Growing Rapid Radishes

Radishes are quick to germinate and grow to maturity, hence the nickname “rapid radishes.”
Two red radishes

Two red radishes

Two red red radishes sitting in the soil; focus is on the left one

Photo by: Maria Zubareva

Maria Zubareva

By: Nan Chase

Botanical Name: Raphanus sativus

If you search seed catalogs looking for the phrase “rapid radishes” you may not find much at all. Take a closer look, reading the descriptions of the dozens of economical, easy-to-grow radish varieties.

The result: lots of radishes grow amazingly fast, and are therefore known informally as rapid radishes. Generally these radishes are sown into the cool soil of springtime earth, anywhere from April 1 through May in most part of North America. Such radishes can also be planted from seed in the late summer, from about mid-August onward, to produce fall and winter crops of the crisp, flavorful root crop.

In addition, some scientists have been experimenting with super-fast germination and growth for radishes. So far the seeds are also super-expensive and not readily available from most sources ofseed stock. And that type of seed is irradiated to inculcate fast growth. Why bother? After all, many radishes will go from seed to table in less than four weeks. Wow!

Let’s make an arbitrary cutoff point of 25 days from planting to picking (the majority of radishes are ready in four to five weeks, that is, 28-35 days. Here are some of the fastest growing radish varieties:

  • Cherry Belle. 24 days to maturity. Here is a classic red round radish, with crisp white flesh inside. The greens on top are short. 
  • Sparkler White Top. 24 days to maturity. Half red, half white, these charming radishes can taste quite sweet.
  • D’Avignon. 21 days to maturity. Long and evenly shaped, this radish reaches peak tenderness at 3-4 inches length.
  • Rover. 21 days to maturity. A small, round, hybrid radish that’s reliable in the field and can take some serious summer heat.
  • French Breakfast. 25 days to maturity. Yummy! A columnar rather than round radish, this one is red on top and white on the bottom. Slice it thin and eat on pieces of fresh buttered French baguette for breakfast. Salt the top. Really.
  • Early Scarlett Globe. 22 days to maturity. Available from many sources, this radish does well in diverse growing conditions and has an attractive pink-white surface.
  • Fire ‘n Ice. 25 days to maturity. Similar to the French Breakfast radish in appearance, this one has an especially sweet taste.
  • Mardi Gras. 21-30 days to maturity. Whoa, here’s a black radish with a short growing time. Try it for parties, paired with thinly sliced cheese.
  • Celesta. 25 days to maturity. Highly adaptable, this radish can take cold, heat, wet, dry. Lots of smaller round radishes.

When planting radishes, always have loose and fertile soil with lots of even moisture, and plant afew seeds every few weeks – rather than all at once – to have a long period with ripening produce.

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