Having your own backyard veggie garden is not only fun, but it can save you money as well. Nothing is more rewarding than prepping a meal with vegetables that you have nurtured and grown yourself, either from seed or seedlings.
Whether or not this is your first year gardening, or you are a seasoned pro, radishes are the perfect vegetable to include in your garden. Radishes are one of the easiest and fastest-growing vegetables you can grow. They are a cool-season vegetable so you can plant and harvest them in no time (3-5 weeks to be exact).
What is a Radish?
Radishes are edible root vegetables that are often round in shape but can also be more oblong or tapered. Along with kale and broccoli, they are cruciferous vegetables a part of the brassica family. There are many varieties of radishes we will discuss some of my favorites later in this post. They have a crunchy texture paired with a peppery bite and are almost a bit “spicy” when left in the ground too long, but I’m quite the wimp when it comes to spice or overly pepper things. Even though I find the odd radish overly “spicy” I still enjoy incorporating radishes from our garden in our meals.
Easy Radish Varieties to Grow
There are many types of radishes, but I love growing varieties that are unique and beautiful. Nothing is more satisfying than pulling up a beautiful Fresh Breakfast radish or surprised with a stunning white Easter Egg variety. Below is a list of my favourite varieties to grow, as well as some that I am planning to grow:
- Easter Egg – These generally come in a multi-colour mix of white, purple, and red. They are a fast-growing variety, which is perfect to plant early spring to harvest by the end of the month!
- French Breakfast – If I have to be honest, I purchased these seeds to grow primarily for their looks and photography opportunities. It turns out these my favourite tasting variety!
- Crunchy King – These are what you will most likely see in the grocery store. With their bright red skin, and pearly white centers, they are perfect for summer salads, and pickling!
When to Start Growing Radishes
As I mentioned above, radishes are cool-season vegetables, so you can actually start your seeds before most of your warm-weather crops such as cucumbers, and tomatoes. I am in zone 4B here in Eastern Ontario, so I plant mine in early May along with my broccoli, kale, lettuce, and spinach. Unlike, broccoli, kale, lettuce, and spinach, I direct seed into the garden instead of starting seeds inside under a grow light. Due to their fast germination and growth, planting them directly will still give you an early harvest. I was able to harvest my first round of radishes by the end of May, 4 weeks after I seeded.
If you plan on growing radishes in the summer, you can grow them in dappled shade. Since our summers are hot here and I still wanted a supply of fresh radishes, I moved my second radish bed to a partly shaded garden. They still get a decent amount of sun in the mornings but avoid the harsh heat and sun by mid-day.
Overall the ideal time to start growing radishes from seed is in the cooler months, ideally in early spring, or late summer towards the fall. However, if you have ideal growing conditions to attempt a mid-summer harvest, then you should be successful at growing radishes year-round.
How to Grow Radishes
Since we seed directly into the garden, ensuring the seeds are moist for optimal germination is essential. Unfortunately, seeds won’t germinate if the soil becomes too dry. Keep an eye on your garden bed to ensure the soil is moist at all times until you start to see little radish seedlings pop up.
Once your seedlings start to emerge, be sure to thin out the seedlings so they don’t become overcrowded. I like to pull each seedling up gently and transplant them to a new location. You can keep the pulled seedlings and add them to a salad, or put them in your compost to help build nutrient-rich soil. A rule for spacing is approximately 2 inches apart. Each variety requires different spacing so be sure to refer to the back of your seed packet for proper spacing.
To keep your little radish seedlings happy try to ensure they get 1 inch of water each week. Spread out your watering consistently, trying not to water all at once. Uneven watering can lead to cracked and small radishes.
Radishes need little feeding in terms of compost or fertilizer. Too much food will actually make the greens bushier and the actual radish small.
Since radishes grow quickly you can enjoy harvesting them before most of the other crops in your garden. Generally, radishes can be harvested between 4 -6 weeks after seeding.
To harvest simply grab the base of the green and pull straight up. Your little radish should tag along and pop right out. You can check your radishes once 4 weeks have hit by pulling one up to see if they are ready. If radishes are left in the ground too long, they can get “spicy”. My husband loves spice so oddly I harvest twice, once at the optimal time, and the next a little later to get that added kick.
Want to learn what to do with your radishes after harvest? Check out:
1. 5 Ways to Use Radishes
2. Pickled Radishes
4. Rashing and Cucumber Salad