Growing Delicate, Delectable Radishes

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I have a love-hate relationship with radishes.

The “hate” part is a bit extreme. Let’s call it a love-not love relationship, with the former stemming from childhood experiences. Radishes were, in my family’s household, only ever sourced from our own garden. My father is good at a lot of things, but growing delicate and delectable radishes is not one of them.

Dad let his veggies get pretty large in the garden. Foot-long zucchinis, beets as big as softballs, cabbages as big as soccer balls—you get the idea. He had a family of eight to feed, after all—let those veggies grow big!

Dad allowed his radishes to grow as large as tennis balls in most cases. The problem with that, though, is the longer a radish stays in the ground, the spicier the radishes get. And boy, were Dad’s radishes hot.

As my radishes begin to grow in the next week or so, I’ll thin the seedlings to the correct spacing and save those clippings to add to salads. They’ll give a light peppery flavor to my lunch. Or, here’s a thought—if you like to juice veggies, add them in for a peppery kick.

Growing Radishes

Seeds for radishes are typically sown as soon as the soil can be worked in early spring. I got to planting my radishes late, just sowing the seeds this third weekend in May.

Rather than spacing them 1 to 2 in. apart, I planted one packet in a long row and the other—an heirloom gem called China Rose, seeds shown above—I scattered on the soil and lightly covered.

Plant your radish seeds in rows or sow individual seeds anywhere you have a bit of open ground to work with.

As far as harvesting, keep in mind that this veg grows exceedingly quickly, with roots ready for harvest in as little as three to four weeks when the roots around about 1 inch long. Another good indicator of harvestability is when the radish’s “shoulders” begin to push above ground.

When to Plant for Fall Harvest

Radishes don’t appreciate the summer heat. Once the spring round of radishes is complete in late spring, hold off on planting more until late summer for a fall harvest. Remember, you can harvest the roots as early as you’d like. Harvesting when small will allow you to sow a few more seeds in the empty spaces to have a continual harvest throughout fall. And if you do forget to harvest as a small size—it’s okay. Let the plant come to flower and harvest them for a different sort of peppery addition to salads.

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