The humble radishPosted By: rocket veg Category: Growing Veg, Seasonal Advice
Radishes really are among the simplest vegetables to grow. The seed has the fastest germination rate, a neat row of shoots appearing 10 days after sowing if conditions are right and the first radishes will be ready to harvest a couple of weeks later. Because of their speedy growth, radishes are ideal for children to grow – not much waiting around and a tasty treat as a reward. When it comes to sowing, radish seed is just about right for little fingers to pick up, so with a bit of care, it is possible for children to place individual seeds in a shallow drill made with a blunt stick – or posh dibber if you have one. Water the soil before sowing, then shuffle some soil over the line of seeds, mark the row with a stick at either end…and wait.
Where to grow radish
When it comes to choosing a suitable spot for growing radish, it isn’t too fussy as long as it will get some sun and the soil is reasonably moisture retentive. A crop of radish doesn’t need much space either, so a row can be squeezed in between other slower-growing plants, such as peas or dwarf beans, or grown in a spot where other plants will go once the radishes are picked: for this reason, radish is sometimes referred to as a ‘catch crop’. Because of its rapid germination rate, radish can be useful for marking where slow to germinate seeds, such as parsnip, have been sown.
As the seedlings grow, thin them out to allow the ‘root’ to swell. Radishes are best picked when young, crisp to the bite and mild flavoured. Left too long, the flesh becomes woody and bitter. For this reason, radish seed should be sown successively – new sowings made a few weeks apart so that you have a steady supply of young radishes at the ready.
Radishes are usually served in salads, simply rinsed, topped and tailed or thinly sliced, their zingy red colour contrasting with the green leaves, but there are increasing numbers of recipes for cooked dishes which include radishes – for their flavour as well as decoration.
If you want something different, leave a row of radish to develop flowers and run to seed as the green seed pods are surprisingly tasty and ‘different’ – perfect for salads and even better in stir fries.
Radish varieties to try…
…the most popular being ‘French Breakfast’, cylindrical shaped, red with a white tip. ‘Sparkler’ for nifty little round pink radishes. If you cannot manage without eating fresh radishes during winter months, sow ‘China Rose’.