If you have never enjoyed the fresh taste of a well-grown radish, you really ought to give it a try. Radishes are delicious to eat raw, either by themselves or with vegetable dip. But they can also be sliced to increase their versatility. Use them to top a lettuce salad, or make radish salad.
Even those tiny sprouts that you had to pinch off while thinning the row can be useful. Some people enjoy them in salads.
- Full sun in cool weather, partial shade in warm weather.
- Loose, warm (not hot) soil full of organic matter.
- Soil pH between 6.0 and 6.8.
- Lettuce. May make radishes more tender.
- Nasturtium. Said to improve growth and flavor.
Chervil as a companion plant for radishes receives mixed reviews. It appears to have an effect on radish flavor, but the result may be too spicy for some.
- Plant radishes outdoors any time that the soil is warm and dry enough to be thoroughly tilled. In Kansas, this will usually occur between mid-March and mid-April.
- Plant seeds 1/2 inch deep and two or three inches apart.
- Keep the soil moist until the seeds sprout, but be careful not to wash them away. A light mulch helps.
- For a continuous harvest, plant more radishes every other week until the weather becomes very warm.
- For a fall crop, plant more radishes a month or two before the first fall frost, depending on the variety and on the temperatures. In Kansas, try mid-August through mid-September. With winter storage varieties, err on the side of planting a little early.
Radishes are very easy to grow if treated with reasonable consideration. The key to top-notch flavor and texture is to keep them growing fast. Any time that radishes start to slow down, they begin to toughen and become unpleasantly spicy. Attempts to revive them later on will probably just cause them to split.
As long as your soil is fertile, the radishes need only two things to keep them growing quickly and well. The first is proper thinning. Do not let them crowd each other at any stage of growth. The second thing is a steady supply of moisture. The ground should always be damp, but not muddy. It is better to water radishes a little at a time every day than to water them deeply every few days. As the weather warms up, mulch can help regulate the moisture in the soil.
Pests and Diseases
- Flea beetle.
- Root maggot.
Radishes are ready to pull when they are anywhere from the size of a marble to that of a Ping-Pong ball. Grasp the stems near the root and work the plant up and out of the ground.
Radishes are best eaten fresh. If you must keep them for a short time, leave the tops on and store them in a plastic shopping bag in the refrigerator.
Winter storage radishes were made to keep in the root cellar. Twist or cut off their tops and store in damp sand or peat moss.
- Separate radish varieties by half a mile or protect them from cross-pollination in a screened cage.
- Let the stalks and seed pods dry naturally.
- When the pods are completely dry, pick them by hand.
- Rub the pods to open them. If you have trouble, you might try carefully breaking them open with a hammer.
- Screen the seeds or pour them from bucket to bucket in a gentle breeze until all debris is removed.
- Store seeds in a cool, dry, dark place. Radish seeds should last four or five years.