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How to Grow Radishes

Red radishes grow in gardenThe radish is a cool-weather crop. Grow radishes in spring or fall for the best flavor and texture.

Sow radishes in the garden 2 to 3 weeks before the average date of the last frost in spring. Sow succession crops every 2 weeks in spring and in autumn.

Radishes require 22 to 70 days to come to harvest.

Complete the harvest before the weather grows warm. In mild winter regions, grow radishes in late autumn and early winter.

Description. The radish is a hardy cool-weather annual. Radish roots can be globe-shaped or long and tapered. Roots can be white, red, or black colored. Radishes form a rosette of lobed leaves on stems rising from the root.

Radish Yield. Plant 15 radishes per household member each month.

Thinning radishes
Thinning radishes allows for full root growth.

Planting Radishes

Site. Grow radishes in full sun or partial shade. Plant radishes in loose, well-drained soil. Remove soil lumps, rocks, and roots from radish planting beds. Obstructions can cause roots to grow malformed. Add organic matter to planting beds before sowing radishes. Radishes prefer a soil pH of 5.5 to 6.8.

Radish Planting Time. Radishes are a cool-weather crop. Sow radishes in the garden 2 to 3 weeks before the average date of the last frost in spring. Sow succession crops every 2 weeks in spring and in autumn. Two or more crops can be grown in spring. Radishes require 22 to 70 days to come to harvest. Complete the harvest before the weather grows warm. Warm weather can result in small roots. Long days may also cause radishes to flower; plant radishes during the shorter days of spring and autumn. In mild winter regions, grow radishes in late autumn and early winter. Radishes can withstand frost.

Planting and Spacing Radishes. Sow radish seed ½ inch (12mm) deep and 1 inch (2.5cm) apart; thin successful seedlings from 1 to 4 inches (2.5-10cm) apart in wide rows depending upon the variety. Allow greater room for winter varieties. Space single rows or mounded ridges 10 to 16 inches (25-40cm) apart.

Companion plants. Cucumbers, lettuce, nasturtiums, peas, peppers.

Container Growing Radishes. Radishes can be grown in containers. Sow radishes in containers at least 6 inches (14cm) deep. Plant radishes in round containers in concentric circles. Move containers to cool locations if the weather grows warm.

Radish root
Keep the soil evenly moist to ensure the best root growth.

Caring for Radishes

Water and Feeding Radishes. Keep radish planting beds moist but not wet. Even, regular watering will result in quick growth. Radishes that receive too little water will become woody tasting. Prepare planting beds with aged compost. Side dress radishes with aged compost at midseason.

Radish Care. Radishes will bolt or go to seed if grown during the long days of summer. Cover plants in midsummer so that they get 8 rather than 12 hours of sunlight. Keep radishes evenly watered so that they grow quickly. Slow growth will cause radishes to taste hot.

Radish Pests. Radishes can be attacked by aphids and root maggots. Pinch out infested foliage. Usually, radishes grow so quickly that pests are not a problem.

Radish Diseases. Radishes have no serious disease problems.

Radish harvestHarvesting Radishes

Radish Harvest. Spring radishes require 20 to 30 days to reach harvest. Winter radishes require 50 to 60 days to reach harvest. Radishes are ready for harvest when roots reach 1 inch across. Lift the whole plant when radishes are the right size. Lift a few or push the soil aside gently to decide if they are large enough to harvest. Do not leave radishes in the ground too long or they will become pithy.

Storing and Preserving Radishes. Radishes will keep in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 weeks. You can sprout radish seeds.

Black radishes
Black radishes

Radish Varieties to Grow

Radish Varieties. Radishes can be grown for spring or winter crops. Spring varieties are the common small red varieties. Winter radishes are larger, oblong, and can grow 8 to 9 inches long. Spring crop: ‘Cherry Belle’ (22 days); ‘Burpee White’ (25 days). Winter crop: ‘Black Spanish’ (55 days); ‘White Chinese’ (60 days).

Common name. Radish

Botanical name. Raphanus sativus (spring radish); Raphanus sativus longipinnatus (winter radish)

Origin. Temperate regions of Asia

More tips: Radish Seed Starting Tips.

Grow 80 vegetables: KITCHEN GARDEN GROWERS’ GUIDE

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28 Comments

  1. Radishes prefer to grow in temperatures between 50F and 75F. If you live in a very warm to hot summer region, you will have the best success growing radishes in the spring and fall. So if the average temperature is above 75F where you live, delay planting radishes until the cool time of the year. Flowering can be triggered by high temperatures: the radish senses it’s natural life is coming to an end when temperatures rise so it flowers and sets seed to ensure a next generation. To make a best effort to grow a crop of radishes where temperatures are high, shade the growing bed and keep the soil cool with morning watering.

    • The maggots attacking your radishes are the larvae of very small cabbage maggot flies. To control root maggots prevent the flies from laying eggs near your plants. Here are some ways to do that: (1) time your planting to avoid the flies; instead of planting in spring, wait until midsummer or close to fall–maggot eggs can’t survive in hot soil; (2) screen out the flies so that they don’t reach the soil near your plants to lay eggs–use row covers or a framed covering made of window screen wire; (3) repel flies from laying eggs by dusting the soil surface with hot pepper; (4) plant trap crops a week in advance of your main crop–uproot the trap crop and plunge the roots and plants into soapy water to kill the larvae.

    • You can plant radishes as early as 5 weeks before the last frost. Plant in full sun. Sow seed no greater than a half inch deep. Thin promptly so they do not compete with on another for water and nutrients. Make sure your radishes get a steady supply of water for quick, steady growth. Feed with compost tea to make sure they are getting plenty of nutrients. Harvest before radishes are greater than 1 inch in diameter for best flavor

      • What do you mean by thinning? Several individual plants started to grow, but do you thin them to one? Or two? They are so small and skinny. Thanks in advance..

        • Thinning means to cull; remove every other seedling or two so that the plants left in the row have room to mature to full size. Leaves 3 inches between each radish plant; this will allow the roots to grow round and plump.

    • You can grow radishes in a hanging basket as long as there is enough room for the roots to grow down–about 6 inches (15 cm) deep and allow about 3 to 4 inches (8 to 10 cm) between each seedling so that the roots can fully mature. From seed planting to harvest will be 22 to 25 days.

  2. We have grown radishes for the first time and have very strange results, really long radish red bulbs (7cm – 8cm) that are only the same thickness as the stalks they are mainly under the soil but a little just above. Above the soil they are fairly thin stalks with loads and loads of really lush green leaves. Plenty of room as thinned them early but don’t know what we are doing wrong!

    • Given that you thinned the plants and there was room for bulb/root development, it is likely the soil is too rich in nitrogen; this would account for the lush green growth. Avoid nitrogen when growing root crops; use a bulb food or a low nitrogen fertilizer such as 5-10-10; phosphorus will aid root development. Amend the planting bed with aged compost; soil too compact may cause radish roots to be thin or stunted.

    • Use compost-rich soil or add a commercial organic planting mix. Be sure to turn the soil to at least 10 inches deep and remove all stones and debris. If you have wet autumns or winter plant on mounded beds.

  3. This fall I planted Japanese white radishes. I have had success with these previously. Temps have been fairly steady- 70s, with a few low 80s. When I pulled the radishes from the ground they are covered is soil that has become ingrained. It takes much scrubbing to get to the white radish. Spraying with a hose or a hard rinse under the faucet with a lite scrubbing brush won’t work. Each radish requires at least ten minutes of very hard scrubbing with a vegetable brush. Can you help me figure out what went wrong? I’ve not had this problem before. thanks.

    • The soil may have gone dry. Before planting the next crop, add aged compost or commercial organic planting mix; these will help the soil to be loose and the organic matter in each will also help hold soil moisture around the roots. This should make the roots easy to pull from the soil at harvest time. A few hours ahead of harvest moisten the soil as well.

    • Give each radish about 2 to 3 inches to grow a full root. Use a garden scissor to thin the plants; just cut the ones in between off at the soil level.

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