- Recommended Varieties
- When to Plant
- Spacing & Depth
- Common Problems
- Questions & Answers
- Selection & Storage
- Nutritional Value & Health Benefits
- Preparation & Serving
- Home Preservation
- Radish Sowing and Planting Tips
- Radish Planting Calendar
- Radish Recommended Varieties
- All About Radishes
- Can I Grow Radishes?
- Radish Plant History
- How To Cultivate Radishes
- Radish Plant Growing Tips
- Radish Plant Insects & Diseases
- Radish Harvesting Tips
- Radish Recipes & Storage
- The Family Tree
- Soil Preparation
- Sowing and Cultivation
- Harvest and Storage
- Diseases and Pests
- Companion Planting
- More Than a Salad Veg
- More Recipe Ideas
- Humble Roots
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.
Burpee White (25 days to harvest; round; smooth white skin)
Champion (28 days, large, round, red)
Cherry Belle (22 days, round, red)
Cherry Queen Hybrid (24 days, deep red, round, slow to become pithy)
Early Scarlet Globe (23 days; globe-shaped, small taproot, bright red)
Easter Egg (25 days; large, oval; color mix includes reddish purple, lavender, pink, rose, scarlet, white)
Fuego (25 days; round, red; medium tops; resistant to fusarium, tolerant to blackroot/black scurf)
Plum Purple (25 days, rounded, large, deep magenta)
Snow Belle (30 days, attractive, round, white, smooth)
For Spring or Summer Use
French Breakfast (23 days, oblong red with white tip)
Icicle (25 days, long, slim, tapered white)
Winter (for storage)
China Rose (52 days, white)
Chinese White (60 days; large, long, square-shouldered, blunt-tipped, creamy white roots)
Round Black Spanish (55 days; rough, black skin, white flesh)
Tama Hybrid (70 days; daikon type; roots as long as 18 inches, with 3 inch diameter; smooth, white; blunt tip)
When to Plant
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).
Spacing & Depth
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Questions & Answers
Q. What causes my radishes to crack and split?
A. The radishes are too old. Pull them when they are younger and smaller. A flush of moisture after a period of relative dryness also may cause mature roots to burst and split. Try to avoid uneven moisture availability.
Q. Why do my radishes grow all tops with no root development?
A. There may be several reasons: seed planted too thickly and plants not thinned (though some roots along the outside of the row usually develop fairly well even under extreme crowding), weather too hot for the spring varieties that do best in cool temperatures (planted too late or unseasonable weather) and too much shade (must be really severe to completely discourage root enlargement).
Q. What causes my radishes to be too “hot”?
A. The “hotness” of radishes results from the length of time they have grown rather than from their size. The radishes either grew too slowly or are too old.
Selection & Storage
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.
Harvest winter radishes when they are large and mature. Winter radishes may be white, black or green. Black radishes have a pungent flavor and should be used sparingly. Remove greens and roots before storing black radishes. 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 refrigerator 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.
Nutritional Value & Health Benefits
The popular red globe radish is low in calories with an abundance of flavor and crunch. A 1/2 cup serving (about 12 medium) of sliced radishes provides a goodly amount of potassium, vitamin C, folate and fiber. Winter radishes such as daikons are similar in nutrients.
Nutrition Facts (1/2 cup fresh sliced raw red globes)
Protein 0.35 grams
Carbohydrates 2.0 grams
Dietary Fiber 1 gram
Potassium 134.56 mg
Folate 15.66 mcg
Preparation & Serving
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.
Daikon radishes are thought to aid in digestion, especially the digestion of fatty foods. It is a common ingredient in Japanese cooking and is always grated and added to tempura dipping sauce. Young daikons can be eaten raw but the larger (more than 8 inches long) ones must be cooked. Always peel daikons. Cut up and simmered in stews and soups, daikon tastes light and refreshing rather than heavy or starchy. Daikons are often cut into paper-thin slices by talented Japanese chefs.
Daikon greens are delicious too. They can be washed, stacked, rolled into a scroll, and cut crosswise. This produces thin julienne strips which are traditionally salted and left standing for an hour. The moisture is squeezed out. The leaves are then chopped and stored in glass jars for up to a week in the refrigerator. The Japanese stir them into warm rice, they can also be added to soups and other recipes.
Due to the high water content, summer radishes do not freeze well and they are not recommended for drying. They become limp, waterlogged and develop oxidized color, aroma and flavor upon thawing. Summer and winter radishes are best pickled. Although the Japanese have a procedure for drying daikon shavings, which are added to many different recipes.
Pickled Daikon and Carrots
This is a refrigerator pickle, allow it to chill overnight before serving. Store for up to 4 weeks. Red globe radishes may be substituted for daikons in this recipe.
1/2 pound daikon or other white radish
1 carrot shredded
1 tablespoon canning salt
1 cup water
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
Wash, peel and shred radishes if using daikon. Do not peel red globe radishes before shredding. Put vegetables in a bowl, sprinkle on the salt and mix well. Let stand for 30 minutes.
Drain off water and squeeze vegetables as dry as possible.
In a small bowl combine vinegar, sugar and pepper flakes.
Place in a clean quart-size jar and refrigerate overnight or 6-8 hours. Serves 6.
Summer and winter radishes can add refreshing crispiness to salads and sandwiches. They make a delicious topping for bagels. Use them as hors d’oeuvres, snack on them, or add winter radishes to liven up many different recipes.
Open-faced Radish Sandwiches
4 bagels cut in half or 8 slices black bread
8 ounces low-fat cream cheese
6 small globe radishes
salt and freshly ground pepper
Spread bagels or bread slices with 1/4 inch cream cheese.
Using s sharp knife or mandolin, slice radishes very thin. Overlap radish slices on top of the cream cheese. Sprinkle each sandwich with salt and pepper. Cover with damp paper towels until serving.
Radish Confetti Salad
4 large radishes, washed and trimmed
1 medium carrot, trimmed
1 celery stalk, trimmed
Six to eight chives, cut into one-inch pieces
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup sweet rice vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
6 romaine lettuce leaves
Using a mandolin or box grater, shred the radishes and carrots.
Cut the celery into matchstick-size pieces. Toss the vegetables together in a medium bowl.
In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, vinegar, celery seed and salt and pepper. Pour over vegetables and toss. Serve on a bed of romaine lettuce.
Radishes with Pasta and Radish Greens
24 radishes, sliced (about 2 cups) with green tops
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
12-ounce package short pasta such as penne or shells, cooked
1/4 cup cooking water from pasta
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
Salt and pepper
Separate the greens from the radishes. Wash greens in several changes of cool water. Drain or spin dry in a salad spinner. Wash and trim radishes. Thinly slice radishes.
Heat oil in a large skillet or wok. Add onions and cook just until they begin to soften. Add radish slices and greens. Cover and cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until greens wilt and radishes look almost translucent. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper. Taste. Adjust seasoning.
Add drained pasta to skillet and toss. Add cooking liquid from pasta and stir. Sprinkle on the cheese and toss. Pass additional cheese if desired.
Joseph Masabni, Assistant Professor and Extension Horticulturist, The Texas A&M University System
Radishes are often the first vegetable harvested from a spring garden. They are a cool-season crop and do not do well in the hot summer months.
Radishes are grown for the root, which usually is eaten raw, alone, or in salads. The leaves can also be eaten, especially when they are young and tender. Radishes are colorful and good for you. For this vegetable, a row 10 feet long is adequate for a family of four.
Radishes can grow in partial shade, require very little room, and mature quickly. They are well suited to small gardens, flower beds, and containers.
Soil preparation, fertilizing
Radishes need loose, well-drained soil to allow the roots to expand easily. If the soil is crusty, the roots become misshapen.
To prepare the soil, remove rocks, trash, and large sticks from the planting area. Small pieces of plant material such as grass and leaves can be mixed into the soil to make it richer.
Spade the soil to a depth of 8 to 12 inches. Turn each shovelful completely over so all the plant material is covered. Scatter 1 cup of fertilizer, such as 10-20-10, on the soil for each 10 feet of row to be planted. Rake the soil until it is smooth and work up the beds as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1. The 4-inch ridges are very important in low, poorly drained areas. They allow the soil to drain and let air enter the soil. Space the ridges farther apart if the radishes are to be followed by a summer crop. Plant two or more rows of radishes on each ridge.
Radishes can be of the red or the white variety (Fig. 2). Some recommended red varieties are Champion, Cherry Belle, Early Scarlet, and Early Scarlet Globe. Recommended white varieties include Chinese White Winter, Summer Cross and White Icicle.
Figure 2. Red radishes, left, the most popular type, are round or oval. The white type, right, can be globe shaped or long like a carrot.
Plant the seeds as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring. Using a hoe handle, stick, or similar object, make a furrow ½ inch deep down the center of the ridge (Fig. 3). Plant the seeds ½ inch deep and 1 inch apart in the row. Cover them lightly with loose soil, and sprinkle them with water. The plants should be up in 4 to 6 days.
Make several plantings 8 to 10 days apart for a steady supply of radishes. They will be ready for harvest about 4 to 5 weeks from planting.
Figure 3. Plant seeds ½ inch deep and 1 inch apart in the row.
Care during the season
Scratch the soil around the plants lightly with a rake or hand tool to keep the soil from crusting. Water the plants well weekly if it does not rain.
Begin thinning the radishes when the roots start expanding. Pull every other plant (Fig. 4). The larger roots can be eaten; those left in the row will continue to get bigger without being crowded. Keep the radishes free of weeds, which rob weak root systems of nutrients and moisture.
Figure 4. To thin radishes, pull every other plant.
Harvest radishes when they are young and tender (Fig. 5). If left in the ground too long, they get tough, hot tasting, and stringy.
To harvest, pull the radishes, cut off the tops and small roots, and put those in a compost pile. Wash the radishes well and place them in plastic bags in the refrigerator. They will keep 2 to 3 weeks or until the next planting is ready for harvest.
Figure 5. The center, left, should be solid with no cracks. Right, an over mature radish with a pithy or cracked center.
Many insecticides are available at garden centers. Sevin is a synthetic insecticide; organic options include sulfur and Bt-based insecticides. Sulfur also has fungicidal properties that help in controlling many diseases.
Before using a pesticide, read the label. Always follow cautions, warnings and directions.
Because radishes mature so quickly, diseases usually are not a problem. Check the plants daily and treat them with an approved fungicide if diseases appear. Neem oil, sulfur, and other fungicides are available for use. Always follow the label directions.
After the radishes get too old or start going to seed, pull and place them in a compost pile if the soil is to be replanted soon. If the soil is to be left idle, the old radishes and tops can be spaded into the soil, helping to build the soil.
Download a printer-friendly version of this page: Growing Radishes (pdf)
View this publication in Spanish: Cómo cultivar rábanos
Purchase this book: Easy Gardening in Texas
Radish is a cool-season crop. Radishes are best grown in spring and fall.
Direct sow radishes in the garden 6 to 3 weeks before the last frost in spring. Sow succession crops every 3 weeks after.
Growing tip: Shorter and cooler days result in radishes with rounder roots. For mild and tender roots, grow radishes rapidly with plenty of moisture in soil rich in aged compost. When growth is interrupted by lack of soil moisture, radish roots will be hot, tough, and pithy.
Radishes mature in 21 to 35 days depending on the variety.
Radish Sowing and Planting Tips
- Start radishes from seed sown directly in the garden.
- Seed is viable for 5 years.
- Start seeds in the garden about 6 to 4 weeks before you expect the last frost in spring. Radish can be started indoors, but they—like most root crops—are difficult to transplant to the garden with success.
- If started indoors and transplanted, allow two additional weeks to maturity as a result of root insult at transplanting; nip off the long thread tip of the radish root when transplanting.
- Sow seed ¼ to ½ (6-12 mm) inch deep and be sure to heel or stamp the soil firmly.
- Sow seed 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart and later thin to 4 inches (10 cm) in all directions.
- To improve germination sow seed at dusk or on a cool, cloudy day.
- Sow seed in loose, fertile soil. Adding aged compost to planting beds in advance of sowing will feed the soil and aide moisture retention.
- Seeds should germinate in 4 to 10 days at an optimal temperature of 70°F (21C) or greater; germination will take longer in colder soil.
- Optimum soil temperature to grow radishes is 50° to 75°F (10-24°C).
- Make additional sowing at 3-week intervals for a continuous harvest, but time sowing so that crop does not mature in hot weather.
- Radishes prefer a soil pH range of 5.5 to 6.5.
- Grow radishes in full sun for best yield—tolerates partial shade.
- Fertilize with an organic fertilizer such as fish emulsion at half strength.
- Common pest enemies are aphids, flea beetles, and cabbage root maggots, cabbage worms, cabbage loopers, and wireworms. Protect the seedlings from pests and cold for two to three weeks after planting with spun poly row covers.
Interplanting: Plant radish with bush beans, beets, carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, peas, peppers, and spinach.
Container Growing Radish: Grow in a container at least 4 inches (10 cm) deep; plant in concentric circles.
Radish Planting Calendar
- 6-4 weeks before the last frost in spring: direct-sow in a plastic tunnel or cold frame.
- 4 weeks before the last frost in spring: direct-sow in the garden; minimum soil temperature 40°
- Every 2 to 3 weeks sow succession crops.
For Fall Harvest:
- 10-8 weeks before the first frost in fall: direct-sow in the garden.
- 4-2 weeks before the first frost in fall: direct-sow in the garden in a plastic tunnel or cold frame.
Radish Recommended Varieties
- ‘Cherry Belle’ is classic round and red.
- ‘Easter Egg’ is multicolored.
- ‘French Breakfast’ is long and cylindrical.
- ‘Miyashige’ is an Asian daikon radish with long white roots.
Botanical Name: Raphanus sativus
Radish belongs to the Brassicacea (Cruciferae) or cabbage family; other members include cabbage, kale, collard, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and turnips.
More tips: How to Grow Radishes.
All About Radishes
Can I Grow Radishes?
Although among the easiest and fastest vegetables to grow, radishes can be overwhelming. Every seed in a generous packet sprouts and very shortly literally hundreds of radishes are demanding harvest. If a few radishes sliced into a salad or carved into rosettes as a garnish seem to exhaust their culinary possibilities, get ready to discover new and unusual ways to prepare lots of these tangy springtime favorites.
Radishes are perfect for new and especially young gardeners. For impatient kids looking for quick rewards, radishes are as close as they can come to instant gratification. Radishes are so fast growing your children will be pulling the succulent roots in as few as 21 days from sowing! Some gardeners wouldn’t think of picking up a hoe without putting a packet of radishes in their shirt pocket. Dropping seeds among slower growing vegetables means double harvests- radishes first, broccoli later.
There are two basic types of radishes- spring and winter. The crunchy spring varieties, ‘Cherry Bomb’, ‘Champion’, ‘Burpee White’, and ‘Crimson Giant’ should be planted in early spring to mature as quickly as possible in cool weather for the best production and quality. Most spring radish varieties mature in less than a month.
Winter radishes such as ‘China Rose’ and Long Black Spanish’ require a longer growing period but are superior to spring types in many ways. They hold their quality in the garden longer, store better, and have a more distinctive flavor. By growing a number of varieties from both types, you can be harvesting radishes throughout the spring, and again in the fall and winter.
Although radishes are easy to grow, knowing when to harvest is the key to perfect radishes with crisp roots and mild flavor instead of hot as fire and as pithy as corks. For the best radishes, plant them in a friable soil when the weather is cool and provide constant moisture. Because the spring varieties, in particular, mature rapidly, you must pull radishes before they pass their prime. Radishes that have been left in the garden too long will be fit only for the compost pile. The best way to determine when to harvest is to simply push back a little soil to see if a bulb has grown and then pick and taste a few. Radishes are not nutritional giants. They are a fair source of vitamin C and iron, but aren’t eaten in sufficient quantity to be significant sources of either. It’s their crisp taste, that extra zing they add to salad and a variety of other dishes that make radishes welcome in the kitchen.
Radish Plant History
How To Cultivate Radishes
As soon as the garden’s soil is workable in the spring, put on some warm clothes and plant a first sowing of radishes. Choose a site that gets at least six hours of sun a day. Prepare a light, well-drained soil with a pH of 5.8 to 6.8 for best production. Till the soil to a depth of at least eight inches, particularly if you are planting the longer varieties like ‘Summer Cross’ and ‘White Icicle’. Then, to sow the seeds, simply make furrows about three inches apart and plant the seeds at a depth of about 1/2 inch and cover loosely with soil.
Make small weekly sowings, trying different varieties to obtain a wide mix of radishes. Because most spring varieties mature in less than a month, succession plantings ensure a steady supply of radishes. When warm weather (65 degrees or higher) arrives, stop sowing as radishes will not tolerate heat and will rapidly go to seed. However, in late summer, plant winter varieties as well as spring varieties for quick harvests in the fall.
When making succession sowings, keep in mind that the longer varieties of radishes tend to tolerate heat better than the short, round ones. Start in early spring with the small types (‘Champion’ and ‘Burpee White’), followed by the blunt radishes (‘French Dressing’ and ‘French Breakfast’), and finally plant the longer varieties (‘White Icicle’ and ‘Summer Cross’). This way, the smaller radishes will have been harvested before summer arrives.
Radish Plant Growing Tips
Consider the following five tips to get the best radishes production.
- When preparing the soil, avoid fresh manure and organic materials or fertilizers high in nitrogen. An overly rich soil will encourage lush foliage at the expense of crisp, tasty roots.
- When the radish seedlings are about two inches tall, thin the plants to three-inch spacings. If not thinned, you’re likely to end up with shriveled, inedible roots.
- Mulch the radishes with compost enriched with wood ashes. This not only keeps root maggots at bay, but also helps the soil retain moisture that could mean the difference between perfect and pitiful radishes.
- Water in moderation. If the soil is too dry, radishes will bolt and become pithy and too pungent to eat. If too wet, the roots will split and rot. Never let the soil dry out, but don’t keep it mucky, either.
- Radishes are superb companion plants, particularly when used to draw aphids, flea beetles, and other pests away from peppers, squash, cukes, and other vegetables.
Radish Plant Insects & Diseases
The worst invader of the radish patch is the root maggot. Luckily, this pest is easily avoided with a proper crop rotation. Never plant radishes in a bed that contained a cole crop in the last three years. If you incorporate plenty of wood ashes in the soil, the maggots shouldn’t present a problem.
Radish Harvesting Tips
Because they mature so quickly, spring radishes should be checked frequently as they mature. The reason many gardeners fail with radishes is because they leave them in the ground too long. When mature, pull the roots whether you need the radishes immediately or not, and cut off the leaves. Put the radishes in plastic storage bags in the vegetable crisper of the refrigerator. Use them in a week or two.
Winter radishes, on the other hand, don’t mind a little neglect. Although they can be stored in moist sand in a root cellar, winter radishes keep right in the garden under a heavy straw mulch through the winter. Pull radishes before they show new growth in late winter or early spring.
Radish Recipes & Storage
See all our Radishes
Radishes are among the easiest vegetables to grow.
Hardy and quick to mature, successive plantings in early spring and again in early fall will ensure a steady supply of crisp, piquant roots.
A good source of vitamin C, they also make a good companion plant in the garden. And every part of the radish is edible!
The peppery roots are familiar as a component of appetizers, salads, and tea sandwiches, but they can also be roasted, steamed, or sauteed.
Tender green tops add zing to any salad, and immature seed pods have a marvelous sharp taste that makes them a natural in soups and stir fries.
Let’s have a closer look at how to grow these fiery gems, the different types of radish, which other plants benefit from their company, storage tips, and a few unique serving suggestions.
The Family Tree
Radishes, Raphanus sativus, belong to the Brassicaceae, or mustard family.
Also known as cruciferous vegetables, some Brassica relatives include arugula, cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, rapeseed (canola), kohlrabi, and turnip.
Thought to originate in southeast Asia, they were among the earliest of cultivated crops, and one of the first European vegetables to be introduced to the Americas.
An annual or biennial, they’re grown primarily for the engorged taproot – which can be round, cylindrical, or tapered in shape.
Sizes vary greatly, from the small spring types like the 1-inch Cherry Belle found in most North American markets, to the large daikon and winter varieties, which can have roots as long as 24 inches.
Colors are equally variable, with shades of pink, red, mauve, white, yellow, and even black roots.
Radishes fall into three different types:
These require the cool months of early spring and autumn to develop properly, and mature very quickly, in 20-30 days.
These summer varieties are much more heat resistant, and can be sown successively from May to August.
Midseason varieties are still on the small side of the scale, and require a bit longer to mature, at 30-40 days.
Also known as winter radishes, these can be sown throughout the winter in warm regions, and late summer into autumn in temperate zones.
The winter variety have large roots and require still longer to grow, with 60-70 days needed for a mature crop.
This taproot crop is a medium to heavy feeder and likes soil that’s loose, cool, and fertile.
Seed may be sown when soil temperatures reach into the 40°F range, with the best germination rates occurring in the range of 55-70°F.
Prior to sowing, amend the soil with 2-4 inches of mature organic material such as compost or rotted manure.
An application of an all-purpose fertilizer, such as 10-10-10 or 16-16-8, using approximately 1 cup for every 10 feet of row, is also suggested.
Thoroughly work the fertilizers into the top 6 inches of soil.
A Brief Fertilizer Tutorial
For those unfamiliar with fertilizer ratios, the three numbers are always expressed in the same format – the first is nitrogen (N), followed by phosphorus (P), and then potassium (K).
Nitrogen is associated with the healthy growth of green, leafy tops.
Every plant protein contains nitrogen, and it’s essential to the compound chlorophyll, which provides leaves with their green pigment.
Chlorophyll is needed for the process of photosynthesis, which produces food for the plants.
Phosphorus is required to metabolize and transfer energy where it’s needed – from leaves to roots to developing fruit and seeds.
This makes it important in the development of strong roots for healthy growth, and for propagation in the form of prolific, robust blossoms.
Potassium (or potash) acts as a regulator. It governs metabolism, water distribution throughout the plant, and root development.
As all vegetables have leafy tops in some form, they require nitrogen in the largest amounts.
Phosphorus and potassium are also critical for leaf, root, and stem development, but in lesser amounts.
And, as cool temperatures make it more difficult for a plant to access nutrients via elemental uptake, supplements of phosphorus and potassium early in the season are vital.
Ensuring these two elements are available is critical in the first 1-2 months of growth – and once the soil warms, they’re readily available for plants to access in normal, healthy soil.
Nitrogen is often applied as a side dressing later in the season to prevent yellowing of leaves and stems, and to ensure that the process of photosynthesis flows smoothly.
In a nutshell, the application of a soluble fertilizer mixed with the soil in spring makes nutrients readily accessible for young plants to grow quickly and produce maximum yields.
Sowing and Cultivation
For spring varieties, seed must be sown in cool weather, and can be planted as soon as the soil is workable.
The seeds of R. sativus remain viable for about four years under proper storage conditions, and they germinate quickly – within 5-7 days.
Photo by Lorna Kring.
They’ll do best if not sown too closely together, in a sunny location. Too much shade will result in plenty of leafy growth, but roots will be skimpy.
Sow about one-half inch deep in trenches spaced 12-18 inches apart.
If generously spaced, about 1 inch apart, you can eliminate the task of thinning these quickly maturing veggies.
Purchasing seeds embedded in biodegradable seed tape is an easy way to sow, as they’re already optimally spaced for you. Burpee organic Cherry Belle seed tape in 22.5-foot lengths (300 seeds) is available from Amazon.
Conventional seed tape for this variety is also available directly from Burpee, as well as packets of 1000 or 2000 seeds. And Burpee also offers an organic version of this seed, in packages of 1000 seeds each.
To ensure a steady supply of fresh spring radishes, sow a row every week while the temperatures remain spring-like. Sow again in late summer and early fall, when the day’s heat is waning.
Burpee Certified Organic Seed Tape, Radish Cherry Belle
Due to their quick growth rate, cultivation and weeding are not usually needed. Because the roots are right underneath the soil surface, deep hoeing often does more harm than good, and should be avoided.
Some popular spring varieties include Champion, Cherry Belle, Early Scarlet Globe, Easter Egg, and Snow Belle. The popular Cherry Belle is also available from Mountain Valley Seed Co.
Summer varieties have essentially the same requirements for soil preparation and fertilizing, and heat resistant varieties can be sown until August.
Try a variety like French Breakfast, Icicle, or Scarlet King for summer growth – but keep in mind that these must be kept well-watered to flourish in hot temperatures.
White Icicle Seeds
White Icicle seeds can be purchased from MV Seed Co.
Due to their much greater size, winter varieties naturally require more garden space.
Prepare soil as for spring and summer varieties, but plant seed three-quarters of an inch deep with 6 inches between the seeds.
During the growing season, cultivate carefully so as to avoid disturbing the roots. A winter crop will also benefit from a side dressing of nitrogen midway through the season.
Round Black Spanish Seeds
Chinese Rose, China White, and Round Black Spanish are reliable winter performers. Black Spanish seeds can be purchased online from Mountain Valley.
Harvest and Storage
It’s important to harvest radishes before the roots turn woody and bitter.
To harvest early roots, simply pull them from the ground when they’re the size of large marbles, and brush off excess soil. Wash well just before use, and store leaves separately from the roots for longer storage in the refrigerator.
For spring and summer varieties, it’s important to harvest them pronto, as leaving them in the ground after maturity will result in rapid deterioration of their taste and texture.
After picking, trim the tops, brush off soil, and store in plastic bags or a covered dish in the fridge. If you do choose to wash them off right away, be sure to pat them dry to prevent rot.
The greens of spring and summer types will only keep in the refrigerator for about 2-3 days. But the roots will keep for 5-7 days.
Winter varieties are a bit different, as they can be left in the ground until the first frost without any flavor deterioration.
They’re also very cold hardy and will keep in moist storage for several months. In the refrigerator, they can be stored for several weeks.
For long-term storage in root cellars, line a box with a thick layer of stray and lay in the radishes, then layer with straw, a bit of soil, then more straw.
Or, after the first frost, you may choose to harvest and then ground trench them outdoors in the same manner. Dig a trench several inches deeper than the roots are wide, add a thick bed of straw, the radishes, more straw, some soil, and a top layer of straw.
Diseases and Pests
Because of their fast maturity rate, diseases from fungi and bacteria are rarely problematic. However, infestation from insects may occur.
The most common issues are root maggots and flea beetles, and there are simple fixes for both.
Practicing a three-year crop rotation, and not planting radishes in areas where cabbages have previously been grown, will help to minimize root maggots.
And as flea beetles attack the leaves, a floating row cover will prevent damage from these pests.
Like marigolds, radishes are a good all-purpose aid in repelling most insects in the garden.
They make a beneficial companion when planted close to beans, beets, chervil, cucumbers, lettuce, mint, parsnips, peas, spinach, squash, and tomatoes.
They’re sometimes used as a trap plant with onions to attract root maggots. Radishes used in this way should be disposed of when the onions are harvested.
And planting half a dozen icicle radishes to grow and blossom around a mound of squash or cucumber will deter most pests common to these veggies.
Avoid planting near potatoes or hyssop.
More Than a Salad Veg
A most hospitable vegetable, in France, many restaurants serve radishes on a plate along with a pat of homemade butter, some sea salt, and a carafe of local wine to crunch on and sip while deciding what to order.
For brunch, rework a traditional Victorian breakfast at home. Serve sliced with potted shrimp or crab, a bowl of watercress, and plenty of fresh bread and butter.
Photo by Lorna Kring.
For lunch, create a delicious sandwich with thin slices of a whole-grain pumpernickel, cream cheese, sliced avocado, and icicle radish matchsticks.
As canapes, serve paper-thin slices on toasted baguette rounds with an olive tapenade.
For a vegetarian entree, roast radishes with some chickpeas and serve in taco shells or on tortillas, with sliced avocado and tzatziki sauce.
Sautee the greens with garlic or add to a stir fry and serve over brown rice with spicy homemade radish kimchi.
Or, try fresh seed pods sauteed with garlic and thyme, and served over a bed of peppery greens – such as arugula, watercress, or your own spicy organic radish sprouts!
Daikon Sprouting Seeds
Daikon is an excellent option for sprouting, and seeds are available from Mountain Valley.
More Recipe Ideas
For even more delicious serving suggestions, try these recipes from some of our favorite bloggers:
Sweet Potato and Mushroom Tacos
These flavorful veggie tacos are topped with a crisp and flavorful radish slaw, made with red onion, tangy lime juice, and fresh herbs. Bonus points if you make them with homegrown mushrooms!
Photo by Food Loves Writing. © Ask the Experts LLC.
Get the recipe now on Food Loves Writing.
Slow Cooker Pork Posole
This delicious alternative to chili is topped with fresh avocado, cilantro, and a sprinkling of radish matchsticks for added crunch. Make it in the slow cooker for a convenient weeknight meal.
Photo by Jenni Ward © The Gingered Whisk. Used with permission.
You’ll find the recipe on The Gingered Whisk.
Vegan Garlic Lemon Spring Pasta
It’s raining, or it’s late, or you’re just so tired and you don’t want to go to the store. We’ve all been there. But what do you cook when the only real ingredients you have on hand are radishes and pasta?
Photo by Jordan Cord © The Fitchen. Used with permission.
This recipe for Vegan Garlic Lemon Spring Pasta from The Fitchen, of course! If you haven’t tried pan-roasted radishes before, you’re really going to love this.
Get the recipe here.
Pistachio Pesto Canapes
Another tasty garden-fresh offering from The Fitchen, you’ll love this simple appetizer, made with fresh, seasonal ingredients.
Photo by Jordan Cord © The Fitchen. Used with permission.
Radish discs make an excellent base for low-carb hors d’oeuvres, and these Pistachio Pesto Canapes are easy to prepare. Perfect for an afternoon tea, garden party, or barbecue in the backyard.
Find this recipe on The Fitchen now.
If you’re not familiar with panzanella, it’s basically a sandwich’s more salad-y cousin, since bread is a key ingredient. Akin to a deconstructed pizza, it usually involves tomatoes and cheese. But you won’t miss the dairy at all in this vegetarian version.
Photo by Food Loves Writing. © Ask the Experts LLC.
With fresh crunch and vibrant color from your favorite eash-to-grow root veggie, this tasty springtime side is a must make.
The recipe is available on Food Loves Writing.
Although the radish doesn’t get the same levels of adulation that some other veggies do, you’d be hard pressed to find another that’s as easy to grow – and entirely edible!
If you haven’t found a favorite yet, go for a variety that gives… variety! Like the Easter Egg Blend.
It offers all the best a radish has to offer – quick growth, a delightful mix of colors, and a spectrum of flavors and piquancy. You’ll find these seeds online, available from MV Seed Co.
Easter Egg Blend Seeds
Remember to fertilize your soil well, plant early, and harvest as soon as they’re mature for the best flavor. And try a few different ways of serving them to fully appreciate their versatility, and to utilize the whole plant.
Do you gardeners have any favorite varieties or growing tips? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Recipe photos used with permission. Radish photos by Lorna Kring. © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photos courtesy of Mountain Valley, Thrive Market, and Burpee. Uncredited photos: . With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.
About Lorna Kring
A writer, artist, and entrepreneur, Lorna is also a long-time gardener who got hooked on organic and natural gardening methods at an early age. These days, her vegetable garden is smaller to make room for decorative landscapes filled with color, fragrance, art, and hidden treasures. Cultivating and designing the ideal garden spot is one of her favorite activities – especially for gathering with family and friends for good times and good food (straight from the garden, of course)!