Growing Red Radishes

The red radish is a garden classic: early to sprout in spring, fast to mature, delicious and nutritious. The greens are good too.

Photo by: Sue Ding

Sue Ding

By: Nan Chase

Botanical Name: Raphanus sativus 

Red radishes come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and shades. What they all have in common is a fast growth habit and a strong tendency to grow best in the cool soil of early spring and early fall. Taken together, these red radishes are also known as table radishes, and they are famous for their spicy flavor, crisp texture, and white inner flesh.

Other radish types – large white Asian radishes, black radishes, some icicle radishes – have more tolerance for heat and therefore a long-season growing.

Some of the most popular red radishes for the home garden include:

  • Scarlet Globe or Early Scarlet Globe. As the name suggests, this is a very early radish to sow in the ground and does well in sandy soil. Enjoy the deep red skin and uniform round roots.
  • Sparkler. An attractive radish with a red top and sometimes a white tip. This early radish can have a nice sweet flavor if conditions are right.
  • Cherry Belle. Bearing robust round roots, this variety tolerates warmer growing conditions than many other radishes.
  • Rover Hybrid. This reliable radish is another exception to the “no heat” tendency, and can grow into the summer without becoming tough.
  • German Giant. Wow, it’s big. This red radish can grow as big as a baseball, and if it gets enough water through the growing season will remain tender, not pithy.
  • Saxa 2. A super-early variety, this bright red radish can mature in as few as 18 days. With succession planting that means a steady supply much of the year.

To grow red radishes, check the seed packet for the suggested planting date. Prepare a bed of well-worked soil with lots of organic material – not too much clay – and mark the calendar to plant a portion of the seeds every week or two, in order to have a steady supply of radishes overa long period of time.

Sow seeds directly into the soil, from ¼ inch to ½ inch deep and about half an inch apart, depending on the variety. Cover the seeds with soil, tamp gently, and then water lightly with aspray rather than a harsh stream of water.

Tiny sprouts should appear within five days. Once the new radishes have put on their first fewsets of true leaves (not the first sprouting leaves), it’s time to thin them. The height will be about two inches. Pulling out some of the new sprouts will allow the remaining radishes to grow plump without crowding.

Don’t wait too long to harvest red radishes. Once they reach an inch in diameter it is time to start pulling them up. Rinse, cut off the green tops, and eat.

The greens, if not too full of holes from insects, may be steamed or braised for a delicious side dish.

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