The ordinary radish isn’t ordinary at all. As one of the first cultivated vegetables in recorded history, radishes are one of the easiest root vegetables to grow. There are many kinds of radishes that gardeners can plant besides the familiar round red ones. Radishes can be long and white, thick and black, oval or even two-toned. New cultivars are introduced almost every year, but there are also surprising heirloom radish varieties. Radish leaves are delicious, too.
How to Grow Radishes
- Plant radishes in early spring, like March or April, and the first plantings will be ready to eat in around 30 days.
- Fall planting can start in August or September. Keep planting at regular intervals about a week apart for a succession of radish harvests.
- Radishes are a good first crop for children to plant, too. Most seeds are large enough for small hands and plants grow and mature quickly.
- Radishes like the cool, moist soil in spring and fall and can be planted in the garden bed or a patio container.
- Loosen the soil and amend with compost or well-aged manure so radish roots can grow easily. Be careful not to compact garden soil because if it’s too dense (or clayey), roots can grow in odd shapes and may develop tough lateral roots.
- Radishes can be planted when soil temperatures reach between 40-45 degrees. Plant seeds ½ inch deep, a few inches apart in rows that are 12-18 inches apart. Seeds can also be planted in window boxes, round containers or half-whiskey barrel planters.
- Keep the soil moist and the seeds will germinate and start to grow in just a few days.
- Some gardeners mix radish seeds with beet, carrot and parsnip seeds to mark the rows or to help protect their companion plants from weeds and pests.
- Once plants sprout, thin to about one or two inches apart in the row. Wash and use the thinnings in early spring salads. After this, radishes will grow quickly without much care.
- Keep the radish bed weeded by pulling weeds or clipping at soil level instead of cultivating. Prevent insect damage to the leaves by covering plants with row cover cloth. For sweeter radishes, be sure to keep soil moist.
- Gently brush soil aside from a radish or two to check for the root size. If large enough, gently pull the radishes up. If the weather turns hot or if radishes are left in the garden too long, they can turn bitter and the roots can split.
- Use fresh radishes raw or they can be roasted in the oven for a deeper flavor. If storing radishes in a plastic bag or container in the fridge, remove the leaves first and use them separately because radish leaves don’t store well.
Plant artichokes with these companions:
- Chervil (makes spicer radishes)
- Lettuce (for more tender radishes)
- Peas (makes the most of gardening space)
- Nasturtiums (improves flavor)
Avoid planting near hyssop plants.
Materials for Success
- Soil thermometer
- High-quality compost and manure
- Packets of different types of radish seeds
- Other seeds, such as beet, carrot and parsnip
To learn more about growing radish or about growing your own edible vegetable garden, contact the pros at Nick’s Garden Center.