Growing Radishes: Harvesting for Fall Food

Growing Radishes: Harvesting for Fall Food

Remember that time you didn’t take a bath for days, and a crop of radishes starting sprouting from your arms and legs?

Right, me either.

But as a child with an over-active imagination, parented in part by Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books, I was oft worried / left wondering if perhaps the Radish Cure could happen to me. Prescribed by Mrs. P-W to solve the problem of Patsy, the story of a little girl who wouldn’t take a bath, and her parents who turned for advice to the wise Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, who, by the way, lived in an upside down house.  Mrs. P-W’s solution? Let Patsy skip bath time.  And while she slept, her parents secretly planted radish seeds into the layers of dirt that built up on her arms and legs.  And voila!  One morning, Patsy’s little limbs had turned into a vegetable garden!

It was both terrifying and tempting – could I *get* that dirty that a garden would grow on my arms?  And now that I’m all grown up and (mostly) don’t believe in fairy-tales, is it freaky to harbor the idea of using EVERY surface to harvest food?  (Don’t answer that.)
If getting so dirty that you could grow arm-veggies does not appeal to you, here’s how to grow radishes the (yawn) regular way.

  • Pick a place, in your open garden, a raised bed, or a container.  In any space, you will plant the seeds directly into the earth.
  • Radishes will grow fastest in full-sun, and according to MadAboutGardening, a quick ripening provides the best taste and crisp texture.  But if you’re planting in the full-hot-heat of summer, choose a spot that offers a little shade.
  • Prepare your soil with a mix of sandy loam and compost, so the radish roots can easily burrow deep down.
  • Plant seeds 3 to 6 inches apart.
  • Water evenly to keep the soil moist.
  • Watch them grow.
  • Harvest when you see the red radish tops pushing up through the soil.
  • Eat: add raw to a salad, or roast if the weather has cooled down!

Radishes are annuals that produce one root per seed planted, so consider waiting a couple weeks and planting another row, to have an ongoing harvest.  Check with your seed-seller for the best variety for your region and when you plan to plant.  MadAboutGardening, based in Portland, Oregon, likes to plant in the spring, but late summer is a great time to plant radishes. As Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle knew, they grow quickly, and can be ready to roast and add to your fall menu in three weeks to a month.  Bon appétit!

(Photo Credit: Wild Roots)