Looking for a fast-growing vegetable well-suited for container gardening? Then you should consider growing radishes. Radishes (Raphanus sativus / Curciferae) are versatile, peppery vegetables in the cabbage family that pack a lot of flavor into one, small, colorful package. Plus, they grow so quickly they’re rarely a target for garden pests and insects.
How to Grow Radishes From Seed
Whether this is your first time growing radishes or you’re just hoping to get the most from your crop this year, here are some tips that should help you get your radish seeds off to the right start.
- Because radishes are sensitive to root disturbances, sow them directly into the containers or ground in which they will grow.
- Compared to most seeds, radish seeds will tolerate relatively cool germination temperatures (down to 45° F) so you can sow them as soon as the soil is workable.
- Plant seeds in moist soil at about 1/2″ deep.
- Seeds germinate quickly (4-12 days), and grow particularly well in sandy or porous soil.
- Radishes are one of the few self-seeding crops that you can eat, so, if you’re adventurous enough to give it a shot, let your radishes go to seed and see if they pop up in the same area next year. They may surprise you!
Tips for Growing Radishes
Other than avoiding root disturbances, it’s really not hard to successfully grow radishes. Once your seedlings are established, follow these general growing guidelines and your small sprouts should turn into mighty orbs in no time:
- To avoid cracking, water evenly and well.
- Radishes mature quickly and all at once, so use succession planting in short rows to time your harvest schedule.
- To avoid overly bitter or “pithy” radishes, harvest them as soon as they are ready. Radishes left in the ground past their pull date quickly lose their good, crisp flavor and take a turn for the bitter.
- Remember that larger cultivars (like Daikon and Dragon) are slower growing, and will take longer to mature than the typical 22-30 days.
- While radishes themselves are rarely in the ground long enough to be bothered by pests, they are one of the few vegetable plants that repel insects. For a little natural protection against cucumber beetle infestation, intersperse radishes throughout your garden. (Between rows or as marker heads are popular places.)
- The right size container for radishes and other shallow-rooted plants is about 8″ to 12″ deep. If you start your radish seedlings in a small starter container (not recommended), be sure to transplant them into the right size container.
Companion Planting with Radishes
For those of you interested in companion planting, radishes are good companion plants for many root vegetables (including beets, carrots and parsnips) and lettuces (including spinach), but rumor has it that they do not do well when planted near cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts (although this could be because they are all in the Brassica family).
For growing specifications for growing radishes (like preferred soil pH, planting depths and germination rates), check out the Gardening Guides page.