Radishes are quick growing annual or biennial plants native to Asia, but can now be found worldwide. French radishes are grown for their swollen long or globular tap roots, up to 10 cm long and 2 cm in diameter. The skin colour of the root is white or red, the flesh is white. The up to 20 cm long green leaves are arranged in a rosette on the centre of the root. The leaves show a big terminal lobe and several smaller lobes nearer to the root. If the radish goes to flower it shows the typical cross-shaped flower of the cabbage family with four petals. The French radish is a Summer variety of radish.
How to grow:
Sow 0.5 to 1 cm deep directly into well drained soil in spots 5 cm apart. Choose a sunny spot for Autumn and Winter and light-shade for Spring and Summer. Plants appear within a few days. Mulch between the plants. Plants need to be watered consistently and don’t need much fertilising.
Harvest in about 5-7 weeks.
Growing in the neighbourhood:
Likes to grow with pea, cucumber, nasturtium and lettuce.
Pests and other problems and how we deal with them:
Caterpillars of butterflies, especially the white cabbage butterfly are pests on French radishes. We keep them out by netting the bed with a 5-10 mm net as long as the plants are small. A bit of leaf loss on mature plants is tolerable, if caterpillars take away too much leaf material we spray the plants with a bacterial solution that controls them.
All members of the cabbage family can be affected by a single-celled organism deforming the roots and making it hard for the plants to take up water. The problem is called club root and requires serious soil treatment. We try to avoid this by strictly rotating crops.
Radishes cross pollinate with other plants of the cabbage family. In order to collect useful seeds the mother-plant would need to be kept isolated.
How to harvest and use:
The whole plant is harvested. The bulb of the radish is kept to be eaten, the leaves are taken to the compost.
Every part of the French radish can be eaten. The radish is usually eaten raw on it’s own, sliced or grated, as part of a salad. The raw flesh has a crisp texture and a mild peppery flavour.