How To Pick Radish: When Do I Harvest Radishes
By: Amy Grant
Radishes are an easy and rapidly growing crop that lends itself well to succession planting, which means an entire season of the crunchy, peppery roots. But what about harvesting radishes? Picking radishes at the correct time will enable you to enjoy the crop at its peak and dictate when to sow another planting. If you’re wondering “when do I harvest radishes,” read on to learn how to pick and when to pick radishes.
When Do I Harvest Radishes?
When you think of radishes, many people think of the small, round red type of radish but the fact is that there are a number of different types of radish in a variety of hues and sizes. Knowing what type of radish you are growing will tell you when to pick radishes.
The small red radish most of us are used to will be ready to harvest as soon as three weeks from planting. You can begin picking radishes when the roots are about an inch (2.5 cm.) across. Just pull one out to check on the size.
For winter radishes, such as Daikon, which can grow quite large before their quality deteriorates, pull before the ground freezes. Winter radishes can be stored in moist, cold storage for up to four months.
If you leave them too long before harvesting radishes, the root becomes quite pithy and, as temperatures warm, you risk the plant bolting.
How to Pick Radish
As previously mentioned, a good way to tell if the radishes are ready to be harvested is to simply pull one from the soil. If the soil is particularly crusted or hard, use a garden fork or trowel to gently lift the root from the soil.
Cut the tops and tail root from the radishes and wash them. Dry them well and store them in the refrigerator in a plastic bag until ready to use. Don’t forget about the radish greens! They are also edible and can be stored separately for up to three days.
Radishes can be planted and enjoyed throughout spring, summer and fall. They are great in salads and pasta dishes.
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The small red radish most of us are used to will be ready to harvest as soon as three weeks from planting. You can begin picking radishes when the roots are about an inch (2.5 cm.) If you leave them too long before harvesting radishes, the root becomes quite pithy and, as temperatures warm, you risk the plant bolting.
If you leave it too long, the radish will simply get spicier. If you have more radishes than you can eat at one time, try succession planting your radishes instead of planting a large area at once.
Radish Plant History
Radishes probably originated in China. They are certainly revered and highly appreciated in the Orient, particularly in Japan where the long, white daikon radish is a major food. The ancient Greeks prized radishes above all root crops, even making replicas of them in gold. The root crop was a common food in Egypt long before the pyramids were built, and was popular in ancient Rome as well. The word "radish" is a derivation of the Latin word "radix," or root. Columbus and the early settlers brought radishes to America. Today, radishes remain a favorite crop for home gardeners because they're so easy and quick to grow.
Radish Growing and Harvest Information
Radishes are a fast-growing, cool-season crop that can be harvested in as little as twenty days. There are well over 200 varieties: including French radishes, daikon radishes, and other specialty varieties in a surprising array of colors, including white, purple, black, and even green. Eaten raw they can be whole, sliced, diced, or grated. You can also cook and pickle them. Most of them are typically eaten fresh and make a good addition to a salad or a substitute to pepper on a sandwich.
Where to Grow Radishes
Radishes require a spot with full sun, fertile soil, and good drainage. Some varieties can be grown in partial shade. They will thrive in cool, moist soil. In cooler climates, they can be planted in both the spring and fall. In warmer climates, they should be grown over winter.
Recommended Radish Varieties
- Cherry Belle is the classic radish. Their roots are bright red, mildly pungent, and mature somewhere between 1/4 -1 inch in diameter. Cherry Belle is one of the few varieties that can be grown in the shade and matures in about 24 days.
- White Icicle radishes have a mildly hot flavor. They are white and about 6 inches long, maturing in about 20 days. This variety of radish requires well-cultivated soil as it has deeper roots than other varieties.
- French Breakfast is red with a white tip and a similar shape to the White Icicle. It has excellent flavor, withstands early summer heat, and is ready for harvest in about 24 days.
- Champion radishes are bright red with a crisp white flesh. They do best in cool weather and are a good choice for early or late season planting. They are ready to harvest in about 28 days.
- Easter Egg is a multicolored mix of red, purple, and white round radishes, these are a surprise every time you harvest them.
- Miyashige has long white roots and is the classic Asian daikon radish. Sow in late summer for a fall harvest. Miyashige stores and pickles well.
Soil for Radishes
Radishes are not very particular about soil type but will do best with rich, well-drained soil with a pH of about 6.5. Till the soil 6-10” deep, removing all rocks and mix in good compost. If your soil is clay, you may want to add some compost and sand to loosen it up a little. As most plants, they would prefer a healthy addition of compost worked into the soil at planting time to provide some good organic matter to the soil. Radishes do nicely where leaves have been worked into the soil the previous fall.
|Germination||45 - 85 F|
|For growth||60 - 65 F|
|Soil and Water|
|pH||6.0 - 7.0|
|Water||Even and moderate to heavy.|
|Seed Planting Depth||1/2"|
|Root Depth||3 - 6"|
|Height||2 - 6"|
|Width||2 - 6"|
|Space between plants|
|In Rows||1" (small) |
2" (large) - thin to 4 - 6" eventually
|Space Between Rows||8 - 12"|
|Average plants per person||10 - 20|
|Harvest radishes once the root has become plump. Harvest the whole crop at once.|
|First Seed Starting Date:||21 days before last frost date|
|Last Seed Starting Date:||45 Days before first frost date|
|Companions||Beets, carrots, spinach, parsnips, cucumbers, beans, lettuce|
|Incompatibles||Cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, broccoli, kohlrabi, turnips|
Radishes are particularly sensitive to any interruptions to their growth and consequently are best direct-seeded outdoors. They are sensitive to frost, but if required, they can be sown indoors about 2 weeks prior to the first frost. If sown indoors, use a biodegradable pot so that you can plant the whole pot when it comes time to transplant them outdoors to minimize disruptions to their root system. Whether you plant indoors or out, the most important thing is to keep the soil moist. Sow seeds about 1/2“ deep and about an inch apart, with 8-12” between rows, depending on how large your variety is. Once the radishes begin to grow, you can thin them to about every 2”.
Radishes can be sown wherever there is an empty space, from early spring until early summer, and starting again in the early fall. They make useful “row markers” sown among slow germinating plants like carrots and parsnips. By the time the carrots or parsnips have germinated, it is close to the time to harvest the radishes. Since they germinate in a few days, it makes weeding between the rows much easier.
Keep your rows of radishes weed-free and give them a heavy watering every three days to ensure proper root development.
Radishes are at their best for a very short time. If they are left in the ground too long, they will develop a sharp taste and a pithy texture, and their roots will eventually split. Radishes are ready to harvest in as little as 20 days, depending on the variety. Once the root has become plump, they are ready to pick. Harvest the whole crop once it matures, and store them in the refrigerator. If harvesting in hot weather, pull radishes from the soil and drop them into a bucket of cold water. Remove greens and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks. Storage can be extended up to several months in a properly maintained root cellar.
|Remove green tops and store in plastic bags or containers with some water inside the refrigerator.|
|32F||95 - 98%||2 - 4 weeks|
- Fleas Beetles will leave small holes in radish leaves and do seem to have a preference for radishes. Your radishes will likely do just fine even if the leaves have a few holes in them.
- Root Maggots will leave holes or channels in the radish skins.
A lightweight, floating row cover applied at the time the seeds go into the ground will keep flea beetles away, and also prevent root maggots from spoiling the roots.
Radishes as a trap crop
Insects tend to have preferences, much like humans when it comes to what they eat. They may eat one garden plant when it is the only thing available, but if given the choice, they might choose something they like better. These preferred plants are often within the same plant family. The same root maggots that like broccoli roots, also like radish roots. Flea beetles like broccoli and cabbage seedlings, but also like kale, turnips, pak choi, and radishes. That’s the idea behind a trap crop. You could, for instance, plant radishes with the primary intent that they would attract the root maggots and flea beetles and leave your broccoli and cabbage alone. Many gardeners have found radish to be a good trap crop to protect many of the cabbage family plants.
How to Pick Properly
Picking radishes is actually quite simple, and there is no secret. All you have to do is grasp the plant by the leaves that grow above ground and gently pull the vegetable out of the dirt. If for some reason, the ground is hard or has become overgrown by moss, you can use a small trowel to gently pick through the dirt until it is loose enough to remove the vegetable.
If you are trying to pick the heavier, thicker winter radishes, then you might need to use a garden fork. A garden fork is similar to a trowel but has several long, pointed tines that can help break up the earth. It might be necessary to dig above and around the radish to avoid tearing the greens from the vegetable. Remember to wet the soil if you’re struggling.
Once the radishes are harvested, wash them thoroughly before attempting to eat or store them. The vegetable needs to be scrubbed as much as possible, as dirt builds up on the outside. The radish greens are edible and work well in salads, so remove them from the radish root itself. They can last for three days, so rinse them and store them in the fridge.
As for the rest of the radish, most individuals prefer to chop off the top and bottom, where the roots can grow. Wash again, store the radishes in a plastic bag, and then put them in the fridge as well.
Handy tips for radish gardening
Take care of the soil
If you notice some crusting or drying out, gently put your fingers through the soil to air in. If the soil compacts or starts to become crusty, they won’t be enough room for the radishes to grow.
Don’t put too much nitrogen fertilizer. This won’t make your radish roots grow any bigger. In fact, it might just do the opposite. Using too much nitrogen-based fertilizer will make the leaves very big, but it won’t do much for the roots.
Also, use organic matter sparingly because it can have the same effect.
Grow your radishes together with a different plant. The other plant will help to ward off pests. Useful companion plants for your radish include cucumber and squash.
You can also grow the radishes together with other root plants like carrots. The radish will help loosen up the soils so the other plants can grow. You will harvest your radish way before the carrots are anywhere near maturity, so there won’t be any competition.
Growing radish is a reasonably easy and straightforward process. With the right conditions, you can harvest your crop in 21 to 60 days.
It requires a little trial and error to find out when they are ready just yank one out to see if it’s ready to use. Once they are big enough, harvest your crop and enjoy a variety of radish dishes.
Just remember not to leave your crop in the ground for too long, or you risk losing all of it.