Radishes may not be as stylish as other, more celebrated kitchen garden crops such as tomatoes or kale, but they’re carefree, abundant and savory. Grow them in the corners of your garden, tucked into containers and planted between other veggies. They don’t need a dedicated bed just a little space carved out here and there.
Sow little and often or generously and often. Radishes can be relied on as a regular from seed to plate.
How to Grow
Chuck seeds straight into the soil about 1/4 inch deep and 1 to 2 inches apart. No need to pre-sprout and transplant. They’re vigorous and happy to grow.
Radishes prefer rich, well draining soil and medium to regular water. It’s ideal for soil to remain moist but not water logged. A healthy dose of organic compost will provide easy to access nutrients, hold moisture and perform as the perfect mulch.
Most varieties grow well in mild climates or in shoulder seasons before or after intense summer heat. Right about now is a perfect time to plant and you don’t need much space. So what are you waiting for?
When to Harvest
Radishes mature in just 3 to 4 weeks. Move soil away from the root zone at the base of the plant to get a visual. If radishes are well formed and an inch or so in diameter, they’re ready to harvest. If not, simply push the soil back in place and let them continue to grow. Leave them in the ground too long however, and they can become overly pungent. Check them frequently so you don’t miss your window.
When ready, pull them from the soil as you would a carrot or other root vegetable and reseed as you go.
I have two cookbooks I love right now. One is River Cottage Veg: 200 Inspired Vegetable Recipes and the other is Deborah Madison’s latest book, Vegetable Literacy: Cooking and Gardening with Twelve Families from the Edible Plant Kingdom, with over 300 Deliciously Simple Recipes. So many wonderful ideas and flavor mixes are in each, they always get my mind moving on how I can rethink what I cook but also keep it simple and doable.
Between the plants and the books, it’s like a series of mini celebrations. How can I go wrong? Eat them plain, pickled or roasted — with fish, in a bean salad, slaws, tacos or braised. Of course raw and straight from the garden is a must but my new favorite is roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Simply clean and toss with olive oil. Place in a roasting pan and top with fresh ground pepper and salt. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes and remove from the oven when tender.
Serve with freshly chopped radish greens and other roasted veggies.
I also love them on sandwiches. The one below is with pesto and mozzarella but, like carrots, they could be added to anything. A bagel with cream cheese, mustard dill sauce and olives topped with watermelon radishes for instance. Now that sounds amazing.
Radishes aren’t ranked in the top 10 as a nutritional power house but that doesn’t mean they’re not good for you. They contain vitamin C, iron and other nutrients. They’re high in phytonutrients, fiber and are known in Ayurvedic medicine to help eliminate toxins.
It’s worth giving them a fresh look and a new place in the garden and on the plate.