PLANT NOW- RADISH
4 September 2011
Learn more about the origins of the vegetable Radish and its many varieties.
Radishes are one of the fastest-growing crops in the home vegie garden and will grow for most of the year in most climates. They like a sandy loam soil with a pH of 6.5–7. They belong to the brassica family, too, along with cabbages, broccoli and cauliflower, but unlike them they are known as root plant.
In fact, every part of this vegetable can be eaten, though the root or tuber is more commonly used as a garnish or in salads for its unique red and white colouring and mild peppery flavour. The foliage may be used in salads, too.
Radishes are a good source of vitamins B6 and C, magnesium, copper and calcium and are rich in folic acid and potassium. They are excellent for helping to clear sinuses and for sore throats. Radishes appear to have positive effects for asthma sufferers and are a good long-lasting energy food.
It’s possible to sow, grow and eat radishes in the same month; in fact, picking and tasting one of your radishes after four weeks is actually the best way to judge whether they are ready for salads. Left in the ground too long, some radishes can become too hot or bitter for some people’s taste and using this method once a week will allow you to know exactly when they are ready to harvest. Succession planting every two to three weeks during the growing season will give you a continuous supply of radishes.
When to sow: From September to March in cold areas, September to May in temperate locations and all year round in subtropical and tropical areas. They germinate in 3–5 days.
Spacing: Plant radishes 5cm apart in rows 15cm apart.
Depth of planting: Sow seeds 5mm deep.
Time from planting till harvest: 4–8 weeks.
Tips: Although radishes need sun to develop, in the extreme heat of summer they will benefit from growing in partial shade to avoid wilting and drying out too quickly. They can be attacked by aphids and are also a favourite of the white cabbage butterfly, so keep an eye out for these pests during their growth and treat with an organic pest spray. Wilting leaves is a sign of root maggot feasting on the radish and tiny pinholes in the leaves indicate leaf beetle. In both cases, the best form of control is rotation of the crop each season.
Radishes come in four main shapes — globe (round), oval, rectangular and long — and are mostly red with white flesh although White Box is a completely white globe variety and White Icicle is a long, white radish. Other globe radishes include Scarlet Globe, Red Prince and Gentle Giant. Mars Improved is an oval example while Red Baron, French Breakfast and Inca are rectangular versions. Another type of radish is the daikon, which is Japanese for “large root”. It can be either a globe or a long radish that’s white in colour and usually has a milder flavour than other radishes.
Want your garden to thrive? Companion planting might offer great benefits for your garden. Find out more on Complete Home