Rewardingly quick to grow and adding a delicious crunch to any spring or summer salad, radishes are a must for every veggie patch.
In the garden: Fast & fresh
The word radish is derived from the Latin word radix which translates to “root” and this popular salad vegetable is an extremely valuable source of vitamins and other nutritional value. It is not known exactly when radish became popular as a food source, but records show that they probably originated in South East Asia as a wild variety.
Radishes (Rhaphanus sativus) are possibly one of the easiest vegetable crops to grow in any region; they’re fast-growing and can be planted almost all year round. After harvesting they will last for long periods in the refrigerator if the tops are left on and they are stored in a plastic bag.
Whilst the flesh of the pungent root of a radish is always white, the outer skin can come in many colours including white, pink, red and even black, with a vast range of shapes from spherical to elongated. There are three main varieties, being French, oriental, and European and it’s the flesh that’s generally eaten raw but often cooked in oriental cuisine. There is a vast variety of heirloom radishes available from Diggers as well.
Sow radish seeds directly into the ground or container as they don’t transplant well as young seedlings, but it is usually necessary to thin them out when they get their second leaf, as this prevents overcrowding. Make your rows 15cm apart and plant them about 6mm deep leaving 5cm between each plant. For an ongoing harvest, plant a crop every four to five weeks. Radish is a good companion to plant near carrots, beans, lettuce, and parsnip. To have a constant supply of seeds, leave one radish to flower and when the pods are completely dry, pick them and store them in a dry place until planting time.
Generally, harvesting can take place from as little as three to four weeks after sowing, depending on the variety of radish, but the long-rooted varieties can take up to eight to ten weeks before they’re ready for picking. Don’t leave them too long in the ground as they can become tough. Radishes are rarely affected by any disease but keep an eye out for the white cabbage moth.
There are dozens of varieties of radish to select from, but some popular types include White Icicle, Scarlett Globe and the heirloom variety French Breakfast. There are also larger radishes that are popular with gardeners such as the oriental daikon radish and the black-skinned cooking radish Black Spanish.
This story first appeared in the Spring 2018 issue of SALIFE Gardens and Outdoor Living magazine.