A vegetable garden is not complete without growing the colorful, crisp and tangy radish. They are easy to pop a few seeds here and there to have a bountiful harvest of these delicious vegetables. Radishes are a popular addition to salads and vegetable trays. They mature rather quickly; ranging from 21 days to as much as a few months. Radishes also make a great choice as a “filler” crop because they can literally be grown in as much or as little space as you can spare. You can use them to make areas where other slower growing vegetables are more productive and you can easily harvest them several times before one harvest of carrots or parsnips come out.
Selecting the right variety:
There are literally a ton of choices when it comes to selecting the perfect radish variety to grow in your veggie patch. There are the traditional round red varieties, then there are slightly elongated ones, small cylindrical ones and then there the always interesting daikon radishes. Each radish variety offers different traits which make them even more fun and interesting to grow.
Once you have selected the right varieties for your garden the next step is to prepare the soil. When preparing the soil you want to loosen the soil to the appropriate depth for the variety of radish that you chose. If you are planting the small globe shaped ones then you want to loosen the soil to about 6″ or if you are planting daikon then will need to go much deeper. Once you have loosened the soil, I like to turn in a generous amount of compost then you are ready to sow the seeds. Space seeds ½ inch deep and 1 inch apart; firm the soil and water gently. There are a ton of gardeners that take the time and plant their seeds evenly spaced out and that is great, but I tend to just sprinkle the seeds either in a line or a square depending on the space I have available. Then, as the season moves forward I usually “thin” them out to a couple inches apart. The baby leaves make a great addition to a salad so be sure to use them.
After you have planted your radishes, let them grow for about a week and then plant some more. This is called succession planting. The idea is that you make multiple plantings so that by the time you harvest the first round the second planting is well started. This way you will continue to harvest plenty of fresh radishes from you backyard veggie patch. I usually make weekly spring plantings as soon as I can work the soil (4 to 6 weeks before the last expected frost) until early summer; and then again in late summer. Sow radishes in midsummer for a fall harvest.
After planting, you will need to keep them watered so that they do not get bitter. The top of the radishes will emerge from the soil as they grow which lets you know how they are doing. You will want to keep track of when they will be ready to harvest as you don’t want them to get bitter.
Fresh radishes can be eaten right out of the garden or put into a delicious and healthy salad. The greens can be eaten when young in a salad or sauteed like any other greens. We prefer to use the entire radish so that nothing goes to waste.
Whether you have one square foot or an entire raised bed available, be sure to grow some radishes for a quick and simple crop that will keep you wanting more.
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