Plant Profile: Radishes

Radishes are the easiest vegetables to grow! This is the edible I recommend to anyone starting off a school garden or introducing their children to gardening. Not only is it super-easy, but it is very quick to germinate and can be harvested in a month or so (depending on the variety).

To grow radishes, you start from seeds. Pick a sunny spot in the early spring or early fall. (You can also grow them in containers.) Take a stick and draw a 1/4″ deep line in the soil, then gently drop your seeds in. Try to space them out as best you can. Seed tape can help with this, but don’t get too obsessive about it. If the seedlings come up too crowded together, then you thin* them to make space for the strongest ones to continue on and grow to full size. Keep the radishes watered, but not overly saturated, if it does not rain regularly.

You’ll know when to harvest them when their shoulders start to show above the soil surface, but you can harvest them early and eat them if you like or leave them in the soil for an extra week or so. Just don’t wait too long as they start to get tough and woody when left in the ground past peak. It is best to harvest them and store them in your refrigerator where they can last several more weeks for you.

I like my radishes straight from the garden — freshly washed and with a dash of salt. Some people like to slather on butter and layer them on a good bread for a radish sandwich. You can also slice them into salads and any stir-fry dish.

There are milder forms of radishes, if the classic ‘Cherry Belle’ and ‘French Breakfast’ are too “hot” for you. Try some of the white ‘Icicle’ radish or a ‘Watermelon’ radish. Some people say the more consistently you water and the faster the radishes grow–the milder their taste will be. Your mileage may vary…

If your radishes are bring chewed on-suspect slugs. Sprinkle some diatomaceous earth or Sluggo (iron phosphate) around them.

By the way, did you know that you can eat the radishes you thin out. The tiny radish thinnings can be added to a salad raw.

The radish top foliage is also edible. I recommend wilting the radish foliage (greens) and sautéing them in oil or butter and garlic to cut some of the sharpness. You can eat them raw, but I find them too strong on their own and prefer to add just a couple leaves in to a mixed salad of milder lettuce greens.

The seeds are edible too! So if the radishes “bolt” (go to flower and then to seed), let them. Then collect the seeds to use the seed pods raw or in stir-fry. You can also collect the seeds to use for the next growing season. Be sure to label your seeds and keep them in a dry spot, like a baby food jar.

Radishes: You Can Grow That!
The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine and edited by intern Emily Coakley.
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