How to grow Radishes

Radish harvest
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Radish at a glance

  • Radishes can be grown in as little as 4 weeks
  • Can be sown between March and August
  • Radish leaves are also edible

In this article we are going to cover growing radishes in the UK. Radishes are grown throughout Britain. It is a staple part of many peoples diets in both the summer and the winter. The edible part of a radish is its swollen tap root which are usually globular in shape.

With a very potent flavour and smell, some people may not be partial to a radish in their salad. Tending to be an either ‘you love it or hate it’ flavour. Radishes are most commonly eaten in salads across the UK and the world.

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Growing radishes from seed

As radishes are fast growing, there is no need to buy them as seedlings. They are best grown from seed which are cheap and plentiful, you will likely find them in your local garden center or online seed bank.

Radish seeds
Some radish seeds

Sow the seeds

Thee are various methods to germinating seeds. If you have a preferred way to do so please feel free to do so. I have found the best way to germinate radish seeds is to sow directly into the soil. Being a cool season crop, the radish plant does well in the UK.

Soil & temperature requirements

The seeds need soil temperatures around 65 and 85 °F / 18 and 29 °C, they prefer light and loamy soil, but can do well in many types of soil. A soil with a PH around 6.5-7 is ideal growing conditions for the radish plant. The light soil allows for maximum expansion of the tap root, this is the edible part of the radish.

Sow the seeds in a line around 1” apart and ½ an inch down. This will allow plenty of room to grow and should reduce the need for trimming during the summer months. If you do more than one row, you will want to leave around 6” between each row.

When to plant radishes in the UK

Sow your seeds in March – August in the ground or in containers. Radishes are best grown little and often, stagger the planting as to how many you will likely eat during the season. They grow quickly going from seed to harvest in just 4 weeks.

Radish seedling

How long do radishes take to grow?

A radish will grow from seed to crop in just 4 weeks given the right conditions. For the best results, plant a row every 2 weeks. This will stop you being overloaded with too many radishes all at once.

How to trim a radish plant?

To thin the leaves on a radish plant, separate the greens from the root and cut the leaf away. Reducing the leaf population will help the plant focus its energy into root growth. The great part of this process is, you can eat the radish leaf too!

Radish leaves are edible

Can I eat radish leaves?

Yes you can eat radish leaves! You can toss them into a salad or sautee them. They are also a very good source of vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, iron, and calcium as well as a high count of antioxidants from its flavonoid content. Radish leaves taste just like its cousins mustard & or turnip greens. Sure to liven up your salads and packs a load of health benefits.

If your shopping for radish seeds with eating some of its leaves in mind, it is important to note that some types of radish plant have hairy leaves, these hairs can prick the tongue when being eaten! This is obviously not a nice experience. Be sure to look for species with hairless leaves.

Growth stages of a radish plant

  1. Seed to Germination

Radishes take up to 5-10 days to germinate

  1. Seedling

Seedlings will appear soon after termination

  1. Young adult planting

At 2–3 weeks your radish is a young adult plant

radish growing
  1. Adult plant

3-4 weeks your plant is fully mature

Companion plants that are good for radishes

Plants that promote the radishes taste, size and growth:

  • Chervil
  • Cucumber
  • Squash

Radish as a companion plant

As a companion plant, radishes are good for:

  • Cucumbers
  • Chervil
  • Lettuce
  • Peas
  • Nasturtiums

Radishes are great at repelling:

  • Aphids
  • Cucumber beetles
  • Tomato horn-worms
  • Squash bugs
  • Ants

Common problems growing radishes

Radish prone diseases

Radishes are relatively easy to grow without issue. However, like any other plant can be prone to disease if is not kept in the right conditions. Most issues you will come across growing radishes will be fungal diseases. Below are some of th most common issues faced with growing radishes in Britain.

  • Damping off
  • Septoria leaf spot
  • Fusarium rot
  • Downy Mildew
  • Black root
  • Alberta blight
  • White rust
  • Club root
  • Scab

Small bulbs, lots of leaf

Whilst the leaf is edible and tasty, if a radish is allowed to ‘bolt’ there will be an abundance of woody bitter leaves and no bulb/tap root – aka the radish! To avoid this, make sure you thin the crop as it grows, keeping a distance between each plant is essential.

Go through your rows of radish and pull out or ‘thin’ any plants that are clogging up the row. This will allow enough space for the bulb to grow fat and tasty. Growing radishes to close together will make them compete for leaf space and they will ‘bolt’.

Radish leaves bolting

If radishes are close to each other or touching, they will sense the competition and put the majority of their energy into leaf growth. This will result in a smaller crop at the end of the cycle. A radish is the tap root of the plant, this is where you want the energy being directed to. By providing enough space you can keep leaves from bolting and wasting energy.

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