Radishes aren’t always given the love they deserve, but these little root vegetables are packed with flavor. They can be shredded and added to salads, soups, and more. Radishes are also incredibly easy to grow, perfect for gardeners who are just finding their confidence outdoors or for gardeners with young children interested in gardening. Radishes are a great first vegetable for children, as the ease of growing them and their brilliant red color make them entertaining and rewarding. If you’re looking to add radishes to your spring or fall garden then we’ll tell you everything you need to know.
French Breakfast is an old heritage variety that’s known for its small, cylindrical radishes that are bright red with white tips. This variety is mild and crisp, excellent for a simple bread and butter breakfast or a more complicated soup. Its small size and speedy growth make this variety especially popular for container gardens.
If you’re looking for a classic radish experience, you can’t go wrong with Cherry Belle. This variety produces round, red radishes with a crisp texture and a mild, sweet flavor. On the other hand, if a classic experience is the last thing on your mind, then why not grow Golden Helios radishes? As the name suggests, they’re a bright gold color, and, although there isn’t a significant difference in flavor, the stunning color makes it a show stopper. The radish greens are equally appealing, with a pretty streak of purple that highlights them in salads or sandwiches.
Black Spanish radishes are a unique treat, but they take some patience to grow. They’re slower to mature than other radish varieties, but their appearance and flavor make them worth the wait. They have black exteriors and white centers. This variety’s flavor has been described as slightly peppery, which makes it an interesting addition to a wide range of dishes.
Radishes can be planted throughout spring and fall, and multiple crops of radishes can be grown in a single growing season. However, you should avoid growing radishes through the middle of summer, as they are sensitive to heat. Radishes can still be grown indoors in containers during summer, though. Hot weather causes radishes to bolt (produce flowers) extremely quickly, which renders the radish itself bitter and unpleasant.
Choose a sunny planting spot, either with full sun or mostly sun with some shade. Radishes will grow in the shade, but they produce smaller radishes and larger leaves. They aren’t overly picky about soil type, but it should be loose and fairly rich. Radishes grown in tightly compacted soil tend to have difficulty growing, resulting in smaller or misshapen radishes. Sand can help loosen dense soil, while compost can improve the soil’s overall quality.
Seeds should be planted half an inch to an inch deep and spaced roughly two inches apart. You can start planting radishes four to six weeks before the last frost in spring or the first frost in fall. Some varieties are better suited for one season than the other, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the variety you’re growing.
Water is important for radishes to grow properly. They need consistent moisture, but can still develop problems if left in standing water. Drip irrigation and a layer of mulch can keep the soil at the right level of moisture, especially if you aren’t able to check your garden daily. However, if you aren’t able to set up drip irrigation for your radishes, then a layer of mulch and a consistent watering schedule will work just fine.
Radishes aren’t often plagued by pests, but weeds can easily crowd radishes and out-compete them for resources, especially while the radishes are young. Regular weeding will keep the weeds at bay, but you can also use mulch as a weed suppressor.
Harvest times can vary between radish varieties, so knowing the kind of radish you’re growing is essential. The quickest maturing varieties tend to be ready after three or four weeks, while slower growing varieties take five to seven weeks. You can typically tell how quickly a variety is maturing by how quickly the leaves are growing. Another method is to dig up a single radish and use its maturity to gauge whether or not you should harvest the rest of your crop. Radishes can be stored trimmed and washed in the refrigerator, but there are plenty of ways to preserve your extra produce.
It’s best not to leave your radishes in the ground for too long past the point of maturity, though. Once they mature, they’ll have a few weeks of extra growth before they become tough and bitter. Some varieties are designed to avoid this process altogether or to at least lengthen the amount of time before they become unpleasant, but in general, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Radishes are easy to grow, and they produce results quickly. If you’re looking to squeeze in an extra vegetable at the end of a growing season or want a vegetable that’s easy enough for anyone to grow, then why not give radishes a try? As a bonus, radish seeds store very well, so don’t worry if you change your mind after getting the seeds! They’ll still be there later, for whenever you want them.
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