How to Grow Radishes

Radishes are one of the easiest and quickest of all crops to grow. The rapidity with which they appear through the soil makes them suitable with children to grow, because little patience is required, and, indeed, many gardeners’ ‘first experience of growing vegetables was with this humble plant. However, the wide range of types and varieties that are available make this a vegetable that is of as much interest to the mature gardener as to the embryonic one.

The radish has a long history as far as cultivation is concerned, having been known in Ancient Egypt. Its origins are obscure, but it probably derived from native plants found growing in Mediterranean countries. At first, varieties had long, tapering roots, originally black, later white, and these larger rooted forms are still cultivated in Europe. By the 18 century, however, the more familiar round ones with red skins began to appear.

Today the small, red-skinned radishes are the most frequently grown, and these are mainly used in salads or as a decorative garnish. In China and Japan, where the large varieties are still common, they are eaten both raw and cooked, and the large-rooted types are becoming more widely grown in the West, especially new varieties imported from China. These larger varieties have the advantage that they can be left in the ground for longer and so make a valuable contribution to the selection of winter crops.

One of the advantages of the short life-cycle of the radish is that it can be grow n among slower growing crops, thus making the best use of the available ground. Radishes make good markers it they are sown along with a vegetable that is slow to germinate, such .is parsnips. Because radishes appear quickly they will indicate the position of the row so that the parsnip seeds are not accidentally disturbed by hoeing or weeding.


Ordinary summer radishes do not need either a deep or particularly rich soil. They prefer one that does not dry out or they will quickly run to seed. Slow-growing radishes also tend to be woody and over-hot to the taste. They should lie grown in an open, sunny position.

Sowing can start under cloches in late winter or in early spring in the open soil. Sow in shallow drills about 1cm deep, set about 15cm apart. Water the soil along the row if it is dry at the time of sowing. Sow thinly so that little thinning is required, then thin to about 2.5cm. Do not sow too much at once because’ radishes are rapidly past their best, and it is better to sow short rows every two weeks to obtain a succession of crops than one long one in which main of the roots will be wasted. Do not let them dry out.

Sow the larger winter radishes at about midsummer. Do not sow too early or they may run to seed. These should he sown in drills set 25cm/10in apart. When they are large enough to handle, thin to about 13cm apart.


Summer radishes should be pulled when they are large enough to cat. Discard any that have become large or old because these will be ton woody as well as too hot to eat. Winter radishes can be dug up from autumn onwards.


Summer radishes quickly shrivel once they are out of the ground and should be used as soon as possible after harvesting. Long-rooted w inter varieties can be left in the ground until they are required. In very cold areas or if severe hosts are threat­ened, which would make digging them from the ground impossible, dig the roots and store them under cover in trays of just-moist peat or sand.

Pests and diseases

Although they may not look like it, radishes are related to cabbages and so stiller from the same pests and diseases. Flea beetle is likely to be the worst problem, and should they appear, voting plants should be dusted with derris. Slugs are also partial to radishes and can leave unsightly holes in the roots. If anything worse than this happens, scrap the plants and re-sow elsewhere in the garden.

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About the Author: Greenery always attracts Arthur Kunkle. He has a big garden where he plants many fruits and vegetables. His passion for gardening motivates him to write and share different tips on gardening.

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