Radishes deserve more praise than they get. They’ll keep in your fridge for months after harvest. Pick in February and have them in a salad on Memorial Day (usually around May 29th for people outside the USA). Of course, you should eat them sooner for a better flavor. Try keeping in the refrigerator for a while and see how you like them though – they don’t lose much flavor over time.
If you want them BIG, there’s a radish variety for you. If you want them HOT you can get that too (just leave ’em in longer). We’re talking about the easiest garden vegetables to start from seed! Let’s get into it.
When To Sow:
Late November through March in zone 9A, specifically Tucson. After (or one month before) last frost everywhere else. Daytime high temperatures should average 85F. These are frost and freeze hardy so no worries if it comes early.
These need full sun, at least 5-7 hours. Plant in containers so you can move them around if you over- or under-estimate the amount of sun they would get. Plant in raised beds if you have some experience. You’ll have an extended growing season with frost protection.
In the desert, you want to save water. Try adding perlite. This is a man-made mineral that takes up water and holds onto it for dear life. Here’s the mixture:
One (scoop) part each of perlite, sand, potting mix, and compost (I use home-made soldier fly compost, it’s the easiest to come by and it works wonders).
Mix all of these ingredients together and you’ve got yourself the perfect soil for winter. It will be useless in the humid summer months in the desert for about 100 reasons. Leave out the perlite for year round use.
Note: This soil will work well for most winter vegetables. I’ve had success with tatsoi, red & icicle radish, and dill, and now oregano!
Now that you have the soil ready, water it down a bit to make it easier to plant.
Next, find a pencil. Measure, from the pointed end, one half (1/2) inch. Mark that length on the pencil with a permanent marker, or scratch it with a knife (or just use the ~old~ ruler!).
Take the pencil/ruler and push it in until the top of the soil reaches the mark you made. Do this in rows, 3-4 inches apart on all sides. The farther apart they are the better, but 4 inches should be the maximum distance they need.
Plant two seeds per hole, unless your seed packet shows close to a 100% germination rate, then plant one seed per hole. You can trust that number when it comes to radishes.
Cover, water, and wait.
Water one to two times per week, or as needed, until each plant germinates. Seed not germinate? Try again in about the same spot!
Radishes love having enough water, and only split open when they’ve been in the ground for too long.
Because this is a cold-weather plant, and because the soil will hold onto water, you may find that watering once every two weeks AFTER germination works fine. You will know they need water if their leaves droop; it is OK to use that as an indicator.
Since radishes mature to picking-size in about a month, that should be all you need to know. Bugs won’t be a worry until the month of March, and after that the weather in Tucson is too hot for growing them.
Keep a stash of radishes in the refrigerator, and enjoy until the end of spring.
That’s pickin’, not picklin’. Grab ’em by the bottom of the leaf stems and pull. If that doesn’t work, I don’t know what will. They should come up no problem. If they are white icicle radishes, they may even push themselves up!
Don’t worry about keeping the leaves clean of soil, plant diseases mostly crop up (haha!) in the warm summer months. I told you these would be easy!
Thank you for reading, I hope this helps you!
Please leave a comment with your radish stories – how long did they last in the fridge? Have you ever tried pickled radishes, and did you like them? As a pickle connoisseur, I did not like it. There must be something wrong with me, right?