How to grow radishes

Sow this crunchy cool-season, fast-maturing, easy-to-grow vegetable in May.

They may have some exotic names such as China Rose, French Breakfast and German Giant but the beauty of radishes is their simplicity: they are easy to grow – they can be grown in your garden or large planter over winter – and they can be eaten within a month of planting, making them the perfect crop to grow as an introduction to gardening for kids.

  • Dig plenty of compost into your chosen growing spot, level out the surface, add a five-centimetre layer of fine seed-raising mix over the top and water gently with a sprayer.
  • Make little holes with a pencil no more than one-centimetre deep every five centimetres, in rows five centimetres apart. Pop a seed in each hole, cover with seed-raising mix and water lightly again. Alternatively, sprinkle the seeds over the surface, cover with one centimetre of seed-raising mix and thin out plants once they have four leaves so the remaining plants have a five-centimetre distance between them.
  • If the soil is kept moist by regular fine-spraying with water, plants should sprout after one week.
  • When radish seedlings have established leaves, carefully remove any weeds and apply a thin layer of mulch such as untreated sawdust or fine straw around – not touching – plants.
  • Keep watering and watching: harvest as soon as the bulbous red top of the radish pokes above the soil. It is best to pick young radishes as they become rather tough and woody if left for longer.
  • If you are a mad about radishes, you can divide your growing plot into three zones: plant zone one with seeds as above then after one month, plant new seeds in zone two and after a further month plant into zone three. Rotating planting means you have a continuous radish supply and the opportunity to raise different varieties to experience the wealth of taste and textures this root crop offers.
First published: May 2011

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