“ A Eurasian plant (Raphanus sativus) having a fleshy edible root and white to purple flowers clustered in a terminal raceme. Raphanus sativus is an edible root vegetable of the Brassicaceae family that is grown and consumed throughout the world. „
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The radish is a very easy, quick growing crop. It is cheap, needs little maintenance and can add much needed spiciness to your salads!
Radishes have an acquired taste, they are easy to grow but only grow them if people in your family will actually eat them.
You can get Radish seed for between £1-£2 for about 500+ seeds. You may pay more if you go for a brand name variety - although reliable you will pay more for the fancy picture packaging. Results from seed bought online won't be much different.
There are loads of different radish varieties including the regular red round ones you would find in a supermarket, elongated ones which are easier for cutting and then you have winter varieties.
Summer radishes can be sown from early spring all the way through to September, winter varieties can be sown in late summer/autumn and harvested throughout autumn/winter and look more unusual than the radishes you may be used to.
Soil should be quite loose and giving it a good rake first will help to break it up. If you have stones or rocks in the soil it can have adverse effects on the growth of any root vegetable.
A patch about 2 feet square is ideal for growing radishes and if timed right you can have a supply of them available for 6-8 months of the year.
If space is an issue, they can be grown in pots of compost. Yields will be less this way though.
They like to be kept moist at all times so if grown during the summer, an area with some shade will benefit them as they won't dry out so quickly.
They should be sown where they are to grow - you can sow thinly or be precise with your sowing. If you so thinly then you will probably have to pick out seedlings as they emerge as they don't really grow well next to each other. If you are precise then sow approximately 2-3cm apart and that way you won't waste any seed and a very pretty pattern will come of your sowing!
Winter varieties need a lot more spacing as they can grow significantly larger. They need 10-20cm between each seed.
Sow the summer varieties from early spring to autumn, winter varieties late summer to winter.
As mentioned, they like it damp so ensure the soil doesn't dry out over periods without rain.
Seedlings will emerge after only a couple of days and will grow very quickly. You will know they are your radishes as the stem is the red colour of the radish.
Caterpillars like radish leaves so if you have them in your garden then ensure they are protected from them in some way. If you have read my review of Cabbage this year then you will see that my crop became infested with them! Some of the caterpillars even ventured from one raised bed to the other that contained my radishes (I even watched the little scoundrels doing this) and they ate the leaves on my radishes. This didn't stop me harvesting them as they were fine, but it will affect the growth if the leaves are eaten before they get a chance to develop.
If you get rabbits in your garden, they also like little radish seedlings (as I also witnessed!) a simple piece of wire mesh placed over the top will be enough to discourage the rabbits. That or if you grow onions around them it will deter them. Chicken manure pellets are also another excellent natural way of stopping rabbits accessing a certain area of your garden.
At their peak, you will be harvesting radishes only 3 weeks after sowing them making them a very quick crop! Keeping this in mind, you can easily sow one row every week with a total of 4 rows - this way you can keep sowing new seeds as you empty a row giving you a continuous crop for most of the year!
Flavour is best when they have just been picked, but if they are left in the ground too long they will lose their flavour completely and become woody.
Why grow radishes?
If you don't have a garden or soil in which to grow them, you can literally sow 3 or 4 seeds in a pot of compost on a windowsill and harvest them in 3-4 weeks.
They are so easy to grow, they don't need feeding and will need very little maintenance - if you don't have rabbits you can pretty much just leave them to it and come back to harvest them in 3-4 weeks.
They are an excellent space filler, if you have half a square foot of bare soil in your garden - plant some radish seeds in it and add spice to your salads!
I have tried Cherry Belle and French Breakfast varieties and this winter am planning on trying "China Rose" to use up some soil left bare by my autumn harvests.
Radishes must be one of the quickest growing salad vegetables to cultivate, taking less than six weeks from planting to harvesting, and as such, must warrant a position in any garden. Homegrown radishes bear no resemblance to the things that are sold in supermarkets under that name! Until you have tasted proper, homegrown radishes, you haven’t lived! WHAT ARE THEY? Radishes are the edible swollen roots of the Raphanus Savitus Group of vegetables. They can vary in size from about one inch in diameter (the usual, red ones that we are familiar with, from the supermarket) to around nine inches in diameter for the oriental variety of the plant (Longipinnatus group). Most of us think of radishes as being that lovely deep pinky red colour, but radishes can be found in a variety of colours, including red, pink, purple, white, black, yellow and green. Some varieties are multicoloured. All radishes have white flesh underneath their coloured outer coating. Radishes are usually served as a salad vegetable, either left whole, or sliced, depending on the size of the globes. They can differ in taste from fairly bland nothingness, to “take the roof off your mouth off” hot! Home grown ones tend to be of the latter flavour, probably because they are picked and eaten in a short space of time, rather than stored for sale. I think they tend to lose their bite the longer they are stored. HOW TO GROW THEM Radishes are fundamentally a cool season crop, doing better in early summer, before it gets too hot. They will grow during the summer, but prefer shadier conditions if the sun is too fierce. They grow best in light, fertile, well drained conditions, and should not be “manured” as this tends to create forked roots. They do best in soil that was manured for the previous year’s crop, and should not be grown in the same spot for two years running. Prepare a seed bed by raking the ground unt
il the soil is broken down into fine pieces. Either drill a two inch trench, and sow the seeds about an inch apart, then cover with soil, or simply scatter the seed over the soil, and rake over. I have tried both ways, and the latter is far easier on the back! Water well, and keep the soil moist, but not sodden. As the plants begin to grow, it may be necessary to thin out seedlings to about one or two inches apart, especially with the scattering method of sowing. Never allow the seedlings to grow too close together, or they will become overcrowded. Radishes are very quick growing, and some will be ready for harvesting within six weeks, depending on weather conditions. During a very warm spell, this could be as little as three weeks after planting. It is very important not to let them dry out in hot conditions, as they will become fibrous and will not swell. To harvest, simply grasp the plant at the base of the leaves, and ease gently out of the ground. Do not leave the radishes in the ground once they have reached maturity, or they will “bolt”, with the foliage growing to relatively large sizes, and flowers forming. Once this stage has been reached, the roots will no longer be suitable for consumption. You can, however, leave a few to do this, as it will produce the seed for the following year’s crop. If you make a sowing of radishes every two weeks or so from April onwards, you will have fresh radishes right the way through the summer. STORING AND SERVING Smaller, salad radishes should, ideally be picked, topped and tailed, washed and used straight away. If stored in the fridge for any length of time, they will go spongy and soft. A radish needs to be eaten when crisp and fresh to get the full flavour. I have found that they will store for a few days if they are topped and tailed, then put into icy water, and kept in the fridge. This method is also good for storing if you cu
t the radishes into rosette shapes with a sharp knife. The icy water makes the rosettes “open” so that they create a visually pleasing accompaniment to any salad platter. The larger, oriental radishes can be left in the ground for longer, and can then be stored in boxes of loose sand in a frost-free environment. I am told that they can be stored for up to three months like this, but have never tried this method. These larger varieties can also be cooked, as well as eaten raw, and served like turnips. Again, I have never tried doing this, so cannot comment on the flavour. VARIETIES OF RADISHES Scarlet Globe. This is the variety that most of us will be familiar with. A deep pinky red colour, crisp, with a mild flavour. A globe variety, maturing within 4-6 weeks of planting. Sparkler. Similar in shape and size to the Scarlet Globe, but this one has a white bottom and deep red top. It also has a kick like a donkey! If you like radishes with a bite, then this is the one for you! I love them! (Be sure to have a tissue handy when eating these! They really can make your eyes water!) White Turnip. Despite its name, this is most definitely a radish, not a turnip! Pure white in colour, it is of similar size to the previous two varieties. Nice radishy flavour without being too hot. Pick this one when young and small, as it is prone to bolting quite quickly. Pink Beauty. Again, a similar size and shape, but with a pinker coloured skin than the Scarlet Globe. Rather a bland taste I find. French Breakfast. This is similar in colour to the Sparkler, but grows in an elongated shape rather than a globe. Not quite as “bitey” as Sparkler, but still packs a fair kick. Black Spanish. As the name suggests, this is a black-skinned variety. Not often found in this country. I have looked for seeds of this one to try, but so far I have been unsuccessful. If anyone sees some
seeds could they let me know where please? I’d love to try this one just as something different. This one will also tolerate a mild frost. April Cross. This is one of the larger varieties. It is slow to bolt, and can be left in the ground until the first frosts threaten. Cherokee. This is another variety that will stay happily in the ground without bolting. In fact, unless the weather is really severe, this one will also tolerate a certain amount of frost, giving a winter crop. ME AND RADISHES As stated above, my favourite has to be Sparkler. It is beautiful to look at, easy to grow, and makes your eyes water when you eat it! The perfect radish, in my opinion! I think my favourite way of eating this under-rated vegetable is to sit in front of the television, with a plate of just-picked mixed radishes, a heap of salt, and tuck in! Not a patch on chocolate of course, but hey! I’m being healthy! (well, I would be without the salt!) Radishes add not only variety, but also an aesthetically pleasing addition to any plate of salad. Added to the green of lettuce, cucumber, peppers, cress etc, and the red of tomatoes, it can make an otherwise ordinary looking meal look and taste much better. Also, as they are so easy and quick to grow, why not let the kids have a small patch in the garden to grow some? It teaches them all about germination, growth, and how to care for plants, and at the end of it, you can eat the results! And because they are so quick to grow, the children don’t get frustrated and bored. (Sorry folks, the teacher in me comes out again!) I have recently bought a packet of mixed globe radishes for just 99p in Tesco's. These would be ideal for children to have a go with, because there are 5 different varieties in one packet, and the seeds are pelleted for easy planting. I’m looking forward to planting and picking these, because until they grow, I will have no
idea which variety is which. That all adds to the fun! All in all, I think the humble radish is well worth growing, even in a small garden. Or how about filling an old washing up bowl with compost, and growing some that way? They will even grow quite happily between rows of flowers, because they don’t take up much space, and are sown and cultivated so quickly. The only grumble I have about radishes is that in my old age, they do tend to repeat on me sometimes! Still, that’s a small price to pay.