Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southwestern Deserts
January, 2001
Regional Report

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Radishes come in an assortment of colors, shapes, and flavors and are easy to grow.

Radishes Are More Than Red

I've noticed that kids love to yank root crops out of the ground. Whether they want to eat them is another matter, but the act of pulling a vegetable out of the soil (and seeing what it's attached to) seems to give great satisfaction. I once watched a little fellow methodically pull up a 15-foot row of carrots at a U-pick garden before his mother, busy harvesting vegetables in another row, spotted him. She bought many more carrots than she had planned on that week.

Great for Kids

Radishes are a fun root crop to grow if you're gardening with children. The seeds germinate fast, usually within a few days, and crops mature quickly (within 3-4 weeks) so kids can see speedy results from their efforts. Radish seed is relatively inexpensive, so you can plant a lot of it and not feel too bad if one of your little gardeners goes on a harvesting binge, before or after the crop is ready.

Planting and Growing

Radishes aren't terribly fussy about soil conditions, although like any root vegetable, they'll perform better in a rich, organic soil that's loose and well drained. Mix a phosphorus-rich source into the soil before sowing. Radishes grow best during cool weather conditions. In the low desert, seeds can be sown from September through mid-April. So there's still plenty of time to plant a radish crop (or even two) right now. A key technique is to thin the seedlings as they grow to allow space for root development.

Radish Varieties

Round and red is what comes to mind for most people when they hear the word "radish." And most think of radishes as small and spicy hot. However, there's more to radishes than meets the eye or tongue.

Radishes are available in an assortment of colors (reds, pinks, whites, and even black), shapes (carrot like, small and round, or large and round like beets and turnips), and flavors (hot to mild). Some examples of varieties to try include elongated, all-white types such as Japanese daikons and round, multicolored varieties such as 'Easter Egg'. Browse seed catalogs and Web sites for some of the interesting varieties now available. Some of these take more days to mature, but as a bonus they can remain longer in the soil without developing a woody or "pithy" texture.

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