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Radishes

UK Garden Centre - Information on Radishes

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Many of today’s gardening experts began their outdoor horticultural careers with a packet of French Breakfast or Scarlet Globe. The summer or salad radish is an ideal starter vegetable for a child – it is practically trouble-free and the round or long roots are ready for salads or sandwiches in about a month. For the grown-up gardener the well-known red varieties are used to fill the space between rows of peas and carrots or as row markers mixed with slow-germinating seeds such as parsley, parsnips or onions. The radishes quickly germinate and so mark out the row and are ready for pulling before the main vegetable needs the space. It is a pity that so many people don’t take their radish knowledge beyond this stage. There are unusual varieties – small yellow roots, giant Japanese types for pulling in summer and even a radish which is grown for its pods rather than its roots. The large winter radish remains a vegetable for the adventurous even though it is easily grown for winter use in salads or as a hot vegetable. As with all vegetables, there is always something new to learn and try…

Seed facts
Expected germination time: 4-7 days
Approximate number per ounce: 3000
Expected yield from a 10ft row: 4lb (2kg) Summer varieties; 10lb (5kg) Winter varieties.
Life expectancy of stored seed: 6 years.
Approximate time between sowing and lifting: 3-6 weeks Summer varieties; 10-12 weeks Winter varieties.
Ease of cultivation: Easy

Soil facts
· All the textbooks will tell you that radishes relish a reasonably fertile, well-drained soil which is adequately supplied with humus and free from stones, but summer radishes usually have to put up with an odd corner without any thought about soil preparation.
· Despite this lowly status, they should be given some soil preparation so as to ensure the quick growth which is essential for tenderness and flavour. Dig some peat or well-rotted compost into the soil if it was not manured for a previous crop – apply a fertilizer before sowing and rake to a fine tilth.
· Choose a sunny spot for spring sowing but the summer crop needs some shade – sow between other vegetables.

Seed Sowing
· Dig drills ½ in (1cm) deep and sow very thinly, about 1 seed or seed pellet per inch, and cover with soil. Drills should be 6in (15cm) apart for summer varieties and 9in (23cm) apart for winter varieties.

Calendar
· Summer varieties: Sow under cloches in January or February or outdoors in March. For a prolonged supply sow every few weeks or try ‘Mixed Radish’ seed which contains varieties which mature at different times. Sowing after early June often gives disappointing results.
· Winter varieties: Sow in July or early August. Lift roots from late October onwards.
Lifting time: Usually early May to the end of August; can extend from early April to the end of February.

Looking after the crop
· With the summer varieties little or no thinning should be necessary – if there is any overcrowding then thin immediately so that the plants are spaced at 1in (2.5cm) (small radishes) or 2-4in (5-10cm) intervals (larger and Japanese radishes). With the winter varieties thin to leave the plants 6in (15cm) apart – make sure you carry out this thinning before the plants are overcrowded.
· Protect the crop against birds if they are a nuisance in your area. Spray with Derris or Crop Saver if flea beetles begin to perforate the leaves.
· Hoe to keep down weeds. Water if the soil is dry – rapid and uninterrupted growth is essential for top quality. Summer radish is not an easy crop to grow in July or August when the weather is hot dry. Swelling is often unsatisfactory and the roots may be woody and peppery.

Harvesting
· Pull the summer varieties when the globular ones are the diameter of a 5p coin and the intermediates are no longer than your thumb. They can, of course, grow much longer but overgrown specimens would be woody and hollow.
· Japanese varieties are best when pulled at the 6in (15cm) stage but they can be allowed to grow longer if required for cooking.
· The winter varieties can be left in the soil and lifted as required, provided that you cover the crowns with straw, bracken or peat. It is better to lift them in November and store as for carrots.

Varieties
Summer varieties – Globular, Intermediate, Long.
This is by far the more popular group – the radishes which garnish the salad plate. Most (but not all) are small and the usual colour is all red or a red/white mixture. There are variations – the Japanese types which can grow 1ft (30cm) long and the yellow and all-white varieties which have never become really popular.
Cherry Belle: Globular; all-red. A very popular radish – cherry-coloured on the outside and white, crisp and mild inside. It will remain in the ground for a considerable time without going pithy.
Scarlet Globe: Globular; all-red. Another popular round radish with bright red skin. A quick-maturing variety for early spring sowing.
Red Prince: Globular; all-red. One of the new radishes for which it is claimed that the roots remain crisp and mild when they are double or treble the diameter of a normal round radish. A good choice if you plan to sow in the difficult midsummer period.
Inca: Globular; all-red. Like Red Prince, this radish remains crisp for a long period and is better than most for summer sowing.
Saxerre: Globular; all-red. The top choice by the experts for sowing under cloches in January or February, more recent introductions for this purpose are Ribella, Robino and Crystal Ball.
Sparkler: Globular, red/white. Very quick growing, with no other outstanding virtues.
French Breakfast: Intermediate; red/white. One of the most popular of all radishes. The cylindrical roots are crisp and mild when pulled at the proper time but hot and woody if harvesting is delayed.
Yellow Gold: Intermediate; yellow. A real novelty – an oval radish, golden yellow on the outside and white inside.
Large White Icicle: Long; white. An excellent choice, producing in a few weeks 3in (7cm) long roots which are crisp and nutty-flavoured. It has never really become popular as we expect radishes to be red.
Minowase Summer: A Japanese-type radish, producing roots up to 12in (30cm) long. Sow in May and begin pulling when the roots are 6in (15cm) long – harvesting can continue for about a month. Excellent for filling the summer period.
April Cross: A mooli or Japanese radish – like Minowase Summer will reach 12in (30cm) or more. Can be sown in spring.
München Bier: The odd one of the group, both in name and use. It grows about 2ft (60cm) high and it is the pods (eaten raw or boiled) and not the roots which are harvested.

Winter Varieties
The Cinderella group, rarely grown and only a few varieties are listed in the catalogues. The roots are large, measuring a foot or more and weighing up to several pounds. They have white, black or pink skins and a flavour which is usually stronger than the summer varieties.
China Rose: Not really a giant – the oval roots are about 5in (12cm) long and 2in (5cm) wide. The skin colour is deep rose, the flesh crisp and white.
Black Spanish Round: A large globular variety, black-skinned and white-fleshed. Like China Rose it appears in most catalogues – others are not easy to find.
Black Spanish Long – Similar to Black Spanish Round apart from its shape – 1ft (30cm) long and tapered like a parsnip.
Mino Early: Foot-long cylindrical roots with a flavour which is milder and perhaps more acceptable for salads than the other winter varieties.

Troubles
See Turnip.


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