To enjoy a tasty harvest throughout the year when you sow radishes, there are some simple but important steps to follow. The hardy root vegetable is crunchy, colorful and peppery, and you can grow it several times in a season. However, stress from heat, improper spacing or drought can cause radishes to grow and flower erratically. Therefore, there are specific guidelines to follow in order to grow them. Generally, radishes are ripe in as little as three weeks from sowing to harvest. So, with the help of the following tips, find out how and when they can reach their peak.
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Before you sow and harvest radishes in the home garden or in the open field
The sowing season for radishes is generally divided into two groups – spring/summer and winter. Spring/summer radishes grow best in cool weather from spring through early summer and fall. They are usually small and can be spherical or elongated, with pungency ranging from mild to fiery-spicy. Winter radishes are sown in mid to late summer because they require a shortening of day length to trigger root growth. Accordingly, they require a much longer time to mature and may overwinter in the ground in mild climates . Winter radishes can be long or round and are usually milder than spring/summer radishes, although some can be sharp. They store well in the refrigerator for up to a month without a lid.
This petite root vegetable adds a vibrant flavor sensation to countless dishes. In addition, radishes are low-maintenance plants that can be planted in the ground, in a greenhouse, or on a patio or balcony. They’re also small enough to thrive even in pots indoors on a windowsill, making them perfect for amateur gardeners without much experience. Radishes are also extremely fast growing. Their roots and edible leaves can be ready to eat in four weeks from seed to fork. The most important first step in growing radishes is when to plant them. If you do this right, you can enjoy a year-round, homegrown crop that’s rich in vitamin C and packed with antioxidants.
When and where to plant or sow radishes
No matter how small the space you have available, it’s always possible to plant a pot or two of radishes as part of your vegetable garden or sow seeds directly onto your plot. However, many gardeners often wonder when to grow radishes and whether it is too cold or too hot to do so. The vegetable germinates quickly at spring temperatures between 7 and 21 degrees. Plant radishes as soon as the soil can be worked, and consider using the crisp plants to mark the lines of slow-germinating summer crops like carrots.
Try to sow little and often, with successive sowings in the spring will provide a continuous harvest without hunger gaps. The best month for sowing depends on whether you sow radishes in the open ground, start the seeds under glass, or even the climate in which you live. An ideal month for direct sowing into the ground is from April, when the soil warms up and the cold winter temperatures have given way to spring warmth. Fall sowing in September is also ideal, as the summer heat is over and radishes are less likely to shoot. To make the most productive use of growing space, especially if you have a small vegetable garden, sow radishes outdoors between slower crops like parsnips.
Sowing radishes outdoors.
Place a cluster of two seeds 3 to 10 inches apart, depending on the variety. Proper thinning is crucial for good development, so thin shortly after seedlings emerge. Keep radishes weed-free to avoid stress from crowding, light or drought. As for optimal growing conditions, the soil should be loose and light, with an adequate amount of organic matter, and free of rocks and clods. As described above, radishes do best in cool temperatures in spring and late summer/fall. Also, keep them evenly moist. Too little water produces a small, spicy and bitter root. Conversely, overwatering promotes excess foliage and small roots. Inconsistent watering can cause radishes to burst.
The best light conditions for this plant range from full sun to partial shade. Fertilization is not necessary if the soil is fertile, as excess nitrogen could lead to large greens and scanty roots. Plants thrive in cool temperatures, but seeds require fairly high temperatures to germinate. If you want to help warm the soil, you can place a black plastic sheet on the growing area 3 days before sowing. Sow the seeds under the plastic wrap and check daily for germination after 4 days. Remove plastic immediately after seedlings emerge. As they grow, you can mound soil around them and keep the seedlings covered with it to prevent greening.
Sowing radishes in a raised bed
Radishes are a very easy and quick vegetable to grow and are great for growing in raised beds and containers. They enjoy the light, well-draining soil and can be sown to fill unused areas. They also have the ability to grow very well in partial shade. In fact, they grow better in mid-summer when protected from full sun. All varieties can be sown in the same way. Simply make a very shallow hole in the soil of your raised bed and sprinkle the seed in. Since the seed is so small, it would be almost impossible to scatter little of it, but the seeds are usually inexpensive. Then sprinkle soil and water the soil lightly. The seedlings should appear in one to two weeks.
In addition, radishes can be sown very densely in raised beds and containers. A 5 cm space between each plant and perhaps 7 cm between rows is a good start. For good radishes, the usual rules for fertilizing, weeding and watering are also sufficient for a raised bed. To harvest, simply pull the foliage close to the soil and gently loosen the radishes. Summer radishes should be harvested when they are young, typically about 2 to 3 inches wide. If left in the ground longer, they will become woody and very peppery. They mature very quickly and the same soil can then be used to grow several varieties. So if you harvest three or four radishes, it is a good idea to sow more seeds in their place. That way, you’ll end up with a continuous crop for several months.
Protect radishes from pests and store them after harvesting.
Flea beetles can eat the green tops, which affects the formation of the root. Therefore, if you live in an area where flea beetles are problematic, you can cover the seeded area with row covers until harvest. To this you can still mulch and add native plants to attract beneficial insects. Radishes are also susceptible to what is known as white rust. These are chalky white blisters, mainly on leaf undersides, and small, yellow-green spots or blisters, sometimes in a circular pattern, on leaf tops. Stems may also be infected with it. In this case, destroy the infected plants and choose resistant varieties.
Store washed radishes separately from their edible tops in a plastic bag or other container in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator. Cut off the tops and thin root tail, wash the radishes, and dry them thoroughly. You can store the green leaves of the radishes separately for up to 3 days. Place them in a separate bag with a dry paper towel. Radishes are great for picking with carrots or fermenting into kimchi.
They can be snacked on whole and dipped in salted butter and lime. Of course, radishes can also be grated into coleslaw to add some flavor. They can even be cooked, too. Fry halved radishes until they are buttery and tender. You can also saute the green tops in olive oil with a little garlic or even make them into pesto.