Botanical Name: Raphanus sativus
Common Name(s): Garden Radish
Flavor Profile: Flavor can vary depending on the variety. It ranges from mild and sweet to spicy, peppery and pungent.
Radishes (Raphanus sativus) are a member of the Brassicaceae family and are closely related to cabbages, turnips, and mustards. It is thought to have originated in Asia and is now widely cultivated around the world. It is an annual cool-season easy-to-grow vegetable. In form, it is most closely resemble turnips. The root grows at and below the soil line and is topped with a small bunch of green leaves. The ease and fast growing rate make it a favorite amongst both young and novice gardeners.
Radishes come in many colors and shapes. It may be spherical/globe shaped or elongated carrot-shaped. It comes in a rainbow of colors and can be black, green, white, pink, red, purple or yellow. It is crunchy, crisp and juicy in texture. Flavor wise will vary widely depending on the variety growing.They are mainly grouped into three types based on its varying keeping quality: spring, summer and winter.
Spring radishes are small brightly colored (red, pink, purple, and white) and can be harvested in less than a month.
- ‘Cherry Belle’ radishes are round, bright red, and relatively sweet.
- ‘Easter Egg’ radishes are a mix of lavender, pink, rose, red, white crisp and mild oval roots that mature in about 25 days.
Summer radishes tolerate heat better than spring types.
- ‘White Icicle’ is white, carrot shaped, and mild in flavor.
- “French Breakfast” is red with white bottom, mild in flavor and is also on the sweet side.
Winter radishes are typically white, black and green in colors. It requires shortening day length and cool temperatures to form roots. They are large and take longer to mature. The upside is they do not become spicy and pithy quickly in the garden and can be stored much better and longer.
- ‘Miyashige’ is white in color with a light, slightly spicy flavor.
- ‘Watermelon’ is a popular Chinese variety with a greenish white exterior and a vibrant fuchsia interior that grows to be a large, 3″ round, mild radish that can weigh up to 1 pound each!
- ‘Green Loubo’ is a sweet, crispy, green flesh radish with a white tip.
Radishes are most often eaten raw but the entire radish plant is edible. Young radish greens are edible and are enjoyed fresh or cooked. Older greens are tougher and often have a peppery taste. Both the root and the greens become tough and bitter as they mature, especially in hot weather. The flowers are often used as garnish and adds a mild spicy kick to salads. Young seed pods are eaten raw in salads or is often pickled.
Summer/spring radish root itself just needs a good scrub under running water and then slice, dice, shred or serve whole. There is no need to peel. The larger varieties like daikon hold up great during cooking in soups, stews and stir fries. They are also eaten raw, preserved or substituted in any recipes that call for turnips. They’re light and refreshing rather than heavy or starchy in taste and texture like most root vegetables.
Favorable Growing Conditions
Before we get into the steps of growing radish, let’s talk about what radish likes and dislikes. Generally, you want radishes to grow quickly without stress for tender, juicy, flavorful yield. All practices for feeding the soil, watering and environmental conditions that slow growth will most likely give you radishes that are woody in texture and too pungent to be palatable. Typically over-mature radishes are pithy or spongy in texture and are spicy and even bitter in flavors.
Radishes are a cool season crop, preferring temperatures between 40-70°F with ideal temperature range being around 60-65°F. Most radish varieties can hold up well in cooler temperatures and will survive a freeze. They will likely develop flowers and go to seeds, develop excessively hot flavor or become woody when the temperature goes up.
Radishes prefer light, sandy loams with pH 6.5 – 7.0, but will tolerate a wide range of soil types. If your soil is more acidic, you may need to add some lime. In general, it should take about 2 tablespoons of lime per square foot to shift your soil 1 pH point.
Radishes needs at least six hours of sun a day. When there is too much shade, it discourages root development.
Radishes generally need moderation when it comes to watering. The peak demand is during rapid growth and development. If the soil is too dry, radishes will bolt and become pithy and too pungent to eat. If too wet, the roots will split and rot.
In Florida, the best time to grow radish is September through March. Depending where you are, you may plant radish seeds from early April when the soil temperature is above 40°F through early May for a spring crop, and again August 1 through September 1 for a fall crop when the temperature below 95°F.
The general rule of thumb for the depth to sow seeds is usually the diameter (size) of the seed. For spring and summer varieties, sow seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep and 3/4 inch deep for larger winter varieties. When they get to about two inches tall, you can thin the plants to two to three-inch spacings. For larger varieties, you’ll want to give them a little more room so about four to six inches between plants.
Ten Steps to Growing Your Own Radishes
Problems You May Encounter
As a member of the Brassicaceae family, radishes are susceptible to many of the same pests and diseases as other members of the cabbage family: whiteflies, aphids, mites, caterpillars, nematodes, and root rot. Stay ahead of pests by checking regularly. Asides from that, here are some of the common problems you may encounter when growing radishes.
Storing and Preserving the Harvest
Daikon and garden radish will keep well in the refrigerator especially with the leafy tops removed. The leaves cause moisture and nutrient loss during storage. Store greens separately for 2-3 days. Refrigerate radishes wrapped in plastic bags are good for 5 to 7 days. Winter radish varieties can be stored for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.
Due to the high water content, summer radishes do not freeze well. Freezing radishes will alter the taste and texture. Cutting and blanching them prior to freezing helps to minimize this unwanted effect. Last up to 6 months in the freezer.
Spring and summer radishes are generally not dried or dehydrated. It’s more common to salt and dehydrate winter radishes for storage.
Summer and winter radishes are best pickled.
Kimchi radish and Choi Poh – Chinese Sweet-Salty Preserved Radish. Both methods involve salting the radish to remove excess moisture. For kimchi, a glutinous rice paste mixed with fish sauce, pepper flakes, ginger and garlic is worked into the radishes and left to ferment. With choi poh, the radish is then covered with more salt, wrapped in clean cloth or dish towel, weighed down and allow to ferment. It’s then marinated in equal part sugar and water syrup, drained and dehydrated until dry but not crisp. In a vacuum seal bag, it keeps pretty much indefinitely at room temps although it is best to refrigerate after it is opened.
CỦ CẢI TRẮNG NGÂM NƯỚC TƯƠNG – SOY MARINATED DAIKON
2 large daikons, washed, peeled and cut into batons
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of soy sauce
3-4 cloves of garlic, sliced
Peel and cut daikon into batons.
Massage 1-2 tbsp of salt into cut daikon for an hour or so. Then rinse, drain and squeeze to remove excess water.
Sun dry or place radishes in a dehydrator until radishes are half in size and are still pliable. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Prepare marinade. In a saucepan, combine soy sauce, sugar, pepper and garlic until all sugar crystals are dissolved. Set aside to cool.
Transfer radish to a clean and sterilized container. Pour in marinade. Make sure everything is submerged and press to remove air bubbles.
Seal and refrigerate before serving. Ideally a couple days for daikon to really soak up all the flavors.
DỒ CHUA – CARROTS AND DAIKON QUICK PICKLE
3-4 carrots, peeled and julienned
1 large daikon, peeled and julienned
1 cup of vinegar
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of water
Peel and julienned carrots and daikon as thick or thin as you like it.
Massage 1-2 tbsp of salt into the cut vegetables for half an hour or so. Then rinse, drain and squeeze to remove excess water. Set aside.
In a saucepan, combine water, sugar and vinegar. Stir until all the sugar has dissolved. Set aside to cool down.
Transfer cut vegetables to a clean container. Pour the brine in. Be sure to submerge everything.
Seal and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before enjoying it with any of your favorite savory dishes!