We’re told that anyone can grow radishes. They’re a dawdle. They’re some of the first, if not the first vegetables that children grow. It is so hard to mess up radishes that if yours fail, you may as well consider yourself a nuclear thumb for life. Succeeding at radishes doesn’t tell you anything, failing tells you a whole lot.
I first grew radishes as a child on my grandparents’ dacha. I had a little patch in a hidey corner and would dig around clumsily in the dark grey soil. I didn’t know what I was doing, but the radishes grew anyway. As I was fed radishes from an early age I liked them a lot, but I had to peel them and dip them in salt before eating.
Many years later I would try gardening in the back yard of the first house I lived in after I moved out of my parents’ home. The soil was very poor, and being stingy I did not amend it aside from adding a little pelletised slow release fertiliser. I grew (to use the term very loosely) a few things, but the only plants that produced were sweet potatoes (a few tiny tubers and a modest amount of leaves, enough for a single serve of stir-fry), and radishes. The radishes were small and dry. They tasted vaguely of soap.
Radishes are generous. They grow fast and they don’t want much. They sprout fast and are ready to harvest in under a month if everything goes well. However, even these easy, dunce-resistant vegetables require some care and input. I put these into some spare space in the front garden bed, between nasturtium, marigolds and kale. The soil was already amended, and the other plants got regular watering anyway, so I didn’t need to put in any extra effort. Had I put them into the garden bed before I dug it out – into weedy, acidic soil that didn’t hold moisture at all – I would not have any to harvest.
I planted White Icicle radishes out of season, from a packet of nearly-expired seeds I found in the back of a discount variety store, and they still delivered. I have since planted Watermellon Radish, more White Icicle, and some Easter Egg mix. I look forward to juicy, spicy snacks in three to four weeks.
Planting Info for European Radishes:
Rows 25cm apart
Thin to 5cm apart
Seedlings emerge 3-7 days
Harvest 21-28 days