Radishes are powerhouses of vitamins and nutrition that are eaten, mostly raw, all over the world, often mixed in with stews or in different salads. Radishes are rich in Vitamin C which helps in rebuilding your tissues, keeping your bones and teeth strong, and rebuilding your blood vessels. A simple fact is that consuming your Vitamin C-rich radishes can help in fighting diseases and rescues cells from destructive free radicals. Being a good source of fiber, radish also helps your system to function regularly, as well as keeping a healthy metabolism. Plus, consuming radishes has been shown to help regulate blood sugar levels, prevent dehydration, aid in urinary health, reduce fever, and lots more.
Radishes are a popular early spring or fall and winter garden crop in our Hays County gardens, planted and harvested early and seemingly impervious to our normal winter frost. Radishes can grow in partial shade, require very little room, and mature very quickly. They are well suited to small gardens, flower beds, and containers. Heck, a row just about six feet long is plenty of space to provide for a family of four.
Radishes need loose, well-drained soil to allow the roots to expand easily. If the soil is crusty, the roots become misshapen. To prepare the soil, remove rocks, trash, and large sticks from the planting area. Compost or small amounts of plant material such as grass and leaves can be mixed into the soil to make it richer. I prefer to grow my radishes in raised beds filled with a wonderful light, fluffy, compost rich soil.
Begin thinning the radishes when the roots start expanding. Pull every other plant. The larger roots can be eaten; those left in the row will continue to get bigger without being crowded. Keep the radishes free of weeds, which rob weak root systems of nutrients and moisture.
Harvest your radishes when they are young and tender, if left in the ground too long, they get tough and hot tasting. Simply pull the radishes out of the soil, cut off the tops and wash the radishes well. Unlike store bought radishes, home-grown radishes will keep 2 to 3 weeks in the refrigerator, or until the next planting is ready for harvest.
Because radishes mature so quickly, diseases usually are not a problem. Check the plants daily and treat them with an approved fungicide if you must, but only if diseases appear. Neem oil, sulfur, and other fungicides are available for this purpose. Always read and follow the label directions.
After the radishes get too old or start going to seed, pull them out and place them in your compost pile if the soil is to be replanted soon. If the soil is to be left idle, the old radishes and tops can be turned into the soil, helping to build the soil. Or better yet, allow the radishes to stay in the ground serving as a green cover crop until you are ready to plant in that area again – they will be very beneficial to the soil micro-structure and the subsurface microbiology.