Growing Organic Radishes

Radishes grown organically serve up helpings of high-fiber, high-flavor food. With care the harvest lasts much of the year.
By: Nan Chase

Botanical Name: Raphanus sativus

Growing organic radishes means adhering to organic gardening practices, and using organic seedand fertilizers. Whether a gardener insists on certified organic materials or decides to beconscientious about DIY organic methods, the results will be the same: radishes you can pullfrom the ground, rinse, and eat.

There’s nothing more intensely satisfying in the garden than eating produce you grow yourselfusing the organic way: no synthetic additives, plus soil guaranteed free from toxic chemical contamination, nourished by clean water and naturally occurring fertilizers.

With best organic practices a gardener can be sure that everyone in the family eats radishes and other crops pretty much straight from the soil…once the dirt is knocked off. The fresher the produce – no handling time, no transportation time, no refrigeration or storage – the greater thenutritional content.

And radishes have a lot to offer on that score: a big handful of raw radish contains nearly a third of the daily minimum requirement for vitamin C, and radishes contain a lot of dietary fiber, as well as vitamin B, potassium, even protein. Why not make a meal of radishes? The French do.

Organic growing means harnessing natural cycles of growth and decomposition of plants and animals, rather than factory produced synthetic compounds. Still, organic growing requires gardeners to monitor every facet of the annual cycle: planting, watering, fertilizing, weeding, harvesting, recycling the waste matter.

Here’s an example. To create the robust but workable soil that radishes require, you might be able to include composted yard waste, kitchen scraps, wood ashes, well-aged manure, green crops, greensand, and other amendments into the soil.

Organic seed is another part of the whole organically-grown cycle. Seed companies usually mark their certified organic seed and make it easy for gardeners to get them.

If you want to grow radishes using organic seed, here are some of the many varieties of radish available in certified seed:

  • Pink Beauty, stays tender in warmer weather
  • Rudolf, prefers cool soil of spring or fall
  • Pearl, an amazing round white radish
  • White Icicle, a long and crisp radish
  • French Breakfast, fast-growing and mild
  • Philadelphia White Box, early variety
  • Plum Purple, deep color and a long season
  • Champion, fast to mature, harvest them small
  • Sparkler, gorgeous bi-colored radish
  • Easter Egg, a mix with lots of colors
  • Celesta, slow to bolt in hotter weather
  • Cherry Belle, a classic round table radish

There are also a couple of the longer-season radishes that are available from certified organic seed:

  • China Rose (also known as Rose Colored Chinese or Scarlet China Winter), has migrated from China through Europe to North America. Lovely rose skin, grows five inches long.
  • Misato Rose, a radish growing to maturity in 60 days, with distinctive green-white skin and pastel pink flesh. Good for grating, salads, and stir fry.
  • Black Spanish (available in round or long forms), with black skin and crunchy whiteflesh, keeps very well in cold winter conditions.

As always with radishes, look for fast germination. Make sure water is steady through the season, and begin harvesting as soon as the first mature roots appear.

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