Guide to Growing Radishes
Guide to Growing Radishes
Radish – Raphanus sativus
One of the easiest of crops to grow, this subject can be cultivated in the open ground, the cold frame and the cool greenhouse. An excellent catch crop, it can be grown on the sides of celery or leek trenches or between rows ofor other salad plants. Some varieties are red, others white, while some are red and white. There is also a difference in shape, varying from round or globe to the half-long and fully long with a broad top. The newer varieties have clone away with the belief that radishes are hot and a cause of indigestion.
Radishes do not need deepbut the ground should be well prepared and remain nicely moist, for quick growth is required in order to secure crisp, succulent roots. Soil containing plenty of organic material is ideal since this ensures moisture retention. It is when the soil becomes dry that leafy growth is produced, with little or no bulb formation.
Do not sow the seed too thickly. While it is quite usual to spread the seed in a broadcast fashion, it is really best to sow in drills 15cm apart and about 12 mm deep. Make the soil firm after sowing for loose soil rarely produces firm roots. A half ounce of seed will sow two rows 4·50m long.
If flea beetles have been troublesome in the garden, it is wise to dust the drills with naphthalene before the seed is sown. Thin theas early as possible so that all have an opportunity to develop properly. Pull the roots as soon as they are of usable size. Left too long, they may become hard, woody and ‘hot’.
Varieties for early maturing outdoors include French Breakfast and Saxa, the latter being a small scarlet, quick maturing sort. Icicle is white, Wood’s Early Frame a long variety, deep pink in colour, and Sparkler is half-red and half-white.
Winter radishes can be sown during the summer the warmer the area the later the sowing. Make the drills 23 cm apart, the plants being thinned to 15 cm in the rows. The roots can be left in the ground to be dug as required or they can be lifted in early winter and stored in boxes of sand, sandy soil or peat. Winter radishes can also be grown in boxes although these should be at least 20 to 23 cm deep. For good results the roots require plenty of moisture in the growing season, otherwise they become stringy and very hot.
The variety China Rose is one of the best, being somewhat like a very large French Breakfast. The skin is cerise-red, the flesh white and crisp. Black Spanish has black skin and white flesh and both need slicing and are not eaten whole.
A most unusual variety is the Bavarian radish which forms roots the size of a large turnip, the top growth reaching 75 t0 90cm This is the variety one can see served in Bavarian beer halls where it is cut into spiral pieces or grated and served in salads. The decorative seed pods are an added attraction and it is said they make a useful sandwich filling if cut and used while they are green.
Although really an easy crop to grow, so often gardeners find they get plenty of top growth but small stringy roots. Few disappointments occur where seed is sown thinly on good ground never lacking in moisture, with shade from direct strong sunshine.