Growing Radishes Hydroponically

Growing radishes hydroponically requires some investment in equipment and supplies – and attention to maintenance – but it works.
Red radish cress, sprouts on wood

Red radish cress, sprouts on wood

Red radish cress, sprouts on wood

Photo by: Dieter Heinemann, KOALA2 by iterranux.com

Dieter Heinemann, KOALA2 by iterranux.com

By: Nan Chase

Botanical Name: Raphanus sativus

Growing vegetables hydroponically – using various nutrient solutions circulating through water and sometimes a lightweight growing medium instead of soil – has become immensely popular. Hydroponic growing lets gardeners harvest fresh crops year round no matter where they live –even in cold climates or in apartments without any land nearby.

Some gardeners prefer hydroponics over conventional outdoor growing because they can control for many variables in the environment and because hydroponically grown crops in many casescan be raised without many weeds or common insect pests.

A hydroponic radish crop may be a challenge, but many gardeners report good results.

Experienced hydroponic growers say that unless the chemical balance is just right in the nutrient solution – notably, if nitrogen levels are too high – there may be a lot of top growth instead of anice round edible root bulb. Others recommend starting radishes with a focus on “grow”solutions until top leaf development is underway, and then changing to a “root” solution that will nurture development of the edible roots.

There’s tremendous variation within the spectrum of hydroponics. What most systems have incommon is either some sort of automatic circulating pump that distributes nutrient solutions, or, a regimen of fixed containers holding plants plus nutrient solution. All hydroponics need a lot oflight, either natural or artificial, for plant health.

Within the two main categories of hydroponics – the circulating systems (continuous-flow) or the fix container systems (static solution) – there exists tremendous variation in technique and terms. There is even a new branch of hydroponics based on aerosol watering of the roots rather than direct watering.

As for growing mediums, which are porous and often lightweight, they come in an astonishing range:

  • Perlite and pumice, both volcanic byproducts
  • Vermiculite, a puffed superheated mineral
  • Growstones, a glass waste produce
  • Clay pellets
  • Rice husks and the coconut peat known as coir
  • Gravel, sand, and brick shards
  • Wood fiber
  • Rock wool, a spun mineral fiber
  • Sheep wool

Many fist-time hydroponic growers buy a kit that contains all the parts to getting started. After that, they may like to experiment.

When growing a hydroponic radish, in particular, the variety doesn’t matter. The fast-growing spring table radishes do well, as do the long-season daikon, or Asian, radishes. Simply pay attention to any radish’s maturity date and be ready to harvest while the roots are still tender.

Be careful not to transfer mature radishes from very wet conditions to very dry conditions. The result is that the radish may split apart from the sudden change in water pressure. Instead, make sure to store the harvested roots in a refrigerator, wrapped in moist paper towels and placed in aplastic bag.

As in conventional gardening, hydroponic radishes may be planted among greens to keep insects and pests at bay.

Growing radishes hydroponically is economical. Seed germinates at a rate of about 80 percent.

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