How To Grow Great Radishes
Whether a novice or master gardener, you can enjoy perfect radishes all season long.
There's nothing quite like a fresh picked radish, crunchy on the outside yet tender in the middle, sliced and piled high between two pieces of hearty rye bread, lathered in mayonnaise with a little salt and pepper.
The store bought imitations and even those purchased at the farmer's market don't quite cut the mustard. Or in this case, the mayo.
There are many varieties of the crisp tangy vegetable available, from the standard hybrids offered in most garden centers to the unique heirlooms. One such radish looks just like a watermelon and another, the Sakurajima Mammoth can weigh up to 100 pounds when mature.
The first radishes were believed to have first been grown in Southeast Asia, became a food staple for the Egyptians that built the pyramids and were revered by the ancient Greeks. They immigrated to America with the early colonists in the 17th century.
This tangy crunchy misfit of the cabbage family was usually a throw away or companion plant used to mark the rows of other more desirable, slow growing vegetables like carrots. After the radishes were harvested and used in salads, soups or sandwiches, the carrots would be established and the rows much easier to weed.
Radishes, regardless of the type, are as easy to grow as any garden vegetable by following a few simple steps.
- Radishes can be planted as soon as the ground is warm enough to work, usually around the first of May in Wisconsin.
- Light, well drained soil with a PH between 5.8-6.8 is ideal.
- Plant seed at a depth of 1/2 inch, with 12 inches between rows. Press the soil down over the seeds and water lightly.
- When the seedlings are about two inches high, they can be thinned to establish the two inch spacing required.
- Garden plants require an inch of rain or supplemental watering per week. The soil should not be allowed to completely dry out or form a crust at the surface nor should the water be allowed to accumulate or pond.
- Radishes require full sun (six hours or more a day) and relatively cool daytime temperatures, around 65˚F.
If the weather becomes too hot for the early season varieties, the plants will bolt to seed and more often than not, either fail to develop or leave you with a hot tasting, cracked bulb with the consistency of cork.
By staggering plantings throughout the summer, you can be assured of a continuous supply of the tasty roots.
Some varieties such the Cherry Belle mature in as little as 22 days while a winter radish, the Daikon produces a long white tuber with a surprisingly mild flavor. The Daikon takes up to 60 days from planting to table.
One late season variety that has no bulb at all is the Rat Tail Radish.As the name implies, this radish has a long slender seed pod that is harvested at 45-50 days.
It is becoming widely used in salads, soups and stir fry recipes. Its use in making sandwiches however, is questionable.
Horseradish is in fact, a radish.
The radish remains one of the more versatile and easiest to grow garden vegetables.
By following some basic steps and planting successive crops you not only can have your radish, but eat it too.
Don't Let Insects Stand in The Way of a Tasty Radish Sandwich
Insect pests are another impediment to my cherished treat.
Cabbage Root Maggots, eat the roots of the plant leaving wilted leaves and eventually causing the plant to die.
Radishes are sometimes sacrificed to lure the little buggers away from more productive plants (like the cabbage).
Cut worms will attack the young seedlings and severe them at ground level while the leaf beetle will chew up the leaves but will not harm the bulbs if they have developed.
These insects can be controlled by applying a row cover over the plants or by simply rotating the crops every three years. Wood ashes sprinkled around the young plants may help to keep the pests at bay. Or, you might just plant enough to account for some losses.