One of the easiest vegetables to grow is the quick-growing radish. And because of this, radishes are often the number one recommend vegetable to grow for beginners and children in the vegetable garden. Radishes are also popular to grow because they can be easily planted between garden rows and other slower growing vegetables while they are maturing. So let’s find out more on how to grow radishes for a quick harvest.
But First, the Story of Radish
Radish is an edible root that originates in Asia. The botanical name for radish is Raphanus sativus and it’s part of the Brassicaceae or mustard family. It is an annual cool-weather crop that is grown and consumed all over the world. There are numerous varieties that differ in size, color, flavor, and the time they take to grow and mature.
Radishes are grown for their enlarged taproots which are circular, globe-like shape, long, or tapered. Although the root colors vary from white to pink, red, purple, yellow, green, and black, the flesh is usually white. The leaves are green in color that form a rosette of lobed leaves rising from the root. Smaller types of radishes have fewer leaves while the long root types have long foliage.
They are not only used as a vegetable in dishes or salads on our table, but they also aid in repelling insects in the garden. Radish plants also make beneficial companion plants when grown with beans, beets, cucumbers, lettuce, peas, spinach, onions, and tomatoes.
Popular Radish Varieties to Grow
There are several varieties of radishes but these are the most common and readily available in groceries, farmer’s markets, and home gardens.
French Breakfast Radish is a crisp, crunchy, cylindrical type that has a pungent peppery flavor.
White Icicle Radish is a pure white (inside and outside) type of radish that measures 5 to 8 inches (13-20 cm.) in length.
Sparkler Radish is a round and bright red type of radish with a distinctive white bottom and is all white inside.
Cherry Belle Radish is a round and red radish that is commonly found in the local supermarkets. It has crisp white flesh that is delicious in salads.
White Beauty Radish is a small and round radish with a sweet and juicy flavor. It is white inside and out. It becomes crispier when it grows larger.
Early Scarlet Gold Radish is a very popular heirloom which is a juicy, crispy, and tender variety with a round shape, red skin, and pure white flesh.
Daikon Long Radish are huge radishes that can reach lengths of 18-24 inches (46-61 cm) and 3 inches (7.5 cm) in diameter. It is cylindrical and is an Asian variety.
Watermelon Radish is an heirloom radish that resembles a slice of ripe watermelon. It originated in China and has an off-white skin with red-purple flesh.
You can find more radish seeds here.
How to Grow Radishes
Although radishes are one of the easiest vegetables to grow, their ideal growing conditions will produce a healthier crop of tasty radish.
Radishes grow best in cool weather with temperatures between 50-75°F (10-24°C). There are spring and winter variety radishes. Spring radishes are grown in early spring so they mature quickly in the cool weather. Winter radishes, on the other hand, require a longer growing period. But the result is better flavor, the ability to hold their quality longer in the garden, and they store better.
Radishes are mainly grown for their roots so it’s important to have healthy soil to produce the best quality. They prefer fertile, well-drained, rich organic soil with pH of 5.5 to 6.8. If you are unsure of your soil quality, you can use a pH monitor here.
Before sowing radishes, it’s best to prepare the soil by taking out stones or rocks so the soil is loose enough for the radish roots to grown unhindered. Amend heavy soils with compost and well-rotted manure to improve the soil quality.
Halfway through the growing period, a side dressing of compost to the radish plant will help promote healthy growth. In poorer soils, an all-purpose organic vegetable fertilizer can also be added to the soil prior to planting.
Radish grows best in full sun of 6 hours or more, or partial shade. It’s important not to plant them in too much shade as they concentrate their energy on producing larger leaves, instead of the roots.
Radishes need to be watered regularly, so keep the plants moist, but not wet or soggy. Mulching around the plant helps retain the soil moisture. If radish plants have fluctuating moisture, it can make the radish taste bitter and potentially cause the radish to split during the growing period.
How to Grow Radish from Seeds
Make sure that the soil is prepped and workable. Then sow the seed 1/4 inch (6 mm) deep and 1 inch (2.5cm) apart. Seeds should germinate in 4 to 10 days, then thin the seedlings from 2 to 4 inches (5-10cm) apart depending on the variety, for them to grow well.
It’s easiest to sow radish seed directly in the vegetable garden but they can just as easily be sow in starter pots and later transferred into the garden. Use an organic seed raising mix, sow the radish seed as above and keep the soil moist but not soggy at all times.
When seedlings are around 1.5 inches (4 cm) transplant them into the garden. Transplant the strongest seedlings and discard any that are not thriving.
Succession sow radish seed every 2-3 weeks for a longer harvest period.
How to Grow Radishes in Pots and Containers
Prepare pots or containers that can retain plenty of moisture but have enough room for water drainage. At a minimum, choose a pot 12 inches (30cm) in diameter and depth.
Fill the pots with good-quality potting soil and compost, making sure the soil isn’t compacted but instead remains loose and free-draining.
Sow radish seeds 1/4 inch (6 mm) deep and 1 inch (2.5cm) apart, and cover them with soil. Then water them well.
To keep them from drying out, radishes need plenty of water but they should not be soggy. Mulch the soil with an organic mulch to help retain moisture.
Keep the containers in a sunny spot where they will receive around 6 hours of sunlight a day.
How Long Does It Take to Grow Radishes?
It doesn’t take long to grow radishes as they are easy and fast-growing plants. Depending on the type of radish, normally it takes 4-8 weeks from sowing for radishes to mature, ready for harvest.
When and How to Harvest Radishes
For most varieties, harvest the radishes when roots are approximately 1 inch in diameter at the soil surface. Though some varieties such as Cherry Bell Radish are mature at 3/4 inches (1.9 cm), so check the variety first.
Pull out one radish first before doing the rest to make sure they are big or mature enough to harvest.
For spring varieties of radishes, it’s a good idea to harvest them as soon as they’re ready, to keep their taste and texture.
Winter radish varieties can be left in the ground until the first frost because they retain flavor for much longer than spring varieties.
How to Store Radishes
Wash radishes well before using them, and store leaves separately from the roots for longer storage in the refrigerator. Radish leaves can be eaten and store for about 2-3 days, while the roots can be stored 5-7 days. Make sure to pat them dry after washing to keep a longer shelf life.
You can read more on eating radish leaves in our article Can You Eat Radish Greens?
Pests and Diseases
Because radish is a fast-growing vegetable plant, problems with pests and diseases are rare. However, an infestation may still occur. In many cases using Horticultural Neem Oil or a soapy water spray will help control pests if they become unmanageable.
A good solution is to practice crop rotation every 3 years and provide adequate growing room between radish plants to allow for airflow.
Also by ensuring the soil is healthy with compost and well-rotted manure, radish plants are more likely to thrive. Unhealthy plants are more susceptible to pests and disease.
Radishes are quick-growing vegetable plants and easy to grow. Plant them in the vegetable garden or in pots and containers if space is limited. In no time at all, you’ll be harvesting crisp and tasty radishes you can add to your meals. Now all you have to decide is which variety will you grow?