Radishes 101

In the video, Growing Radishes, Tricia introduces us to how easy and fast it is to grow radishes. She shows the different types of radishes, Spring varieties vs Winter varieties, and tips on planting and harvesting. But let's go a little deeper into radish history, cultivation, troubleshooting and cooking recipes.

The radish was first cultivated in China thousands of years ago. The use of radishes quickly spread to Egypt and Greece. In fact, the Greeks prized the radish so much that gold cast replicas were made and offered up to the Gods. Present day radishes are enjoyed all over the world by gardener's as a quick and easy vegetable to grow in fall or spring.

Winter Radishes vs. Spring Radishes

watermelon radish

Winter radishes are larger and take longer to mature (about 6-8 weeks) than Spring radishes. These radishes are typically planted in mid-summer to fall, about 6-8 weeks before the ground freezes. Winter varieties include China Rose, Watermelon and Daikon radish (means "great root" in Japanese).

Spring radishes are smaller and mature quickly, about 3-4 weeks. Plant in the spring as soon as the ground can be worked or in the fall when temperatures start to cool down. To have a continuous supply of radishes, plant short rows every 7-10 days (succession planting). The following is a list of popular Spring radishes:

  • Cherry Belle
  • French Breakfast
  • German Giant
  • Sparkler
  • Pink Beauty
  • White Beauty
  • Easter Egg Mix
  • White Icicle

Cultivation Tips and Troubleshooting

Easter Egg Mix of radishes

Planting Tips

  • Radishes like to grow in temps between 50 - 65°F
  • Enjoys well-drained soil, high in organic matter and free of stones at a pH 5.8 to 6.8
  • Needs constant moisture and does best in full sun
  • Thin Spring radishes to 2" or 4-6" for Winter radishes when they have their first set of true leaves
  • Troubleshooting

  • Root is not bulbing - possible problems can be new seedlings are not thinned out properly or temperatures are too hot (above 80°F) and the plant bolts
  • Radish is really hot and bitter - poor fertility, low moisture causing slow growth, left in ground too long.
  • Cracking - fluctuations in moisture, left in the ground too long
  • Tough or woody - slow growth, left in the ground too long, inadequate moisture
  • Black crusty growth around the top - scab. Inadequate crop rotation (do not plant Cole crops in same place more than once every 3-4 years)
  • Common pests - cabbage root maggots (burrow into the root and bulb), flea beetles (chew small holes in the leaves), aphids
  • A great online resource for information about pests of the garden and home is the UC IPM Online site. Check it out!

    Radishes As Cover Crops?

    Yes, radishes are not just for eating, they have proven as a useful cover crop. Research has found that radishes are useful in "bio-drilling" or loosening of compacted soils, improving soil by increasing drainage and taking up nutrients for release upon decomposition, weed suppression, erosion control and nematocidal qualities.

    Recipes

    Daikon radishes

    Most folks eat radishes fresh in salads or just by themselves. There are endless ways to prepare radishes. Here are a few links to get you started:

    Pickled Daikon and Radishes

    Roasted Radishes and Carrots

    Apple Radish Slaw with Honey Lime Jalapeño Vinaigrette

    2 comments

    • Patrick, our garden consultant did some research on your problem and did not find much out. She advised you to take your effected radishes to your local Cooperative Extension and see if they can diagnose the problem. Sounds like some type of fungal issues in your soil.

      Suzanne at GrowOrganic.com
    • Can you tell me what or why do radishes get this grayish or ash looking outer skin? I harvested mine and even after washing them, many had this discolored look to them. They were not black. Some had bumps on them or a crusted service but mixed in the purple coloring was some grayish ash color. The discoloration was smooth to the touch.

      Patrick Pittman

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