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Rad...ish - Slightly Radical
Member Name: Niall85
Advantages: Quick to grow, low maintenance, cheap
Disadvantages: Not for everyone
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.
Summary: Add some spice to your salads!