash). Spring radishes also can be planted in late winter in a protected cold frame, window box or container in the house or on the patio. Later-maturing varieties of radishes (Icicle or French Breakfast ) usually withstand heat better than the early maturing varieties and are recommended for late-spring planting for summer harvest. Winter radishes require a much longer time to mature than spring radishes and are planted at the same time as late turnips (usually midsummer to late summer).
Sow seed 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep. Thin spring varieties to 1/2 to 1 inch between plants. Winter radishes must be thinned to 2 to 4 inches, or even farther apart to allow for proper development of their larger roots. On beds, radishes may be broadcast lightly and thinned to stand 2 to 3 inches apart in all directions.
Although many gardeners will tell you radish do not transplant well we have had good results from our seedling plugs. Radishes are happier sown directly into the bed but as many novice gardeners use our site we have included seedlings as they are such an easy crop for the beginner to grow.
Make a hole with a dibber or suitable stick (A piece of an old broom handle is ideal). Place the seedling plug in the hole and firm gently around the roots, water well.
Radishes mature rapidly under favorable conditions and should be checked often for approaching maturity. Harvest should begin as soon as roots reach edible size and should be completed quickly, before heat, pithiness or seedstalks can begin to develop
Pests and diseases:
Root maggots may tunnel into radishes. These insects are more common above 40 degrees north latitude. Apply a suggested soil insecticide before planting if this insect previously has been a problem.
Pull radishes when they are of usable size (usually staring when roots are less than 1 inch in diameter) and relatively young. Radishes remain in edible condition for only a short time before they become pithy (spongy) and hot. Proper thinning focuses the harvest and avoids disappointing stragglers that have taken too long to develop.
Winter varieties mature more slowly and should be harvested at considerably larger size. Once they reach maturity, they maintain high quality for a fairly long time in the garden, especially in cool fall weather. Size continues to increase under favorable fall conditions. Daikon or Chinese radish, can achieve particularly large size and still maintain excellent quality. Winter radishes can be pulled before the ground freezes and stored in moist cold storage for up to several months.
Radishes have often been dismissed as decoration and garnish. They are actually members of the cruciferous vegetable family so eat the greens. Because they vary in keeping quality, radishes are classified as winter or summer. Summer radishes are the small ones of bold red, pink, purple, white or red and white. They may be globe-shaped or elongated, fiery hot or mild.
Harvest summer radishes when they are small and tender for optimal flavor. Oversize summer radishes can become tough, woody, hallow and strong in flavor. To check a large radish squeeze gently, if it yields to pressure it is likely to be fibrous. These will do well in the compost heap.
Chinese radishes, round and fat, are milder in flavor. Remove greens before storing; remove roots just before preparing.
The word daikon means "great root" in Japanese. In cool weather, daikon growth is quick and steady. The fully mature daikon can grow up to about 18 inches long and weighs 5 or 6 pounds. There are several varieties. Some are thin and long, while others are short and round. All radish greens are edible.
Save the young thinnings of both summer and winter radishes. They are delicious with tops and bottoms intact. Both summer and winter radishes store well in the fridge once the tops have been removed. The radish leaves cause moisture and nutrient loss during storage. Store greens separately for 2-3 days. Refrigerate radishes wrapped in plastic bags for 5 to 7 days. Winter radish varieties can be stored for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.
Summer and winter radishes are most often eaten raw. Use a stiff vegetable brush and scrub radishes under cold running water. Do not peel summer or black radishes. Pare away the top and root end then slice, dice, shred, or serve whole. Large Chinese and Japanese varieties hold up well during cooking. They can be eaten raw, preserved or substituted in any recipe calling for turnips.
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