If you want almost instantaneous satisfaction, grow radishes! They are fast and easy to grow, and so pretty. Even if you don’t like to eat radishes, it’s worthwhile growing them because they’re so much fun.
Globe and cherry belle radishes are the traditional red spring radishes. Icicle is a long, slim, white radish. Easter egg comes in a colorful mix of purple, rose, pink, scarlet, white, red, and lavender. Summer and winter radishes also come in various shapes and colors.
You can grow radishes anywhere you have moist, fertile soil and sun, even in a big pot (a fun garden project for kids). Radishes like cool weather, so it’s best to start them early in the spring. No need to start them indoors, just sow them in the ground. It’s best not to plant spring radishes in the mid-summer heat, but you can start a fall crop in late summer.
For a continuous crop sow short rows every 10 to 14 days. Sow the seeds thinly ¼ to ½ inch deep. If they come up too close together you can thin them so they’re a good inch apart. If the plants are too crowded, if the weather is too hot, or if there’s not enough sun radish plants will grow tops but no roots.
Harvest radishes when the roots are one inch in diameter. If you wait too long the radishes will be pithy and hot. It’s tempting to let the radishes grow and grow, but oversized radishes are tough and woody.
Radishes are great fill-in crops while you’re waiting for other slower-growing crops to mature. If you plant radish seeds between broccoli plants you can harvest the radishes before the broccoli leaves shade them out. If you mix radish seeds in with your carrots or parsley, which germinate much more slowly, you can pull the radishes before the other crops need the space.
Root maggots are the only radish pests to be concerned about. To help keep the root maggots at bay avoid planting radishes where other root crops grew the previous year.
Nutrition from Radishes
Radishes are low in calories and full of flavor and crunchiness. A ½-cup serving provides a respectable amount of potassium, vitamin C, folate, and fiber. They are best eaten raw; just clean them off with a stiff brush under cool running water.
If you’re a new gardener, growing radishes will give you confidence to try more crops. Check out these sites for more information about how to grow radishes.
Want to learn more about growing radishes?
Lynne Lamstein gardens in Maine and Florida and is currently working on a sustainable landscape. She has a degree in ornamental horticulture from Temple University.