A Novice Gardener’s Notes on Growing Radishes

| 9/10/2010 8:50:12 AM

A photo of Allan DouglasFor anyone thinking about getting started as a gardener, or anyone limited to container gardening and wanting to grow something other than flowers, and wondering what plants would be good for a beginner to try, radishes are worth considering.

Good Reasons to Grow Radishes

  • Radishes are excellent in salads, as garnishes, in relish or just for casual nibbling.
  • Radishes are hardy plants that will grow reliably in a variety of soil, requiring little or no fussing with chemical additives or supplements.
  • Radishes have a shallow root system, so deeply tilled soil is not necessary. Radishes will grow well in a planter box making them ideal for apartment dwellers who don‘t have access to a patch of dirt of their own.
  • Radishes are not favored meals by most insects, rabbits or deer, making the use of pesticides unnecessary.
  • Radishes have a very short maturation rate, making it possible to enjoy the ‘fruits of one’s labor’ sooner than most vegetables and be able to plant and harvest several times though the growing season. Staggered planting will result in fresh radishes being available all summer long.
  • Radishes do not require a lot of watering. In fact they do better with just moderate amounts of water.
  • Radishes do not require full sun all day. Six hours of sunlight is enough, so they can be planted next to a house or in boxes on a patio and still do well.

Negatives of Growing Radishes

  • Radishes are difficult to preserve for future use.
  • Uses for fresh radishes are limited; radish soup is not likely to be a family favorite, nor are the kids likely to slice them onto their breakfast cereal or pancakes. Bacon, lettuce and radish sandwiches probably won’t win raves from the bridge club either.

General Tips for Growing Radishes

If you have a corner of a garden that is shaded part of the day, making it difficult to grow most vegetables there, stake this spot for radishes which only require six hours of sunshine per day.

Plant radishes in stages, one section every two weeks. This will produce a small number of radishes coming to maturity all through the summer.

3/29/2011 7:56:54 AM

Hi Allan, I remember radishes when I was a kid were really hot. Now all the seed packages I read stress that they are for "mild" varieties. Do you happen to know of varieties that are hot - I like them that way! Happy gardening!

Allan Douglas
10/31/2010 5:17:45 AM

Thanks for stopping by Dave. My primary use for radishes is on green salads, though I'll have to try them in potato salad, that sounds good. I like nibbling on them whole too, but find that I can't do much of that any more or I'll pay for it later. Sure, a patio could serve as a porch. It probably doesn't protect you from rain, but it would still serve the purpose of getting you out to enjoy a beautiful evening.

Nebraska Dave
9/26/2010 10:15:38 PM

@Allan, what an amazing blog entry on the simple radish. I haven’t grown a garden for decades and am just now ending my third year of come back gardening. I did grow radishes way back when and my favorite was the white icicle radishes. They look similar to a carrot but are while and have a bit of zip in their taste. They were easy to grow and quick to mature. I definitely would recommend them for first time gardeners. I do seem to recall Mom using them in potato salad and always as garnish on the top of many different kinds of salads. It’s a good way to add just a little zip too any lettuce salad. Of course the best way is to pull them up out of the garden, give them a rinse, and start nibbling. I don’t get any better than that except maybe a fresh tomato right off the vine. Does a patio count as a porch? I built a poor man’s patio a couple years ago and spend quite a bit of time on the bench admiring the potted flowers and sipping on cups of coffee. When I’m not building, digging, sawing, or constructing, I’m enjoying the view from the patio and planning the next project. Have a great radish day and I’ll be looking for the pointers on porch sitting.

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