Radish Step by Step Growing Guide
Grow your best radish harvest yet!
If you find yourself among the many gardeners who are reluctant to sow a patch of radishes in the spring, then the following article was written just for you!
Sadly, many gardeners frown upon this ubiquitous garden vegetables. Too often, people have a poor opinion of the humble radish, mostly rooted in a few bad experiences with spicy roots that lacked any discernable taste apart from the unpleasant pungent bite.
But spring radishes can offer so much more than a malingered salad topping for those who know how to grow them and how to make the best of the beautiful, delectable root.
Read on here to grow your best tasting, most abundant radish harvest yet!
A Gold Mine of Abundance
Radishes are a veritable gold-mine of abundance in the spring garden. Most Spring radishes have a harvest window of about 30 days from sowing to harvest, making them the all time champions as a fast turnaround crop!
Spring radishes can be planted 2" on center, meaning a small 1 square foot of garden can host a spectacular 16 plants! Few other plants can boast such a high yield per square foot at such a speed.
Everything is edible on a radish, from the lush leafy greens to the crisp, crunchy root. The lush greens are often discarded and this saddens me every time I see them in a compost pile - or worst, a garbage can.
If you have no idea what to do with those radish greens, don't fret. You're in the majority here. They can be added to soups and stews just like you would with kale or turnip greens, tossed in a fast stir fry or even turned into a delectable and refined Radish Greens Soup (a French specialty I grew up absolutely loving!).
As for the roots, the recipes abound on what to do with them. Here is one that is known to turn radish frowns upside down! Garlic Roasted Spring Radishes.
Choosing Which Radish Plant to Grow
Radishes (Raphanus sativus) are members of the Brassica family and are generally divided into two subgroups, Spring Radishes and Fall Radishes.
Fall radishes are sown in late Summer to early Fall for a Fall and Winter Harvest. They do not tend to do well when planted in the Spring as the longer days and warming weather makes them bolt. And no one wants to eat a bolting radish! Fall Radishes also develop an unpleasant pungent taste when grown in inappropriate weather and can become woody when the temperature and moisture levels are inadequate. Fall Radishes also take an average of 60 days to come to maturity.
Fall Radishes are well loved in Asian cultures, but relatively unknown in European cuisines.
Spring Radishes, on the other hand, thrive when planted in the cool, wet conditions often associated with the Spring. They will germinate at a lighting speed and the progressively longer days and warmer temperature will not send them to bolt when cared for properly.
Spring Radishes are also milder and more crunchy, with a higher water content than their Fall counterparts. White radishes also tend to be milder than the more colorful ones.
A mild fleshed radish, White Icicle is ideal for those who like their radishes without a bite
So if you found yourself disliking the strong taste and texture of some radishes you have tried in the past, then maybe planting other varieties of radishes is all it will take to change your mind.
Where to Plant Radishes
Radishes are famous for not being finicky on their growing conditions, so finding a spot where to grow them should be easy as long as you meet two particular requirement.
The first is at least six hours of sunlight. Being root vegetables, radishes nee what is commonly thought of as full sun. Too little sun will make for leggy radishes with thin, unappealing roots.
The second is a loose soil free of rocks and large debris. Radishes need loose soil without obstacle to grow their plump, appealing roots. Only a part of it will grow above ground, the rest being buried. If the soil you choose is too hard or rocky, the radishes will not be able to develop properly, resulting in misshapen and thin, small roots.
Work your soil to a depth of four to six inches and remove rocks, branches and other debris. In the case of Fall radishes, work the soil to a depth of six to twelve inches, depending on the size of the variety you chose.
How to Plant Radishes
The first key to growing great radishes is to understand the plant's space requirement. This need comes just after the appropriate amount of sunlight and moisture in the success of your harvest. Spacing your radish plants properly will ensure plump, flavorful and satisfying roots at harvest time.
When planning your planting, two methods are commonly used, the first one is row planting, where seeds are laid in the traditional linear fashion and the second one is a center on center spacing like the one used for the square foot gardening method.
The linear method is planting is the simplest, but does not optimize space as much as the center on center method. If you have plenty of space, then linear sowing is best indicated. Planting a large amount of seeds using the tedious center on center method for a hundred square feet bed is enough to tire even the most passionate gardener!
When planting using the linear method, space your rows about eight to twelve inches apart. Use your finger, a stick or a trowel to create a furrow in the soil about 0.25" deep. Sow the seeds thinly and evenly along your row. When the plants have two "true leaves" (the second leaves to grow after the seedling stage), thin them to two to three inches apart.
If space comes at a premium in your garden, then center on center sowing will optimize your available footage and give you a higher yield. Sow two to three seeds in a 0.25" depression leaving a space of two to three inches between the indentations, then cover the seeds with 0.25" of soil.
When the plants have two "true leaves" (the second leaves to grow after the seedling stage), thin them to two to three inches apart. This should give you a yield of about 16 plants per square foot.
Radishes sprout incredibly fast. Three to six days later, the tiny, heart shaped first leaves will emerge. They grow so rapidly, you can almost see it with your bare eyes!
When to Plant Radishes
The common wisdom in planting radishes is "as soon as the soil can be worked". This means four to six weeks before your last frost date.
In the case of my Zone 6b garden, my last average frost date is April 9th. It means I can plant my first succession of spring radishes on February 23rd. Those are only average dates, but they have worked well for me in the past.
Succession Sowing Radishes
When I sow my first batch of radishes, I limit myself to two rows in a standard 4 inch wide bed.
I sow a fresh succession of spring radish every week to ensure a steady supply. With my warm, wet New England springs, I can sow Spring radishes for about a month and harvest the last of them at the end of June. By then, many will become pungent and bolt prematurely, so it is pointless to sow more.
If you live in a colder climate, you may be able to sow radishes all summer. Alternatively, if you live in a warmer, drier climate, your sowing window for Spring radishes will be reduced.
Spring radishes can also be sown in the Fall. They do well in the colder, wetter days of the end of September, October and even November. A few frosts won't bother them, but the shortening days will stop their growth at some point.
Succession Sowing Radishes
Radishes only need average fertility, so no need to amend your soil with expensive fertilizer for this frugal vegetable.
All you need is to add some organic matter in the form of well rotted compost, worm casting or even shredded Fall leaves to feed your plants through their short life cycle.
Get Ready, Sow!
Ready to grow your best radish harvest yet? We have the very best heirloom radish seeds available for you! Grab a seed pack of French Breakfast Radish or White Icicle Radish and get your growing season underway!
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