Today’s radish harvest, Aug. 6, 2020. (Mary Lowther photo)

Today’s radish harvest, Aug. 6, 2020. (Mary Lowther photo)

Mary Lowther column: Radishes as good as gold

Radishes grow quickly and need a lot of water.

By Mary Lowther

In previous years I’ve sown garden rows dedicated to radishes, but this year I thought I’d follow author Dick Raymond’s advice and sow them along with other seeds to mark where their rows are. I may have been a bit too enthusiastic though because I’m getting bumper crops of them.

Ancient Greeks might have thought otherwise, given that, when they made offerings to Apollo, facsimiles of turnips made out of lead were presented, beets were made of silver, but radishes must have been valued more highly because they were made of gold. Early gardeners grew radishes as much for the leaves as the roots, where the leaves were mixed in with a salad of “small herbs”. In 1728, Batty Langley suggested sowing radish seed under a warm wall at the end of August or early September for a harvest about the middle of February. Sowing more seed under a cooler wall at the end of September would continue the harvest in the middle of March.

Radishes grow quickly and need a lot of water. This fits in well with newly-sown seeds because they, too, require daily watering until they sprout, and then every couple of days for a week or so and then onto the every four day schedule. On this regimen, my radishes turn out nice and juicy, not hot like they get when they’re under watered. I prepare the bed for the seeds to be sown by broadcasting organic fertilizer over the entire bed at the rate of 4 litres per hundred square feet, making a shallow furrow lengthwise down the bed where the hoses will go, sprinkling seeds of whatever crop I’m sowing down the furrow then sprinkling a few radish seeds along the same row. Then I lightly cover the seeds with the soil I had pushed aside, firmly patting down the soil and watering with a very light nozzle on the hose or watering can.

In this heat I water them twice a day until they sprout. Radishes can get away on a gardener very quickly because they have such a short growing period, so it’s good to harvest them before they start to send up a stalk or they’ll get tough and hot. I harvest them even if they look too small. The nice thing about sowing them with other seeds is that when the radishes are pulled out, it makes more room for the main crop. I’m sowing carrots, turnips and other root vegetables this way, and because I stagger the sowings for every three weeks, I’m getting a steady supply of radishes too.

I’ve grown round Spanish winter radishes that are brown on the outside and white on the inside and eight inch long Japanese daikon radishes, finding that both grow well in our wet winters and don’t go to seed until late the following spring. These should be sown no later than now.

It’s a good thing we like radishes because I see lots of radish/carrot/broccoli stem slaw in our immediate future.

Please contact mary_lowther@yahoo.ca with questions and suggestions since I need all the help I can get.

Columngardening