Growing radishes in pots

The first pulling of crisp, spicy, sweet roots, slathered in cold unsalted butter, then dipped in flaky sea salt and accompanied by a glass of something white and very dry: I feel I have been dreaming about my first spring crop all winter.

Radishes are keen on life, which is why they get to go first. They take roughly 30 to 40 days to mature outside (fewer in a polytunnel with plenty of watering). Perhaps more importantly, they favour cool, moist conditions. The seeds germinate at between 14C and 30C and are quick about it, so they are one of the best indicators of whether your soil is warming up. Another way of knowing if your soil is nearing 14C is to wiggle your fingers in it. If you can linger there, your soil is warm; if after a minute you wish to hug a cup of tea, it is not.

Photograph: Getty Images

The trick to a good radish – one that is crisp, not bitter and definitely not woody or hollow – is quick growth. For this, you need fertility and moisture. Competition from other radish seedlings will rob the soil of both. Therefore, don’t oversow – seeds should be 3-5cm (a couple of inches) apart in rows 10-15cm apart, or broadcast thinly over a patch. Not too deep, either – they need only a centimetre of soil above them and do best sown into a fine tilth. Sow a pinch at a time, in succession – ie, as one lot emerges, sow the next batch. No one can eat 30 radishes ripening all at once, which is what they are wont to do.

If your soil is not yet fertile enough for the nutrients to be readily available, you could spread leaf mould mixed with well-sieved garden compost over the surface and sow into that. Alternatively, take organic manure, dried farmyard manure or chicken pellets with added seaweed and gently tickle this into the soil before sowing. Alternatively, sow after a leguminous green manure, such as clover or alfalfa.

‘Pink Beauty’ radishes. Photograph: Alamy

Italian and French breakfast radishes) are among my favourites – cylindrical with red tops and white tips. For round shapes, ‘Cherry Belle’ is a brilliant red and ‘Pink Beauty’ is as the name suggests. ‘Rudi’ has a fine flavour and is slow to turn pithy. Finally, if you find yourself with odds and sods of leftover packages, mix them together for a colour harvest.

In spring, radishes need full sun, but by summer they will grow well in semi-shade, where the soil will remain cool. In hot soils, they will bolt, becoming tough and so spicy as to be unpleasant. When the first and second sprinklings of radish seedlings are up and doing well, you can start to think about sowing beetroot, spring onions, broad beans, cabbages, cauliflowers, parsley, peas, spinach, lettuces and rocket.

Contents

Radishes – A Fast Growing Crop

Radish Types

Many people are familiar with the classic garden radish, used as crudites or a salad vegetable. They are probably less familiar with edible podradishes – grown for their spicy pods rather than roots. In addition, radish varieties include winter radishes and the giant Sakurajima Mammoth radish, a very old radish from Japan. Maturity dates vary considerably.

Variety and Maturity

The variety of radish has the biggest effect on how long it takes to grow the vegetables. Here are a few examples (although there are many more varieties):

  • Cherry Belle – 22 days
  • Easter Egg – 25 days
  • Icicle – 25 days
  • Rat-Tailed – 45 to 50 days
  • China Rose – 52 days
  • Daikon – 60 days
  • Sakurajima Mammoth – 80 days

Germination to Sprouts

Radishes may germinate in as little as four days. If you’re growing them to eat as sprouts for salads, sandwiches and stir fries, they’ll be ready in less than a week in most cases. This is unquestionably the shortest time frame in which you can grow radishes.

Garden Radishes

The typical garden or spring radish is round and red, pink, purple or white, although some are more carrot-shaped. These are the radishes sliced into salads or eaten whole, perhaps with a bit of salt. It can take as little as 21 days for a variety like Cherry Belle or as long as 60 days for a daikon radish to mature.

Winter Radishes

Winter radishes were commonly grown back in the days when people didn’t have refrigerators. These radishes were meant to be planted in fall and left in the ground over the winter. Maturity dates are typically 60 days or more. Black Round Spanish and Chinese White Winter are two examples.

Podding Radishes

Some radishes are grown for their pods rather than their roots. Edible-podded radishes are sometimes called “rat-tail” radishes because the pods are similar in shape to a rat’s tail. These can actually grow all summer since you don’t harvest the roots. You can start harvesting at about 50 days.

Really Big Radishes

One variety of Japanese daikon radish, the Sakurajima Mammoth radish, has a much longer growth period than others. Typically planted in August and harvested as late as February, this radish can grow to a weight of 100 pounds. The round white root is relatively sweet for a radish and is usually served cooked.

Growing Radishes in Containers and Pots is easy and quick, and you can enjoy best-tasting crispy homegrown radishes without having a garden.

Radishes belong to the Brassicaceae family just like cauliflower, broccoli, mustard, cabbage, and turnip. Because it is easy to grow and harvest them quickly, they are a popular cool weather crop among gardeners.

Growing radishes in containers is not difficult as well in a limited space. You can enjoy fresh and crispy radishes and tasty green tops right in your apartment balcony, patio, porch, rooftop or even indoors on your window sill.

Also Read: Growing Beets in Pots

If you’ve grown other root vegetables previously, this is not much different. After reading this post, you’ll learn how to grow radishes in pots easily!

Botanical Name: Raphanus sativus

USDA Zones: All, Planting time may differ.

How to Grow Radishes in Pots

The most common way of propagating radishes is from seeds. As they are quite common, you’ll be able to get seeds of all the radish varieties in a garden shop or online.

  • Instead of sowing radish seeds in seed trays, plant them directly in the desired pots.
  • Sow the seeds 1/4 or 1/2 inch deep and 1 inch apart into the potting medium and gently cover them back with the mix.
  • Between 3 to 10 days, the seeds will germinate, and tiny plants will emerge.
  • Thin out the seedlings, so they are only two inches apart. No need to throw away the thinned greens, they make a delicious and nutritious addition to salads and other microgreens.
  • If you’re growing large radish varieties like daikon, space the seedlings 3-4 inches apart.

NOTE: For the harvest to last longer, do succession planting and resow the seeds in every 2 weeks, if you’ve space available.

When to Plant Radishes

Start your radish seeds in spring as soon as the soil temperature is above 40 F (5 C) and the weather starts to warm up. Even if the weather is not favorable, you can easily plant the radish seeds indoors in early spring and continue to do so every other week for regular harvest. Keep growing radishes till early summer and stop. Then, again, begin planting from late summer or early fall (autumn) till early winter.

If you’re not living in hot subtropical and tropical climate, growing radishes in pots in summers is also possible. Sow seeds of summer varieties and take advantage of the microclimate you can create by container gardening. Water summer radishes more often and change location to save them from the intense afternoon sunlight.

In hot, frost-free climates, begin planting radishes in containers from late fall or early winter and continue planting successively throughout the winter.

Note: Radishes grown in high temperatures are usually spicier.

Types of Radishes

Radishes come in many shapes, sizes, and color. There are round radishes like pink beauty, cherry belle (the most common one), cherriette, Easter egg, early scarlet globe–Some of the popular varieties that mature within 3-5 weeks.

Then, there are elongated ones like French breakfast that taste so crispy and juicy, perfect for munching. If you crave for unique looking radishes, grow the watermelon radish or select a black radish variety, black radishes have strong flavor than other types of radishes.

Icicle radishes come in a cylindrical shape, more like carrots but white in color and 5-6 inches long, they must not be confused with daikons.

Daikons are large sized white colored radishes, sweet and crispy with a hint of mild peppery flavor like mustard. If picked late, the peppery flavor becomes intense and spicy, and daikons become woody, same is the case with all the radish types.

Tip: Learn about more radish varieties in this article.

Container Size for Growing Radishes & Spacing

Choosing a pot for growing radish depends upon the radish variety you’re growing. Wide and shallow windowboxes and troughs are most suitable for this purpose.

  • Select a pot that is at least 6 inches deep for most regular radish varieties like Cherry Belle, Purple Plum, and Easter Egg. These radish varieties take 3-5 weeks to reach the harvesting period after planting.
  • Most radishes don’t require more than two inches of spacing.
  • However, some large varieties, such as white radishes “Daikon” are long and require a deep 12-14 inches pot and 3 to 4 inches of spacing.
  • The diameter of the pot for both small and large varieties depends on the number of radishes you are planning to have.
  • If your pot is 12 inches wide, you can grow 6-7 plants of usual radish varieties in it. In a similar pot, you can grow 4 radish plants of large varieties.

Also Read: How to Grow Homegrown Carrots in Small Space

Requirements for Growing Radishes in Containers

Location

Grow radishes in a sunny location, 6-8 hours of direct sunlight is essential for optimum growth. It can also grow in part sun (around 4-5 hours), but lack of sunlight results in slow growth. Although, if you’re growing radish in a hot climate or summers, you can easily grow this root vegetable in part sun.

Soil

Radishes prefer rich, well-drained and permeable soil that doesn’t obstruct the root growth. For that, buy a quality potting mix or make your own. The one you make should be loamy than clayey and have no stones. Additionally, you can add a handful or two of compost or well-rotted manure in your potting mix at the time of planting container radishes.

Improve Moisture Retention in Soil in Windy & Hot Location

If your balcony, patio, or rooftop is windy or you’re growing radishes in railing planters, it’s better to improve the moisture-retaining capacity of the potting soil. You can add any of these organic materials like peat moss, compost, aged manure, or coconut coir. Using perlite or vermiculite is also an option.

Also Read: Balcony Railing Planter Ideas

Watering

Water your radish plants regularly. Irregular and infrequent watering technique like keeping the plants dry for some time and then pouring water to create really moist condition can lead to cracking of the roots.

Temperature

Radish is a cool-season crop that grows best in short days. The minimum seed germination temperature is 40 F (5 C), and the maximum is 95 F (35 C). The optimum seed germination temperature falls in the range of 55-85 F (13-30 C). Below or above this, seeds germinate slowly.

Most flavorful and crispiest radishes grow in moderately cool temperatures, which is 50-70 F (10-21 C). You can grow radish in the temperature range of 40 F (5 C) to 90 F (32 C) without much difficulty.

Also Read: Best Root Vegetables for Container Gardeners

How to Care for Radishes

Radish Fertilizer

  • At the time of planting, mix slow-release fertilizer in the potting soil. If you’re an organic gardener, add one third part compost or aged manure in the soil, instead of the granular fertilizer.
  • As too much nitrogen can cause foliage growth and lush radish tops, it’s better to feed radishes with low nitrogen formula like 5-10-10. You can also feed with general purpose fertilizer like 20-20-20–if the above or similar NPK ratio is not available.
  • Once your radishes are two weeks old and not performing well, you can fertilize again with a weak dose of water-soluble fertilizer.
  • Also, if you missed adding anything at planting time, fertilize your radishes regularly in every 10-14 days with a 5-10-10 or 5-10-5 water-soluble fertilizer.

Pests and Diseases

Container grown radishes have no major pests or diseases problem. But aphids and flea beetles might irk you. Wash aphids with a blast of water or use insecticidal soap.

In diseases, downy mildew can affect your plants. To avoid, provide proper air circulation and don’t keep the foliage wet.

Harvesting Radishes

  • Early maturing radish cultivars can be harvested within 20-40 days after planting. Some varieties such as Cherry Belle and French Breakfast are ready for harvest in 23-30 days.
  • Asian radish varieties like daikons take 60-70 days to reach maturity.
  • Be vigilant when it comes to harvesting radishes. Waiting too long can turn radishes woody, cracked, and peppery.
  • Not just the radish roots, you can also harvest radish tops. Harvest the young and green leaves to use in salads and soups or prepare exotic recipes.
  • Let a few of your radish plants to flower and set the seed pods as these pods are also edible

Frequently Asked Questions

How Many Radishes to Plant for Sufficient Yield?

Depends on how much you consume and how many members are there in your family. On average, grow 12-15 radishes per person every month. You’ll need a single 24 inches wide windowbox for that.

Can You Grow Radish Indoors?

Yes, growing radish indoors is fairly easy and this way you can savor year-round homegrown radishes. Get a couple of long rectangular pots and sow the seeds directly and wait for seedlings to emerge. If one of your windows receive 5-6 hours of direct sunlight, you’re all set. All the growing requirements are similar, but you’ll need to be careful about watering.

Fertilizing and Watering Radishes

When watering radishes, it’s important to give them a steady, consistent supply of water throughout their growing season. Unlike other vegetables, radishes don’t need an occasional deep soak. They do much better with several shallow waterings per week.

It is important to remember that radishes have a fairly high water content. They much prefer growing in a consistently damp soil environment, rather than one where the soil dries out and then gets inundated with water again, before drying back out. Cycles like this can cause the radishes to crack. And if the soil stays too soggy for too long, the radishes may even rot before reaching maturity.

Radishes grow so fast that they usually aren’t bothered by pest or diseases problems. Overhead watering is acceptable, as are soaker hoses or drip irrigation systems. The main thing is to keep the soil evenly moist. In our garden, we often just use an old watering can to irrigate our radish patch. Radish plants can certainly handle a light watering 4-5 times per week, just make sure the soil doesn’t become too soggy. A great way to keep the soil moist is by mulching with grass clippings, straw or strips of newspaper. Sawdust is fine as well, as long as you know where it comes from and doesn’t include remnants from pressure treated wood.

In most cases, it’s not a good idea to fertilize radishes. You can work some organic material or fertilizer into the soil a couple of weeks before planting if you are worried about the quality of your soil. We usually work in some composted manure to the soil in our garden anyway, and we don’t purposefully keep it away from where we’re going to plant our radishes. In most cases, commercial fertilizer products can have a negative effect on radishes and can cause them to be quite woody. Additionally, radishes grow so fast that they don’t have time to absorb much fertilizer before they are ready for harvest.

By now, your radishes should be starting to poke out of the soil and may be getting close to be ready for harvest. Click on the following links for more information…

Radish herbaceous plants originate from Southeastern Asia. Their cultivation started about 2700 years BC. Also, there is evidence that ancient Egyptians ate radishes before the building of pyramids. As for America, radishes are among the first cultivated crops introduced to this continent from Europe.

These plants prefer a colder climate and, in really adequate conditions which include enough sun, moisture, and fertile soil, they grow very quickly. Nowadays, we can eat radishes as food as well as use them in medicine, and the fuel industry.

Facts about Radishes

  • Use them as food

Every part of this vegetable is edible. Radishes’ roots have a crunchy texture and mild to hot peppery flavor. You can eat them as a salad, but there are possibilities to pickle, sauté, boil, and fry these valuable veggies. However, you can consume leaves as well, and use seeds of these plants as a spice.

  • They are valuable nutrients

Radishes are a rich source of vitamins, including vitamin C and those from the B group. Also, it contains minerals, including calcium, magnesium, potassium, manganese, and copper, as well as dietary fibers.

  • Radishes as a medicine

These plants are well-known as a supplement in the diet of patients with kidney stones, bad skin, and intestinal parasites.

They can help in relieving stomach ache, facilitating digestion, and regulating blood pressure since it can eliminate the excess body water. Moreover, they contain sulforaphane. It is believed that this compound can prevent cancer development and inhibit cytotoxic effects on its cells.

These plants’ roots can be cylindrical, round, or tapered, and their size depends on the type you decide to cultivate. It can vary from the small spring type with roots large barely 1 inch (2.5 cm) to the significant winter varieties with roots large up to 24 inches (61 cm).

Nowadays, you can pick out different colors of these delicious vegetable’s roots, including many shades of pink, mauve, red, yellow, and even white or black.

There are three different types of radishes:

  • An early type

This type develops properly just during the cold months of early spring. It can mature quickly (in approximately 20 to 30 days).

  • A midseason type

This type is heat resistant, and you can sow it during a period between May and August. You can count that this type of radishes requires about 30 to 40 days for proper maturing.

  • A late type

This type is considered winter radishes. If you live in a warm area, you can sow it throughout the winter. If you are one of those people who live in temperate zones, sow your radishes in late summer or even autumn. You will get a mature crop after 60 to 70 days.

The main characteristics of radishes

Botanical name Raphanus sativus
Crop rotation group Mustard family – Brassicacea (Cruciferae)
Dimensions This plant reaches up to 6 feet (183 cm) in height and 3 feet (91.5 cm) in width
Planting time
  • You should plant summer type in the spring
  • You should plant winter type at the end of the summer
Germination 3 to 4 days after planting
Harvesting 3 to 6 weeks after planting
Best companions Peas, cucumbers, peppers, and lettuce
Depth of sowing seeds 0.25 to 0.5 inches deep

Space

  • Spring varieties need 0.5 to 1 inch between plants
  • Winter varieties need 2 to 4 inches between plants
The pH 5.5 to 6.8
Frost They can withstand frost successfully
Water They require evenly moist soil

Health Benefits of Radishes

This annual or biennial plant is a rich source of many valuable nutrients.

  • Nutrients – These low-calorie root vegetables contain dietary fibers, antioxidants, electrolytes, vitamins (vitamin A, C, E, K, B-1, B-2, B-6, and folates), minerals (iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, copper, manganese, and zinc).
  • Phyto-nutrients – They also contain detoxifying agent phytochemicals (indoles) and flavonoid antioxidants such as β-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
  • Calories – They provide about 16 calories per 100 g.
  • Sulforaphane – They contain sulforaphane (isothiocyanate antioxidant compound) which has a proven role against some types of cancer, including prostate, breast, ovarian, and colon ones.

Recommended varieties of radishes

Spring Summer Winter
Varieties Days to harvest Varieties Days to harvest Varieties Days to harvest
Snow Belle 30 Icicle 25 Tama Hybrid 70
Champion 28 French Breakfast 23 Chinese White 60
Burpee White 25 Round Black Spanish 55
Easter Egg 25 China Rose 52
Plum Purple 25
Fuego 25
Cherry Queen Hybrid 24
Early Scarlet Globe 23
Cherry Belle 22

Tips for Successful Planting of Radishes

Radishes are a cold-weather crop, and you can sow them in your garden in early spring, approximately two to three weeks before the average date of the last frost in the region where you live.

Since you can harvest radishes every 22 to 70 days, successive sowing every two weeks in both spring and autumn will provide you with the continuous supplies of these veggies.

Average radish yield

You can quickly calculate the number of plants that your family will consume if you are aware that every member of the household needs at least fifteen radishes each month.

An appropriate site

You should always try to plant your radishes in a sunny spot, and avoid planting them at the part of the garden with too much shade. Otherwise, they will produce larger leaves instead of roots.

The quality of the soil

Plant them in loose soil without any lumps and rocks which can cause the appearance of malformed roots. Take care that the ground is well-drained and that pH is between 5.5 and 6.8.

Also, it is essential that your soil is rich in organic matter, but not too compacted or overly fertile. To improve drainage, you can add some sand to loosen it.

How many seeds you need

In average, a package of radishes seeds contains between 250 and 500 seeds apiece. If you know that just about 75% of seeds from the packet will germinate, you can calculate the level of harvesting.

Generally speaking, you can produce a row of radishes long about 100 feet (30.5 m) with approximately 0.5 ounces (14 grams) of seed.

Spacing

You should sow seeds approximately 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) deep and 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart. Also, place seedlings in wide rows at a distance of 1 to 4 inches (2.5 – 10 cm), depending on the type of radishes you choose.

You will probably need to give them more space if it is about winter varieties. Try to provide space between single rows of at least 10 to 16 inches (25.5 – 40.5 cm) apart.

Combining radishes with other vegetables

Since radishes need just five days to germinate and show first leaves, many gardeners mix their seeds with the seeds of carrots, peas, parsnip, potatoes, onion, or beets which germinate much more slowly.

That way, young radishes will mark the rows of sown vegetables, and you will avoid a possibility of digging them up accidentally while weeding. After harvesting them, your radishes will leave plenty of space for other plants to spread out as they grow.

A spring planting

Start sowing seeds directly in your garden approximately 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost. There is no need to replant them and to disturb their gentle roots. If you plant a new round of seeds every ten to fifteen days, you will get a continuous harvest throughout late spring and the beginning of summer.

A fall planting

The best thing is that you can plant radishes by early fall, which is later than other root crops. Just take care to sow seeds at least a month before the first fall frost.

Growing radishes in containers

Yes, you can grow this vegetable in the round containers. Simply sow seeds in concentric circles and put them at least 6 inches (15 cm) deep into the ground. Move them to a colder place if the weather becomes warm.

Your radishes will like moist but not too wet soil. You can expect your plants to grow healthy if you water them regularly. If you let the soil becomes too dry, the taste of your radishes will become woody. On the other hand, if excessive watering your plants, their roots will start rotting.

Feeding

If your soil doesn’t contain enough organic matter, some aged compost will be the right choice for your radishes. You may solve many issues with the poor soil if you add a few inches of all-purpose fertilizer or compost into the planting site.

Don’t use fertilizers high in nitrogen or too fresh manure to avoid encouraging lush foliage. On the other hand, it is an excellent solution to add some wood ashes into mulch and keep roots maggot far away from your veggies. Plus, ashes will help your soil retain enough moisture necessary for healthy and lush growth of your radishes.

Thinning

To allow the radishes’ roots to grow round and firm, you need to start thinning your plants as soon as their tops reach 1 to 2 inches (2.5 – 5 cm) in height. It will be excellent thinning them to about 3-inch (7.6 cm) spacing.

Seeds storing

Keep in mind that you can use the same seeds if storing them in a cold and dark place.

If you prefer saving your own seeds for the next season, it is vital to choose to grow just one radish variety in your garden. That is the only way to avoid cross-pollinating of different radishes and losing their primary characteristics.

Harvesting of Radishes

Depending on the type of radishes you decide to plant, you need to count on the different number of days to fully mature. As I have already mentioned, the early type will mature after less than a month. You need to wait more than a month for a midseason type, and two months to harvest a winter type of radishes.

You can be sure that the harvesting time has come after noticing that roots of your radishes reach 1 inch (2.5 cm) across. When they reach the right size, you need to pull them out of the ground. Avoid postponing the harvest of your veggies too much. I am sure that you don’t want to eat tough, pithy, and tasteless radishes.

Possible Problems

Radish pests

Sometimes you may notice root maggots or aphids attacking your radishes. In that case, you need to destroy infested foliage. Fortunately, since this vegetable proliferates, pests are usually not a significant issue. Also, you can easily avoid root maggots with correct crop rotation and by adding wood ashes in the soil.

  • Flea beetle– They can cover leaves with small holes. Affected areas of seedlings will turn brown and die eventually.
  • Slugs and snails– The young radishes’ seedlings are an excellent food for those creatures. If you spot the tell-tale slime trail on the ground around your plants, you need to make some beer traps or barriers to keep them away.

Radish diseases

You don’t need to worry about some severe disease problems of your radishes. Actually, there is no risk of disease outbreaks, especially if you consider the possibility of a three-year rotation of crop. In other words, if you plant radishes at the same place just every third year, you will probably prevent any possible diseases.

It is possible to notice black roots (usually it is about dark spots at the bottom of the radishes’ roots) in your region. The solution to avoid this issue is to grow just round radish varieties for a few years.

  • Brassica downy mildew– This disease causes changes on the leaves of your radishes. They become yellow, and you can notice some white, fuzzy patches on their undersides. At the same time, plants’ roots may turn brown. If this disease occurs in your garden, you should remove infected plants right away and rotate crops regularly.
  • Weeds– Always keep in mind that many weeds can crowd out your radishes very quickly. Therefore, try to keep the part of the garden where you grow these veggies entirely weed-free.

The perfect cool-weather crop for impatient young gardeners! Radish plants are easy to grow and can be harvested in as little as three weeks. These potent root vegetables are packed with minerals, dietary fiber, and vitamins C and B6. They are members of the Brassicaceae family, which makes them cousins to cabbage and broccoli.

Radishes (Raphanus sativus) come in two types, the fast-growing and classic salad varieties like French breakfast and early scarlet globe, and winter types like China rose that get larger over the length of an entire season. Though the classic red radish is what we are most familiar with, many heirloom varieties are available in white, yellow and even purple.

Fun Fact: This pungent superfood was given as wages to the ancient Egyptians who built the pyramids.

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Radish Seeds

Peppery or spicy, radishes are everyone’s favorite fresh salad addition.

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Peppery or spicy, heirloom radish is a favorite salad addition. Planting instructions are included with each ​seed ​packet and shipping is FREE!

Quick Guide: Planting, Growing & Harvesting Radishes

  1. Direct seed this short-season, cool-weather crop in spring or fall
  2. Plant in loose soil in full sun to part shade
  3. Harvest when roots are 1 inch across
  4. Pests and diseases include flea beetles, cabbage worms, root maggots, clubroot and fusarium wilt

Site Preparation

Radish plants grow best in the spring and autumn and will tolerate light winter frosts. They require full to partial sun (most guides recommend at least 6 hours), ample water and rich, fast-draining soil. Loosen soil to a depth of 8 inches or even more and work in at least 10 pounds of good organic compost per 100 square feet. You can also add a little sand to improve drainage and friability.

Radishes like plenty of phosphorous so if you intend to add fertilizer before sowing, use something like bone meal. Too much nitrogen will encourage heavy top growth and discourages root bulbs. Kelp meal is loaded with micronutrients and will supply trace minerals to crops that will be consumed.

How to Plant

Sow seeds directly in the garden, 1/2 inch deep, as soon as you can work the soil. Plant weekly to spread out the harvest over weeks, not days. Space rows 8-18 inches apart, planting eight to ten seeds per foot. Thin to one plant every 2 inches.

Once planted, keep garden areas cool and well mulched with compost or aged animal manure. High temperatures and drought make this root crop tough, strong tasting and prone to insect problems (see Growing the Perfect Radish). Do NOT allow the soil to dry out.

Harvest radishes when they are of usable size and relatively young. Look for bulbs that are an inch in diameter and slightly poking through the soil. Check often, as they can turn from tasty to terrible (pithy and spongy) in a short period of time. Spring varieties mature in 3-5 weeks. Winter types mature in 55-60 days.

For best flavor, harvest in the morning, rinse and eat fresh. If this is not possible, store the unwashed roots — leafy greens removed — inside a plastic bag and keep in the produce drawer of your refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Insect & Disease Problems

Radish plants are related to cabbage and suffer from many of the same problems. Since leaves are not harvested, more insect damage can be tolerated on foliage than other vegetable crops. If holes or tunnels are found in the bulbs, suspect root maggots and treat using proven, organic techniques.

Seed Saving Instructions

Plants will cross-pollinate and must be isolated by 1/2 mile or planted in insect-proof cages covered with screen. Seed stalks can be 3 feet tall. Always discard the early bolting plants, since they are not the best to save for seed. The seed stalk is harvested when the stalk and pods are dry. Seeds can then be separated by hand.

Daikon radishes in the garden and in the kitchen

Dad planted Icicle radishes in his garden when I was growing up, says Anne Moore, the gardener. I thought that these long, white, mild radishes were good to eat, even at my young, snooty age.

Nowadays, you will most likely find them listed as daikon radish. These radishes are also known as winter, Japanese, Chinese, Oriental, and many other names. They are long, white, cylindrical, and mild.

After I grew up, I pretty much forgot about white radishes. Then, a few years ago, I came across a packet of seeds for daikon radish when I was looking for fall and winter vegetables. I planted them somewhat late and harvested a few small radishes before the first frosts.

The ground does not freeze in the midlands of South Carolina, where I garden, so I was able to leave them in the ground until springtime. That’s when I pulled out long, substantial, tender, mild, delicious white radishes.

Growing daikons in cold climates

If it does freeze where you garden, then you should try planting these delicious vegetables in July or August. They take about two months to mature. Check with your local University Extension Service for the best planting time for a fall vegetable crop in your area.

Daikon radishes are very slow to bolt (go to seed) in the hot, long days of summer. They will withstand heavy frosts if planted late in the season, although they do need at least 40 degree F. soil to germinate. You can also extend your growing season in cold areas by using frost covers on the garden beds, or by planting them in cold frames or greenhouses.

Plant the seeds a half to three-quarters of an inch deep into moist, deeply dug garden soil. Deep containers with wide tops will also make a good growing bed for daikon radishes, as they can grow to 18 inches long and 3 inches wide. Full sun is best in winter growing areas. If you are planting in summer, some shade would be of benefit. As soon as the seedlings have a second set of leaves, thin them to about two to four inches apart.

Use as you would any raw radish. I like them in recipes in place of the more bland water chestnuts to add a little zip.

Daikon in salad, a nice combination

This creamy white radish is much milder than the salad variety of radish, and because of this milder flavor, it is easy to integrate into other foods to add more flavor and texture, says Linda Weiss, the chef. It’s a nice addition to a salad or a stir-fry.

This recipe is versatile. After using spinach for the greens, I added mandarin oranges , sliced green onions, and toasted almonds, along with the daikon, but you can use your favorite salad greens, and replace the mandarin oranges with shredded carrots, pears, apples, or any other vegetable or fruit that will complement the daikon.

Since I always have soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and honey in my pantry, it was pretty easy to whip up a dressing. To serve the salad, I layered the greens, oranges, daikon, onions, and almonds on a large platter and poured the dressing over the salad. Just toss it lightly before serving.

If you use spinach for the salad and have a little salad leftover, you might want to consider a quick stir-fry to wilt the spinach, and now you have a whole new dish!

Salad With Daikon

1 cup julienned daikon (see * below)

8 cups baby spinach or your favorite salad greens

4 to 5 green onions including tender green stems, sliced into ½-inch pieces

1 cup mandarin oranges, sliced apple, or sliced pear

1/3 cup sliced toasted almonds

*Slice daikon on an angle and then cut into julienne. Place the cut daikon in a strainer until ready to use. This will allow the moisture to drain.

Place baby greens on a large platter. Add green onions, oranges, daikon, and almonds. Prepare dressing and pour over the salad, toss, and serve. Serves 4 or more.

Dressing:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon orange juice

1/2 teaspoon soy sauce

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated ginger or to taste

Sprinkle of salt

Mix together with wire whisk. Pour over salad.

Editor’s Note: To read more of Anne and Linda’s “how to grow and prepare” series, .

Linda Weiss and Anne Moore met while Linda was the food editor and Anne was the garden editor for South Carolina Homes & Gardens magazine. They now write articles for the ETV GardenSMART television show website, where Anne is the horticulture editor, gardening consultant, and e-newsletter editor. Anne has written for magazines and newspapers. She is a member of and a recipient of a Silver Award for magazine writing from the Garden Writers Association. Linda is a personal chef. She attended Le Cordon Bleu of Paris’ catering program, has appeared as a guest chef on numerous television shows, has been a culinary educator for 10 years, and a food writer for a number of magazines. She is a professional member of The James Beard Foundation and the Southern Foodways Alliance. She has written a cookbook, “Memories From Home, Cooking with Family and Friends.”

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