8 Truths About Growing Radishes

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Different types of radishes

Radishes are among my favorite garden crops, and I am getting ready to make my third spring sowing. All of my plantings have a reasonable chance of success, because I am committed to spoiling the little darlings with indulgent care - the first truth I must tell about growing radishes. Just because radishes grow fast does not mean they are easy or carefree. Here are seven more truths about growing radishes.

Radishes don’t grow as quickly as they say

Radishes can mature really fast, but not always. American seed companies often promote the earliest radishes as maturing in 23 days, which I have never seen happen in my garden. British catalogs give a more reasonable estimate of four to six weeks, which factors in periods of slow growth due to cool, cloudy weather. I always allow at least six weeks for a good crop of spring radishes, and ten weeks for radishes grown in the fall.

Radish seedlings

Radishes need space

The fast growth of radishes comes with conditions, including an uncompromising need for space. Seedlings that grow too close together will not plump up, so you must either sow the seeds at uniform spacing or thin them soon after they sprout. Small salad radishes will mature nicely when thinned to 2 inches (5cm) apart, but allow 4 inches (10cm) between big daikons and other storage radishes. Note that radish seed tapes can be a huge help with spacing, and they are fast and easy to make.

An easy life makes for a successful crop

Radishes have no tolerance for weeds or moisture stress, and they must have soil that never dries out. Early-season mulches invite problems with slugs in my rainy climate, so attentive watering is the only solution when growing radishes. Lettuce has similar needs, so I often grow the two vegetables in adjacent rows.

Radishes and lettuce

Only certain types of radish grow well in spring

All radish varieties grow well in the fall, but only some excel in the spring. Fast-growing salad radishes in red, bicolors, or pastel Easter egg colors are top choices in spring, but the only Asian radishes I have found that grow well from spring sowings are Chinese types such as ‘Dragon’ (the long red radishes in the photo at the top of the page). Beautiful red and green “watermelon” radishes like ‘Misato Rose’ and carrot-shaped daikons are always better in the fall.

Pest and disease problems are always just around the corner

Radishes are not without their problems. Flea beetles make tiny holes in the leaves, slugs and snails chew grooves in perfect roots, and a sudden deluge can cause radishes to split and start rotting. These are but a few of the reasons to promptly harvest radishes that have popped up out of the ground, trim off their tops, and store them in the refrigerator.

Prompt harvesting is essential

Despite claims that some radish varieties will hold in the garden without becoming pithy, the truth is that many bad things can happen to radishes that are left unharvested a day or two too long. It is a paradox that while perfect radishes must be promptly harvested, the trimmed roots will store in the refrigerator for months.

Harvested radishes

Radishes are very versatile in the kitchen

Radishes are delicious eaten raw, but they are also a savory cooked vegetable that deserves wider use in roasting pans and soup pots. Radishes are a great little veggie for fermenting, too. When you use salt fermentation methods to pickle little salad radishes, cut in half, the colors meld to produce a bright pink pickle.

The bottom line is that while growing radishes can be more intensive compared to many other vegetables, attending to details will insure a successful crop.

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Show Comments


"Finally, a good article about the real deal with radishes! I have been blaming my soil for producing horrible radish harvests, but after reading your article I wonder if it could be my watering. I'm also glad you mentioned sowing the watermelon radishes in the fall. I'll try that this year!"
Heather on Friday 5 May 2017
"I use to grow radishes in a 6-8" wide band - now I just do a thin line about 1-2". I don't thin them out I just pick the biggest ones. The others grow. I water every day. "
Mike on Thursday 30 November 2017
"Pithy and packed with really useful information. Gardening writing at its best. Thank you."
Alan on Monday 26 February 2018
"Hello Barbara, thanks again for another great article. Always relevant (even though you live across The Pond). I am so glad to hear that radishes, just like lettuce is not quite as easy as one is led to believe... I'm working on them both. Thanks for the inspiration!"
Veronica on Thursday 12 April 2018
"Yes indeed Alan, I think you need to water every day :) It's a pity I can't :( Still we perservere..that's gardening :) "
Veronica on Thursday 12 April 2018
"I am actually working on radish for my project work.Pls i need some more info on how to grow the veg as am yet to cultivate"
ALIYU MOHAMMED BASHAR on Wednesday 24 April 2019
"when I pick mine they are inedible, they have brown dots running through the root. is that due to watering too. i'll have another go and maybe try them in the greenhouse as well as I never forget to water the greenhouse"
melanie wade on Wednesday 26 June 2019
the skeeter peeter on Friday 15 November 2019
"I was honestly ready to give up on trying to grow radishes until I read this article. "
Raven on Sunday 7 June 2020
"For some reason all my radish plants turn to seeding plants. What causes this?"
mike martineau on Wednesday 29 July 2020
"I planted many radish tops in several pots they showed growths after watering. But suddenly after a week, I found all of them disappeared! What can be the reason??? Is it any insect or animal that had eaten them? Kindly reply back.I found holes,where they were planted."
Sanchari Chowdhury on Sunday 6 September 2020
"I am at week 4 for my Fall crop and they don't look close to ready. This is the first article that gave me insight it could take 8-10 weeks! I won't give up. "
Johnna on Thursday 22 September 2022

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