How to Grow and Care for Radishes

Radishes are a fun crop providing quick yields and a high likelihood of success. Beginner gardeners plant radishes to get a win under their belt. Experienced gardeners plant them because they love them. Either way, these easy-to-grow root vegetables can be eaten raw or cooked in soups, salads, or as part of a veggie tray and dipped in ranch dressing (we won’t tell; it still counts as eating your veggies). Here is how to grow and care for radishes in your garden!

Radishes are also great for loosening soil, and their rapid growth can make them part of a good cover crop to quickly get live, growing roots in the ground for your soil microbial life. Their fast canopy closure also helps to keep a lid on weed growth. 

How to Plant and Grow Radishes

Radishes are direct seeded, whether in the ground or containers. They don’t need to be started in trays or cells and planted out, and in fact, will do worse if transplanted. Radishes germinate in as little as four days in proper temperatures, providing about as close to instant gratification as a gardener can get. 

Choose a site in full sun — at least six hours per day. Radishes are not picky about pH but need loose, well-drained soil. Work in some compost if your soil is nutrient-poor. Loosen any compacted soil to a depth of about six inches. 

Radishes can be grown successfully in containers, yielding tasty treats and some greenery on the patio. Round radishes require less container depth than finger types. A pot 12 inches in diameter and eight inches deep will grow a nice mini-crop of radishes in a sunny spot on your deck.

Plant radish seeds a half inch deep in rows, with about one inch between seeds. Thin down to two inches between plants as soon as they develop edible-sized small roots. Larger daikon radish varieties will need four to six inches between plants as they mature. 

Succession plant radishes every seven to ten days for a continuous supply of prime roots. Plant only a few more radishes than you’ll use in a week. I’ve made the mistake of planting a 12-foot row of radishes all at once and then having radishes coming out of my ears. Radishes left to become overmature often get woody or pithy, and some varieties get too spicy. Toss too-large radishes in the compost pile and replant.

Radishes need evenly moist soil, and drought stress will cause woody growth or early bolting. Too much water, however, can cause the roots to split. Aim for about an inch per week, and use mulch around their bases to shade the soil and keep the moisture level even. If you stick your finger into the soil an inch deep and it’s dry, give them a drink.

How to Harvest Radishes

Most radishes are ready to harvest three to five weeks after germination, but early harvesting for thinning can happen as soon as two weeks. For round radishes, begin to check them (pull one up!) when the “shoulders” of the radish start to push up slightly, and the root is about one inch in diameter. Longer, slender radishes like French Breakfast types won’t get as wide. If you’ve grown a baseball-sized radish, admire it, then toss it and succession plant!

If your radishes start to bolt, i.e., flower, harvest them all (if you want to eat them). Bolting will stop the plant from putting energy into the edible root and can cause woody, pithy flesh with poor taste. Radishes commonly bolt in heat, so if your crop is starting to bolt before it reaches mature size, that’s a sign you may need to wait until the cooler weather of fall before restarting your radish plantings. 

While radishes purchased at the store often have the greens still attached to make them look fresh and attractive, at home, cut the greens off half an inch above the root after harvest. Wash off the excess soil and keep them in the veggie drawer of your refrigerator or eat them fresh. 

Radish FAQs

two bunches of radishes and greens

Can dogs eat radishes? 

Yes, it’s okay for your dog to have a few radishes. Radishes are loaded with healthy vitamins and minerals for us and our dogs. However, many dog owners find that their pup doesn’t like the taste. 

Are all radishes spicy?

Crispy, crunchy, and spicy are a radish’s claim to fame, but like other produce, flavor varies amongst varieties. For the most part, white radishes and varieties like French Breakfast are milder, while darker red and black radishes have more zing. Roasting radishes in the oven brings out their sweetness and tempers the spice. Harvest radishes earlier (smaller roots) for less heat.

Do watermelon radishes taste like melon?

Unfortunately, no. They get their name from their watermelon-colored flesh inside of a white skin that resembles (in color) a watermelon rind. They are less spicy and make a gorgeous and tasty addition to your veggie plate!

Can you eat radish greens?

Yes, but you’ll likely want to cook them. Raw radish greens have a fuzzy, unpleasant texture akin to munching on green sandpaper. However, they are delicious and peppery steamed or sautéed. Use them as you would other greens. Young greens are milder, while older greens from long-maturity varieties can be spicier.


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