The Radish (Raphanus sativus) is an edible root vegetable of the Brassicaceae family that was domesticated in Europe,in pre-Roman times. They are grown and consumed throughout the world. Radishes have numerous varieties, varying in size, color and duration of required cultivation time. There are some radishes that are grown for their seeds; oilseed radishes are grown, as the name implies, for oil production. Radish can sprout from seed to small plant in as little as 3 days.
Radishes grow best in full sunand light, sandy loams with pH 6.5–7.0.They are in season from April to June and from October to January in most parts of North America; in Europe and Japan they are available year-round due to the plurality of varieties grown.
Summer radishes mature rapidly, with many varieties germinating in 3–7 days, and reaching maturity in three to four weeks. Harvesting periods can be extended through repeated plantings, spaced a week or two apart.
As with other root crops, tilling the soil helps the roots grow.However, radishes are used in no-till farming to help reverse compaction.
Most soil types will work, though sandy loams are particularly good for winter and spring crops, while soils that form a hard crust can impair growth. The depth at which seeds are planted affects the size of the root, from 1 cm (0.4 in) deep recommended for small radishes to 4 cm (1.6 in) for large radishes.
Radishes are a common garden crop in the U.S., and the fast harvest cycle makes them a popular choice for children’s gardens.
Broadly speaking, radishes can be categorized into four main types (summer, fall, winter, and spring) and a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes, such as red, pink, white, gray-black or yellow radishes, with round or elongated roots that can grow longer than a parsnip.
Spring or summer radishes
European radishes (Raphanus Sativus)
Sometimes referred to as European radishes or spring radishes if they’re planted in cooler weather, summer radishes are generally small and have a relatively short 3–4 week cultivation time.
The April Cross is a giant white radish hybrid that bolts very slowly.
Bunny Tail is an heirloom variety from Italy, where it is known as ‘Rosso Tondo A Piccola Punta Bianca’. It is slightly oblong, mostly red, with a white tip.
Cherry Belle is a bright red-skinned round variety with a white interior. It is familiar in North American supermarkets.
Champion is round and red-skinned like the Cherry Belle, but with slightly larger roots, up to about 5 cm (2 in), and a milder flavor.
Red King has a mild flavor, with good resistance to club root, a problem that can arise from poor drainage.
Sicily Giant is a large heirloom variety from Sicily. It can reach up to two inches in diameter.
Snow Belle is an all-white variety of radish, similar in shape to the Cherry Belle.
White Icicle or just Icicle is a white carrot-shaped variety, around 10–12 cm (4–5 in) long, dating back to the 16th century. It slices easily, and has better than average resistance to pithiness.
French Breakfast is an elongated red-skinned radish with a white splash at the root end. It is typically slightly milder than other summer varieties, but is among the quickest to turn pithy.
Plum Purple a purple-fuchsia radish that tends to stay crisp longer than average.
Gala and Roodbol are two varieties popular in the Netherlands in a breakfast dish, thinly sliced on buttered bread.
Easter Egg is not an actual variety, but a mix of varieties with different skin colors, typically including white, pink, red, and purple radishes. Sold in markets or seed packets under the name, the seed mixes can extend harvesting duration from a single planting, as different varieties may mature at different times.
Black Spanish or Black Spanish Round occur in both round and elongated forms, and are sometimes simply called the black radish or known by the French name Gros Noir d’Hiver. It dates in Europe to 1548, and was a common garden variety in England and France during the early 19th century. It has a rough black skin with hot-flavored white flesh, is round or irregularly pear shaped, and grows to around 10 cm (4 in) in diameter.
Daikon refers to a wide variety of winter radishes from Asia. While the Japanese name daikon has been adopted in English, it is also sometimes called the Japanese radish, Chinese radish, Oriental radish or mooli (in India and South Asia). Daikon commonly have elongated white roots, although many varieties of daikon exist. One well known variety is April Cross, with smooth white roots. The New York Times describes Masato Red and Masato Green varieties as extremely long, well suited for fall planting and winter storage. The Sakurajima daikon is a hot-flavored variety which is typically grown to around 10 kg (22 lb), but which can grow to 30 kg (66 lb) when left in the ground.
Seed pod varieties
The seeds of radishes grow in siliques (widely referred to as “pods”), following flowering that happens when left to grow past their normal harvesting period. The seeds are edible, and are sometimes used as a crunchy, spicy addition to salads. Some varieties are grown specifically for their seeds or seed pods, rather than their roots. The Rat-tailed radish, an old European variety thought to have come from East Asia centuries ago, has long, thin, curly pods which can exceed 20 cm (8 in) in length. In the 17th century, the pods were often pickled and served with meat. The München Bier variety supplies spicy seeds that are sometimes served raw as an accompaniment to beer in Germany.