Radishes are annual root vegetables. They belong to the Brassicaceae family, which also includes vegetables such as broccoli, kale, collards, cabbage, cauliflower, and horseradish. Their shapes range from round to oblong and their color can be red, pink, purple, white, or a combination of two of these colors.
Radishes grow quickly, with some smaller varieties maturing in just 30 days and larger varieties taking up to 60 days. They typically grow to be 6 to 8 inches tall.
Radishes are native to Asia, but were first domesticated in Europe. Their name comes from the Latin word “radix,” which means root. The Greek name for radishes is “Raphanus,” which fittingly means “quickly appearing.”
Radishes should be planted in full sun, as they need a daily average of at least 6 hours of direct sunlight. They prefer slightly acidic to neutral soil, with a pH ranging from 6 to 7. The soil should ideally be moist and well-drained, and it should not be compact or heavy so that the roots are able to grow. They grow best in USDA Hardiness Zones 2-11.
Radishes can be directly planted in the ground in early spring. Their planting can be staggered so that the radishes are ready successively. When the temperature reaches over 65 degrees, they should not be planted again until the fall, because they will bolt, or prematurely go to seed, if planted at high temperatures. They can be planted up until four weeks before the first frost in the fall.
Radish seeds should be placed half an inch into the soil when planted. Each radish should be planted 1 to 2 inches apart. Once sprouting, at about one week old, they should be thinned so each plant is 3 inches apart. If this is not done, the radishes will be crowded and this will lead to small, inedible roots. They should be regularly watered, with the soil being kept moist.
For more information on how to grow radishes, watch this video:
Radishes can be used to loosen and cultivate soil. Because they grow and are harvested very quickly, they can be planted alongside other, slower growing plants, in order to improve soil conditions.
The most common use for radishes is for cooking. All parts of the radish can be cooked, from the main taproot to the leaves and stem. They can be roasted and eaten whole, added to salads, added to cabbage slaws, and more.
Another, more untraditional use for radishes is to use the juices to relieve itching from mosquito bites.
Radishes can be planted alongside flowers and other pollinator plants to attract bees and other pollinators. Additionally, they can be planted with carrots and other slow growing crops.