Guide to Growing Radishes

These colorful beauties make a vibrant addition to any garden space and are delicious in homemade salads and soups.

Ravishing Radishes

Ravishing Radishes

Photo by: DK - The Complete Gardener's Guide © 2011 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - The Complete Gardener's Guide , 2011 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Crisp and peppery red-skinned radishes are a familiar summer snack and salad ingredient that are quick and easy to grow. However, there are also unusual Asian radishes to try as well as varieties to harvest in winter.

How to Grow

All types of radishes grow best in a sunny spot with moist, free-draining soil. Avoid growing them in stony or recently manured soil, since this causes the roots to split or fork. Summer radishes are very quick growing, ready to pick in just two to six weeks from sowing. For an early start, sow them indoors in modules in early spring,1/2-inch (1 cm) deep, and plant them out in late spring. Sow outdoors from late spring to late summer in rows 6 inches (15 cm) apart, and thin seedlings to 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart. They can also be grown successfully in containers. Best pulled young, they become tough and tasteless if left too long. Winter radishes are slower growing than summer types, taking eight to 10 weeks; harvest in the fall when the size of turnips. Sow seed in midsummer in rows 12 inches (30 cm) apart, and thin to 6 inches (15 cm) apart. Keep the soil moist to encourage rapid growth and succulent roots. Unless needed, leave mature roots in the ground until midwinter, then lift and store them under cover: somewhere dry, well-ventilated, and frost-free. Check the roots regularly for signs of damage or decay.

Mooli radishes are grown in the same way as winter types. Sow seed directly in drills from mid- to late summer, and harvest in the fall. The roots can be left in the ground until needed. Unlike summer radishes, neither these or winter types are suitable for containers.

Types and Varieties to Try

  • Summer radishes: These radishes are quick-growing and are eaten raw. They are the easiest to grow in small gardens, and there are lots to choose from.  Try ‘Cherry Belle’, ‘French Breakfast 3’, ‘Marabelle’, ‘Scarlet Globe’ and ‘Sparkler’ varieties.
  • Winter radishes: These radishes can be eaten raw, grated in salads, but their tougher flesh is best enjoyed cooked. They have a mild flavor, not peppery.  Try ‘Black Spanish Long’, ‘Black Spanish Round’, ‘China Rose’ and ‘Mantanghong’ varieties.
  • Mooli: This crop is an Asian vegetable, rarely sold in supermarkets. It can be eaten raw if finely chopped and is commonly cooked in stir fries. Try ‘April Cross’, ‘Long White Icicle’ and ‘Minowase Summer Cross’ varieties.

Watch Out for These Pests

Flea beetles are known to eat small holes in radish leaves, which causes seedlings to die off, and weakens growing crops. To protect your crops, cover young plants with garden fabric, or spray with insecticide.

Cabbage root fly maggots are also common pests to radish plants. They burrow into the radishes, stunting their growth and causing decay. Cover plants with garden fabric to avoid damage.

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