Have you ever thought that you were possibly the worst gardener ever? Maybe that you believe you are the owner of a thumb so black, anything you plant is sure to wither and die? Maybe it’s time to try something easy – like radishes! If you haven’t ever tried to grow food for yourself then the humble radish is about to be your new best friend.
In Australia, radishes are available in different sizes and colours. Radishes have a hot, peppery taste but the intensity depends on the variety.
The most common radishes are the bright red variety. White radish (or daikon), popular in Asian cuisines, can be long and slender, short and stumpy or even almost round. This type of radish is not as hot and peppery as the red variety. Other radishes have pink, purple, white, yellow, green or black skin. The flesh of radishes is usually white but some have a coloured interior.
Radishes grow very quickly and are one of the best ways to get your salad garden started. They are really easy to grow, can be planted any time of year and you’ll be eating them in 4-6 weeks. Don’t throw out the leaf tops unless your compost is begging for bulk because they are actually even more nutritious than the root and quite edible as a leafy green, either in a stir fry or a salad. The seeds are also a spicy addition to salads – Germans even eat them as an accompaniment to beer!
Radishes can be useful as companion plants for many other crops, probably because their pungent odour deters insects such as aphids and ants. They can also function as a sacrificial crop, luring insect pests away from the main crop. Cucumbers and radishes seem to thrive when grown in close to each other, and radishes also grow well with chervil, lettuce, peas, and nasturtiums.
The best way to grow radishes is by planting their seeds. You can buy radish seeds from pretty much anywhere. Even Big W sell them. If you’re really freaking out about your capacity to stuff things up (we’ve all been there!) then you can even get “radish tape” so you don’t have to worry about how far apart the seeds should be, or thinning them once they’re coming up. If you’re brave and didn’t use tape, then thin those bad boys to 5-10cm.
Just sow the seed directly where you want them to grow, add a bit of mulch, then water them in. Don’t drown them, a gentle spray will do the job just fine. Ideally your soil should be fertile, and water lightly every day or two to keep it moist.
Since radishes grow so quickly, we recommend that you impress your friends with the technical gardening talk of “succession planting” – in other words, plant some today, plant some more in 2-3 weeks or so, then 2-3 weeks after that you’ll be harvesting the first batch (there’s another nerdy gardening word!) and you can put some MORE in to replace them! In another 2-3 weeks you’ll be munching down the second batch and the third lot will be well on their way… And so it goes… You’ll never need to pay for a radish again!
There are many ways to eat your radishes – check out the recipe below!