Radishes are one of the most satisfying spring crops a gardener can grow. After planting radish seeds, it take just 3-5 weeks before you can harvest them. Talk about instant gratification! They grow best when seeded in April (through early May), a time of year when home gardeners are anxious to get out into the garden, but when it is still too cool to plant summer crops.
When direct seeding crops like radishes, it's important to be sure they are properly spaced. Make sure you refer to the seed packet for proper seed spacing recommendations - depending on the variety, radish spacing can range from 1-3 inches. Some gardeners go to great pains to drop one seed every inch or so in their garden furrow... but most gardeners will sprinkle the seeds into the garden thickly and go back and thin them once they've germinated. It's important to thin the seedlings before the roots become fleshy, often before the the plants get their second set of leaves. If you don't thin your seedlings and the roots grow too close together, the plants can become stunted and the roots will be small and distorted.
If you'd like to plant radishes without having to thin them, consider making a seed tape. Seed tapes are great because they are inexpensive to make, and it's a fun and easy indoor gardening project that can be done even if your garden is ready for planting yet. If you do this project with kids, it's a great way to include a math lesson with gardening!
To make a seed tape, you'll need the following:
- Craft Glue (you can also use a mixture of flour or cornstarch with water for the adhesive, but i find that the craft glue dispenser bottle makes it easier to dispense "just a dot" of the adhesive)
- Thin Paper Material - toilet paper, paper towels, coffee filters, newspaper, etc. (Since toilet paper is in short supply these days, we used some crepe paper from our craft drawer!)
Before starting, consider your garden site. Do you have 4 ft. wide raised beds? Maybe you'd like to make 4 foot long strips of seed tape so they fit perfectly in your garden bed. Do you practice square foot gardening? Maybe you'd like to consider using a 12 x 12 inch paper towel instead of making a long tape.
When you are ready to make the tape, be sure to refer to the seed packet for the proper seed spacing recommendations. Then label your tape with the seed name, and using a ruler for guidance, mark the proper spacing on the tape. Add a dot of adhesive to each marking, and place a seed on each dot. Allow the adhesive to dry and the seed tape can be stored until you are ready to plant it in the garden. When it's time for planting, just plant the seed tape about a 1/2 inch deep (or the depth that is recommended on your seed packet), and water them in.
Another thing to consider when planting radishes, is to plan for several consecutive plantings (succession planting). Since radishes grow so fast and can pass their peak quality quickly, succession plantings (7-10 days apart) can provide you with firm, good-tasting radishes for several weeks. Resist seeding radishes after May, because when radishes grow in hot weather the texture can be spongy, and the flavor can be intensely hot!
For more information about planting and harvesting radishes and other vegetables - refer to these great publications:
- Planting and harvest times for garden vegetables - pm534_-_plant_and_harvest_times.pdf
- Planting a home vegetable garden - pm819_-_planting_home_garden.pdf
And if you'd like to see how to thin radish seedlings and make a seed tape, check out this video that we made :)