Whether you’re already an avid veggie gardener or are taking your first tentative steps towards growing your own veg, radishes are a must-have for your containers or garden veg beds. Some of the facts about radishes that we’re going to share with you might be things you already knew, but we’re ready to bet there will be at least one or two surprises. Join us as we take a closer look at growing radishes in Australia.
1. Radishes are Easy!
A lot of people are afraid of failure when they first start growing their own plants from seeds. I know the feeling well, even though I’ve been a professional grower for over 20 years. Those dried-up-looking seeds: can they really turn into living, growing plants? Of course, some plants really are challenging to grow from seeds, but radishes are among the easiest germinators of all.
If you are a beginner, set yourself up for some easy wins to help build your confidence. Radishes are top of that list. I also like them as a way to teach children about growing plants. The last thing you want is to disappoint them during their introduction to gardening and growing. Chances are good that radishes won’t do that.
2. Radishes Don’t Need Much Space and They Can Grow in Containers
My granny was a keen gardener all her life. As she began to lose mobility, she started growing her veg in window boxes and pots. You guessed it! Radishes were among her favourites. Although she couldn’t work in the garden any longer, it was easy to keep a shelf of pots at a handy height for her, and her windowbox garden crops gave her a great deal of pleasure.
One of the reasons why radishes are among the edible plants ideal for container gardening is that they don’t need a lot of space. That’s an advantage no matter where you grow them. A couple of rows in the veggie garden are enough for most families. Radishes only need 5 to 10 centimeters between plants. That’s a lot of radishes per surface area, even if all you have is a window box.
3. Radishes Grow Fast
Gardening is often about patience, but Radishes give you rapid results. You can get your first harvestable radishes within as little as three weeks. Of course, they don’t all grow at the same tempo, and a few will pop up later than their brothers and sisters, but by the 70-day mark, the last of your radishes should be ready to come out of the ground.
When you buy radish seeds from Seeds of Plenty, you’ll see that we recommend staggering sowing, and that’s one of the reasons. Extend your harvest and avoid having to waste perfectly good radishes just because they’re all ready during a short timeframe.
4. Radishes Aren’t Just for Salads
While we’re talking about the possible surplus of radishes you might find yourself harvesting, it’s time to raise the fact that they’re not just for salads. Need to find something new to do with radishes?
Cook Them: Try adding them to soups or stews or sautee them with chives or onions. The idea of cooking radishes isn’t new. Radish varieties like “Easter Egg” radishes are a traditional ingredient used in many Asian dishes.
Don’t Waste the Greens: Let’s not forget that radish greens are even more nutritious than the roots, and in case you were wondering, they taste great! That’s handy at harvest time. The greens don’t stay fresh for all that long, and if you are storing any radishes in the fridge, it pays to cut off the greens. They don’t need a lot of cooking to be tender and tasty. You just need to wilt them a little.
Radish Greens Cooking Ideas: Use them in stirfries, or any of your favourite recipes that require a touch of green. One trick is to sautee slices of radish roots and then add the chopped leaves just before they are ready. For those looking to get even more creative, consider making radish green pesto. If your confidence needs boosting before you take the plunge, there is no shortage of recipes online.
Freeze Them: Still too many radishes to eat all at once? You can freeze them, but then you will use them exclusively for cooked dishes. Slice them up, blanch them in hot water for two or three minutes, then pop them into cold water before draining them and freezing.
5. Radishes Come in Many Colours and Shapes
Yes, we all love a neat, round, red radish – but that’s not the be-all-and-end-all of radishes.
Radish Colours: We’ve already mentioned the white radishes (and there are several varieties) but they also come in pink, gold, black, and purple. There are even green-skinned versions.
Radish Shapes: As for roundness – that’s by no means a prerequisite in the radish world. Just look at Black Spanish Long radishes. They such a deep purple as to be near-black on the outside – a gorgeous contrast with the snowy white flesh. That’s unusual enough but look at that elongated form. As one of those all-thumbs people who is prone to cutting-board accidents, I’m in favour of easy slicing and that’s a good slicing shape for neat radish rounds right there.
Mild to Hot Radish Flavours: There’s also a range of flavour nuances among radishes. If some of your family members find the sharp flavour of radishes a little too much, try some of the milder-flavoured varieties. As a side note, cooking also removes some of the sharpness. Like it hot? So do we! French Breakfast radishes might be the perfect choice for you.
A Great All-Rounder
While radishes definitely aren’t all round in shape, they’re low-calorie cuisine all-rounders with great nutritional value. We especially like their easygoing habits, rapid crop time, long growing season, and the fact that you need hardly waste a morsel. Interestingly, the leaves are even more nutritious than the roots – another reason to use the whole plant.
Sustainable food-growing is all about abundance, and it’s not as difficult to achieve as all the horticultural terminology one hears may make you think. Easy crops like radishes are a good place to begin. The results are satisfying. Flavour, freshness, optimum nutrition, and far greater diversity than most people can bring to the table are worth the surprisingly small amount of work you have to put in to get them.
From popular favourites to heirlooms and rarities, Seeds of Plenty has been stocking up on Radish varieties to suit every taste. Browse our store to find the radish varieties that are right for you and look forward to fun and success, both in the garden and the kitchen.