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"How to Grow",  All Things Garden,  Beginner Basics

How to Grow Radishes: From Seed to Table

Radishes are one of the most quick-maturing, versatile, easy-to-grow crops in the garden! I think they’re also some of the most under-appreciated and underestimated of crops! Radishes make for a perfect “filler crop” between seasons or in oddball empty spaces. Since they take up so little space, they can easily be grown in containers as well as in raised garden beds, or right in the ground. Radishes are not just for salads either. They are absolutely delicious when fermented, roasted, sautéed, and added to soup or stir fry too. Furthermore, the greens are edible! Daikon greens are particularly tasty, and chock full of nutrients.

Do you want to learn how to grow radishes? Then read along! We’ll discuss the different types of radishes, best timing for planting, tips for preparing your soil, sowing seeds, proper spacing, how to thin them, when to harvest, and also several tasty ways to use radishes in the kitchen.


If you are thinking, “but I don’t even like radishes…” hear me out. I actually used to not like radishes either, at all really – until we started growing them ourselves that is! You don’t need to be a fan of their classic radish spice either. Some types are very mild and even sweet, like many daikon varieties. There are dozens of different radish varieties, colors, shapes, sizes, and flavor profiles to choose from! Despite my early life experience and disfavor for radishes, they’re one of my favorite crops to grow in the garden now!

So what do you think? Feel like giving them a go? Oh good! Let’s get started then. Make sure to check out the video all about growing radishes at the end of this post too!


An image of colorful cut radishes, in slices laid out side by side on a cutting board, looking down. They're organized by color, going from white to purple to green.
Daikon radishes. From top left to bottom right: Green Luobo, Bravo, and Alpine.

Types of Radishes: Maturation Time


Most people are familiar with the classic round radish varieties, usually just under the size of a golf ball. These guys are quicker-maturing, and can be ready to harvest in as little as 30 days after planting when grown in ideal conditions! Our favorite varieties of round, fast-developing radishes are Pink Beauty, Cherry Belle, Plum Purple, and Zlata. In addition to round radishes, some smaller cylindrical varieties also mature in a short window. Popular examples include the French Breakfast Radish, or White Icicle.

Daikon radishes, or Asian “winter” types, take a bit longer to mature. Did you know that “Daikon” is simply a class of radish, not just one variety? Many people think of daikons and immediately envision the classic long, thick white radish – like a Miyashige. Oh my gosh, they’re so good…. But know that daikons can come in all sorts of shapes, colors, and sizes too! A few of our top choices for daikon varieties include: Bravo, Green Luobo, Watermelon, and Miyashige. Expect these radishes to be ready to harvest in 60-90 days, depending on the variety and climate.

Size images of various types of radishes. The top three photos are of quicker-maturing radishes: Candela di Fuoco, Zlata, Pink Beauty, Cherry Belle, and French Breakfast. The bottom row of images are all longer-maturing Daikon radishes: Watermelon, Black Spanish Round, Bravo, and a classic white Miyashige.
The top three photos are of quicker-maturing radishes: Candela di Fuoco, Zlata, Pink Beauty, Cherry Belle, and French Breakfast. The bottom row of images are all longer-maturing Daikon radishes: Watermelon, Black Spanish Round, Bravo, and a classic white Miyashige.


Planting a Little Bit of Everything

When planting radishes, we always fill a raised bed with many varieties, sowing a couple rows of each type! However, when you do this type of mixed-planting, I suggest to keep the slower-maturing radishes in one section of the bed, and the smaller, faster-maturing types grouped in another. For example, dedicating one-half of the garden bed to daikons, and the other half to round radishes.

That way, when the faster ones are ready to be harvested, you can clear that section to make space for something else! Meanwhile, the slower guys can take their time all together, out of the way. You may even be able to fit in two rounds of quick radishes during the time the daikons are maturing!

Furthermore, think about the location of the sun. Daikons get taller greens and may shade out shorter little radishes. Therefore, keep those ones “in the back”, such as on the north side of the bed if you are located in the northern hemisphere – since the majority of the sun exposure will come from the south.

Three types of daikons. Some are very long and white, almost a foot long, bigger than carrots (Miyashige). The others are more oblong, like a squished baseball or large egg (bravo is purple, green luobo is green). They're sitting on a tree stump in a garden
Our three favorite daikons: Bravo (bright purple in the middle, sweet and less spicy), Green Luobo (green and white in the middle, mildly spicy), and the classic white Miyashige (very mild, crisp, juicy, and sweet!). All three are wonderful fresh, cooked, or fermented!


When to Plant Radishes:


Radishes grow best when directly sown in place. Like most root crops, they do not take well to transplanting. Most varieties of radish prefer cooler weather, and can tolerate a very mild frost, perfect for spring and fall in most climates. Here in frost-free zone 9b/10a, we can grow them right through the winter! They do drastically slow down however, so it is best to get them sown by late fall for a winter crop.

There are also some heat-tolerant varieties that can be grown through summer, especially if they’re provided a little afternoon shade or shade cloth. The longer-maturing Asian radishes are best sown in mid to late summer for a fall to early winter harvest. When you are seed shopping, read up on the variety you’re interested in to see what type of growing conditions it prefers.

Generally speaking, radish seeds can be sown outdoors a couple weeks prior to your last spring frost date, which varies by growing zone.

Check your planting calendar to see exactly when your frost dates and suggesting planting times are. If you don’t have one already, I have you covered! The free Homestead and Chill subscriber garden planning toolkit has planting calendars for every zone. It will be emailed to you immediately upon sign-up!



Succession Planting Radishes


As a fast-maturing crop, radishes are ideal for succession planting! In case you aren’t familiar with this concept, succession planting is when new batches of a crop are planted over a staggered timeframe. For example, sowing radish seeds in March and then again a few weeks later in April. As the first batch matures and nears harvest time, the next batch is starting to come along behind it. The practice of succession planting enables you to have a sustained and steady supply of that veggie over a longer period of time.


Soil Preferences


Radishes enjoy soil that is rich with compost. They will tolerate a mild slow-release fertilizer, but do not like too much nitrogen. High-nitrogen fertilizers can lead to large radish greens, but little-to-no bulb development. Like other root crops, radishes will do best in a loose, fluffy, well-draining soil over a more compacted or rocky soil type.

A close up image from the soil line perspective, peering through a row of perfectly spaced pink-red round radishes growing in a raised bed. They're mature and half exposed, pushing up our of the deep rich soil line. Light is shining in the background, illuminating the green stems.
Pink Beauty radishes growing in rich, loose soil that has been amended with compost. Pink beauties just might be my favorite smaller radish. They’re uniform, tasty, and never seem to split!


Growing Radishes in Containers

If you are going to grow radishes in a container, I suggest using something more wide and shallow over one that’s tall and narrow. The more surface area to plant them, the better! That means more space for more radishes. Small round radishes could grow in as little as 6” deep, while daikon types would prefer at least 12”. For example, we have successfully grown garlic in this wide 10-gallon smart pot. Garlic has a similar need for spacing and soil depth.

When growing radishes in containers, the same type of spacing, thinning, and care described below applies just the same. However, keep in mind that some containers will dry out more quickly than raised beds or in-ground gardens, so you may have to increase your water frequency. The container needs good drainage too!


Sowing and Spacing


Before you start planting, read the seed package to see what type of spacing is recommended for the given varieties you chose to grow. Most types of radish will call for about 2-3 inches of spacing. However, some types get rather large and will need a bit more space!

I am known for being a bit type-A with my radish spacing and sowing. Many other gardeners just spread their seeds willy-nilly, and then go back to thin them out later. Or, not at all… In contrast, I like to set them up for success from the start, sowing them in neat little rows with proper spacing. Do whatever works for you!

I like to pre-poke all of the little shallow holes with my fingertip, across the whole space I am planting. Then I pop in a couple seeds per hole (2-3 seeds per hole is plenty) and cover them up as I go. By offsetting the holes slightly in a diagonal pattern, I can fit the rows a little closer together than if they were in a perfect grid. We do the same offset rows with most plants! The typical recommendation is to sow radish seeds 1/4 inch deep.

Four images of sowing radish seeds. One shows a close up of a hand holding small radish seeds, then another of a raised bed with a bunch of tiny holes poked in the top of the soil, about 2-3 inches apart. They're waiting to be filled with radish seeds. The lower two images show the same raised bed a couple weeks later, when the radish sprouts have just emerged, and then several weeks later, when the greens are large and have filled in the whole bed.
Sowing radishes. Look how much they’ll fill in just a few weeks time!

Water

Maintain the soil evenly moist, especially during germination. The radish seeds are sown pretty shallow, so they will not be happy campers if you allow the top inch to dry out before they’ve sprouted. In general, because radishes are a shallower crop, they’ll likely need more frequent water than a deep-rooted plant like tomatoes or peppers. For larger and longer radish types, they’ll especially appreciate deep watering to encourage subsurface root growth. No need to drown them with a daily soak, but a few times per week is pretty ideal – depending on moisture level of your soil.


Potential Pests


Small tender radish sprouts are tempting for birds and other critters. We always have issues with plants that are directly sown, as those just-germinated, tiny seedlings are far more vulnerable to pests than larger and heartier transplants. Therefore, we usually find it necessary to cover our beds until the sprouts have transitioned into bigger, less-tempting greens. You might find the need to do the same, but maybe not!

We utilize wire fencing with a finer bird netting attached to it, laying it down over the beds – but not laying on top of the soil. Avoid smothering the plants. Another option to provide protection for critters like birds or squirrels is using a light floating row cover. For soil-surface pests like pill bugs, a light dusting of food-grade Diatomaceous Earth between the sprouts may help.

An image of wire fencing laying over a garden bed, not allowing any birds or digging pests to access the freshly planted soil.
Protecting the just-sowed radish seeds (and future sprouts) from birds, or digging pests that roam through our garden like opossums, skunks, and raccoons. This would also help with cats. It is difficult to see in the photo, but there is also a layer of finer bird netting attached to the larger fencing structure.


Thinning Radishes


About a week after your radishes first sprout, it it time to select your keepers – and your victims! Once the sprouts begin to show their first set of “true leaves” – the ones that come directly after the two heart-shaped embryonic leaves – they’re usually showing off enough to tell who the strongest competitor is.

No matter how you decided to plant your radishes, they should be thinned down to one radish sprout for every 2-3 inches! Using fine trimming snips, we cut away the smaller and weaker looking sprouts down at the soil line, leaving just one thick and healthy-looking spout per hole.

On the left, a close up image of radish sprouts that need to be thinned. There are four poking up from one hole. On the right, trimmed radish sprouts in a bowl that are being saved to eat.
On the left, sprouts that need to be thinned. On the right, trimmed sprouts we saved to eat!


Thinning radishes is absolutely essential for their development – and your future harvest!

Do not feel bad about thinning. If you leave them un-thinned to compete for space, water, and nutrients, they will struggle and be stunted. Truth. Also don’t feel bad about “wasting ” the spouts, because you don’t have to! Eat the thinned seedlings! Microgreens anyone? They’re delicious on salads, sandwiches, or on top of any meal really. And they’re loaded with nutrients.

Some folks prefer to pull and pluck out the spouts they’re removing. Every gardener is different (which is one of the many beautiful things about gardening!) but we personally avoid thinning that way. It may disturb, shock or even uproot that strong sprout you were hoping to keep! That sort of defeats the purpose…


Harvest Time


Harvest radishes when they have reached around the expected size for that variety. Round radishes are usually pretty obvious, as they can sit almost on top of the soil or at least partially exposed sometimes.

For longer, deeper, daikon type radishes, it can be a bit difficult to tell when the time is right. Find one that you think may be ready, gently explore around the soil line, and brush aside a little soil to expose some of the root. If it looks well-developed under there, gently wiggle back and forth and pull it on up! The longer the radish, the more susceptible they are to snapping off down below, so be gentle. This is your test radish. If it looks as you’d hoped, maybe the others are ready too! If it’s still pretty small, you can test another, but maybe they need a bit more time.

Speaking of time…. Waiting longer to get larger radishes isn’t necessarily ideal. Bigger does not equal better! The longer that radishes are growing in the soil, the tougher, woodier, or pithier they can become. They’ll also be more likely to split. Therefore, if it has been significantly longer than the expected maturity time, I suggest harvesting a few to cut into and try, even if they’re still more petite than you’d expected. It’s much better to have lots of small tender, juicy radishes than many that are too tough to enjoy.

A large handful of harvested radishes, with the garden in the background. The radishes are all smaller round types, a mix of red, pink, and yellowish.
A mix of Pink Beauty, Zlata (white/yellow) and French Breakfast.


Storing Radishes


After harvesting radishes, it is best to remove their greens and thin root tips for storage. The greens will rot most quickly. Remember, those greens are edible! If you don’t want to eat them, at least try to compost them.  

We put our harvested, trimmed, clean radishes in a reusable ziplock bag with a little splash of water and store them in the crisper drawer of the fridge. With this method, they stay fresh and firm for weeks, sometimes months! Another storage option is to keep them covered in lightly damp sand in a cold basement or root cellar, if you’re so lucky to have one!

One last storage option is to ferment them, which is also a way to prepare, preserve, and enjoy them! This is what we do whenever we harvest a large amount at once. Sliced dilly fermented radishes is one of our very favorite fermented foods, and also happens to be one of the easiest ferment recipes to make! Fermented radishes can last up to a year in the refrigerator, though we always eat and enjoy them waaay faster than that! Check out the recipe here.

A close up image of a half-gallon mason jar filled with colorful sliced radishes, including purple, green, and white. There is also dill in the jar. They're being fermented.
Lacto-fermented radishes are da bomb.


Ways to Eat Radishes


I said it before, and I’ll say it again: radishes are NOT just for salads! Don’t get me wrong though. That is certainly one way we do like to eat them! In addition to fermenting them, radishes are also excellent cooked. They can be sliced and sautéed in a little olive oil (also coconut oil or butter) with salt, pepper, and seasoning of your choice – either alone or prepared in the same manner with other seasonal vegetables mixed in. Pretty much every night, we cook up a huge batch of sautéed mixed veggies from the garden in our cast iron wok. Radishes are always a welcome addition to the party!

Radishes are also wonderful added into soups, thinly sliced to top quiche or frittata, finely shredded or chopped to mix in with egg salad. I already mentioned sliced dilly fermented radishes, but they are also often shredded and mixed with other veggies in fermented kimchi and kraut recipes too! Especially daikons. Radishes are also excellent roasted or baked, either left whole or cut into smaller portions. Or how about this personal favorite? Sliced on top of avocado toast! Oh. My. Yum.  

Purple sliced radishes on a garden salad, and red sliced cherry belle radishes on avocado toast sprinkled with salt, pepper, and homegrown lemon powder.
Bravo radishes on a garden salad, and cherry belle radishes on avo toast sprinkled with salt, pepper, and homegrown lemon powder. And now I am officially hungry….


Radish greens can be treated like other hearty garden greens. However, you’ll probably notice they’re a tad on the spiky side. Cooking them totally eliminates that attribute! Therefore, try sauteeing them or adding them into soups. Daikon greens are far less prickly and much more tender. I know many people who love juicing daikon greens as well.


And that’s all she wrote.
About radishes. For now…


Check out the video we made a couple months back, demonstrating most of what we discussed today! Note that it is a somewhat odd example though, since we re-sowed a new batch of radishes in the middle of winter. It is slowest time to start things, so radishes started in spring, summer, or fall will mature much faster than this!



Check out our YouTube channel for more videos by clicking here!



To sum it all up: Radishes are quick, easy, delicious, versatile, and fun! The extensive amount of varieties out there keeps things interesting, with seemingly endless options to grow each year! They’re a central crop in our garden, and honestly one of my favorites. What do you think? Are you ready to make them one of yours too?

I hope you enjoyed this post! Please comment with any questions, and spread the love by sharing this article.

Deannacats signature, with "keep on growing"



16 Comments

  • Cathrnb

    Hi Deanna! Do you use a soaker hose in your radish beds? I just bought the drinking water grade hoses you recommend and was wondering if I could just direct seed around them? I was thinking I could hand water with a gentle shower spray until they germinate and get their true leaves, then switch to soaker hose-only watering. Would love to hear what you think of that idea. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge!

    • DeannaCat

      Hey there! We don’t, mostly because we usually grow radishes during our “rainy season” and don’t need to water as much anyways. Also because we have pretty tight rows (and many of them!) of radishes – too many to run a length of soaker hose up and down between each one. I think your plan sounds reasonable, as long as the hoses are close enough to each row (or positioned in between two) and is turned long enough to saturate the soil in the area around it. But yes, certainly water with other means at first to get everyone to sprout first!

      • Cathrnb

        Thanks so much for your response, I appreciate it. Your explanation totally makes sense and I think I’ll hold off on laying down the hose until the radishes are done and my summer veggies go in! Happy gardening!

  • Jenny

    Hi Deanna! I’m attempting to grow radishes for the first time and the greens are huge and some are even starting to flower, but the radishes themselves are tiny and sad. You mention that too much nitrogen in the soil can cause this, but we’re pretty careful about that. Are there any other reasons you know of that this might happen? Thanks so much!

    • DeannaCat

      Hey there! If it is hot where you are right now, they’re probably bolting because of that. Midsummer isn’t the best time to grow radishes, as they prefer cooler conditions. Most folks are successful sowing them in early spring, and again in fall. We are fortunate and have really cool summers, so we can grow them pretty much year round here. Also, look for heat-tolerant or slower bolting types if that seems to be your issue. The other thing could be the opposite – not enough sun. If they’re shaded they’ll stretch and bolt quicker too. I hope that helps! Let me know how the next round goes. Unfortunately, if they’re flowering/bolting, they aren’t going to develop bulbs at this point. They’ll only get tougher.

      • Jenny

        Thank you so much Deanna, that’s so helpful! I really appreciate you taking the time to share all of this info and for answering our questions! More people are successfully growing their own food thanks to you 🙂

  • Amanda

    This post convinced me to try planting radishes for the first time!! I did it and I LOVE THEM. RADISHES IN EVERY BLANK SPOT!

    • DeannaCat

      Haha! I love it! Aren’t the fabulous, quick fillers? I’m glad you get into them. Buying radish seeds is addicting too – sooooo many to try!

  • Kelly

    Loved and used these tips this spring, you convinced me to thin a second time and I had radish microgreens on my salad that day. Win, win. Thank you, Deanna!

  • chelsey

    Hi Deanna!
    I have just about given on up on my radishes and would like to know what you think. I live in southern Louisiana and its extremely hot already, average temperature is around 95 each day and climbing.
    Each time my seedlings come up, they only make it about an inch high and then they just fall over and die. Not quite sure whats happening, is it just too dang hot right now for success?
    My spring batch had great big green leaves and looked great but no radishes ever formed, I learned from your blog I should have thinned them, whoops lol.
    Loveeee all your content so helpful for a first time gardener like myself 🙂

    • DeannaCat

      Hey girl! Sorry for the delay! I just found a bunch of comments stuck in the spam box… Oops! Yeah that is way too hot for radishes. They like cooler temperatures. I would start them in March or April, just around your last frost, and then again in the fall once things cool down below 80 during the day. I hope that helps!

  • Elizabeth

    Thanks for such an informative post, as always. I just thinned my first round of radishes! Looking forward to eating the sprouts on veggie burgers tonight, and the radishes themselves in just a few weeks.

    • DeannaCat

      Awesome! Good work! Did you happen to see that video I shared on Instagram recently on the difference between thinned and un-thinned radishes? The results were night and day!

  • Kim Hodges

    Thanks for this info! I love radishes but have not had much success at great crops, looking forward to trying again with some of your tips.

    • Lilia Beltran

      This blog post right here helped my sad, tiny radishes grow big and plump! I adjusted the nitrogen in my soil and thinned very early on–made such a difference! Thinking of growing way more next time to ferment. Thanks for the helpful tips, garden Yoda!

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