“I was holding this really exemplary radish in my hand. I was admiring its shape and size and color. I was imagining its zesty, biting taste. And when I listened, I even thought I could hear it singing.” — from The Radish, by James Tate
Here’s the deal with radishes: you either love them or you don’t (we are on the love side). A little bit spicy, definitely crispy and a wonderful addition to any fresh dish, we are lucky that this root vegetable in the Brassicaceae family is so incredibly simple to grow.
Radishes come in many shapes and colors; short, red Cherry Belle, red and white, black, or even multicolored like small Easter eggs. Then there are the longer breakfast types with a sweet, white tip. Daikon radishes are all white with a mildly nippy to hot flavor. They are perfect for pickling.
Radishes are fast growing — they can be eaten as early as 3 weeks after sowing. They are best harvested and eaten as soon as they reach full size because they can become overly pungent if left in the ground too long.
Plant radish seeds in intervals for harvest through the cooler months. Sow seeds 1/2 inch deep and 1 inch apart. Space rows 1-1/2 feet apart. When the tops are up, thin out every other plant to ensure good sized roots. You can eat the thinnings, like any other sprout.
To grow well, radishes need evenly moist soil and some added nutrients. Feed nutrients to plants either by blending compost into the soil before planting, or by applying a liquid fertilizer like FoxFarm about 10 days after planting.
Many cool weather vegetables are available as transplants, but root crops like radishes will need to be planted from seed. Be sure to keep young plants moist. Water maturing plants regularly to keep them growing. Bitterness develops in greens that are not watered enough.
Some creative gardeners have been known to mark the rows of slower growing crops by planting the fast germinating radishes in front or to the sides of them.