Radishes are hardy root vegetables grown for their crisp, colorful and peppery roots. They can be planted multiple times in a season—and be ready to harvest as soon as three weeks! Find out how to grow radishes and how to tell when they’re at their peak.
When to Plant Radishes
For a spring planting, sow seeds 4 to 6 weeks before the last spring frost. For a fall crop, sow seeds 4 to 6 weeks before the first fall frost.
How to Plant Radishes
Add organic matter before sowing but also avoid fresh manure or fertilizers high in nitrogen; overly rich soil will encourage lush foliage at the expense of radish roots.
Radish seeds have a fairly long shelf life. Don’t be afraid to plant radish seeds that are up to 5 years old. All may not germinate, but you’ll have plenty that will.
Direct-sow seeds outdoors about 1/2-inch deep and cover loosely with soil. Space 1 inch apart in rows 12 inches apart. Water seeds thoroughly, down to 6 inches deep.
Sow another round of seeds every 10 days or so while weather is still cool for a continuous harvest of radishes in the late spring and early summer.
– Thinning Radishes
“Thinning” is probably the most important step of growing radishes. Once the seedlings are 2 inches tall or about a week old, it’s important to thin radishes to three-inch spacings. Crowded radishes do not grow well and you’ll end up getting small, shriveled, inedible roots.
– Watering Radishes
Consistent, even moisture is key. Don’t let it dry out or you’ll get pithy, pungent roots but don’t let it get waterlogged or the roots will rot. A drip irrigation system is a great way to achieve this.
Mulch the radishes with compost enriched with wood ashes to help retain moisture in dry condition as well as keep root maggots at bay.
Weed often; weeds will quickly crowd out radishes.
When the radish leaf reaches at least an 8-inch length in early winter, it’s time to harvest. This leaf length is also accompanied by the tops of the daikon roots peeking out from the soil. If you’re unsure about the readiness of these plants, it’s ok to pull one and see how many inches long or wide it is in comparison to the leaves. It is very important to harvest before heavy frost sets in, which causes root rot.
To harvest, simply grab the leaf bundles at the point where it meets the radish, and pull. If you have enough time before the first frost, and you notice the daikon are not as big as you would like, feel free to let the others remain. In your former daikon area, you now have a rich growing medium for other root and nightshade vegetables.
How to Store Radishes
Cut off the tops and the thin root tail, wash the radishes, and dry them thoroughly. Store in produce or zip-top bags in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.
Radish greens can be stored separately for up to 3 days. Put them in a separate produce bag with a dry paper towel.
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