Grow Radishes in Containers
Twenty three days from start to finish! Yes, that's the exact amount of time it takes radishes to grow from a tiny seed into a pick-able mature root. Now, I don't really know what you consider to be fast, but from a gardening standpoint, twenty three days is extremely quick! Off the top of my head, I can't think of a vegetable crop that grows faster. So, what do you do with such a fast growing crop? Put them to good use, and grow radishes in containers. Every urban container garden should be growing these little soil dwelling gems. If you haven't caught up with the program yet, it's quite alright, because the basics to planting, growing and harvesting radishes in containers will be covered in this article.
Plant Identification - Radishes
Radishes are a small root crop belonging to the Brassicaceae family. These cousins of other cole crops such as broccoli and cauliflower, have been cultivated for centuries. Growing in many different shapes, colors, and sizes, radishes are a popular crop around the globe.
- Binomial Name - Raphanus sativus
- Family - Brassicaceae
- Spring Varieties - Growing in the cooler weather of spring and autumn, these are the radishes that we associate with most often. Often round or oblong, these radish varieties stay relatively small and have a shorter storage life. Spring varieties are best eaten fresh.
- Winter Varieties - Less known in the public's view, winter varieties such as Daikon and Spanish black are great storage radishes. These radishes generally grow much larger (6-10+ inches long), and are great for storage in cellars. Winter radishes are normally planted in late summer for an autumn harvest.
Noteworthy Heirloom Radish Varieties
Days to Maturity
Did you Know?
A dozen radishes can be comfortably grown in a standard 12" flower pot. Pretty cool, huh?
- Containers - Since radishes are fairly small, they can be adapted to grow in a variety of sized containers. I would recommend that your container be at least six inches deep though. Having such a depth will ensure proper formation of the roots. Containers can be round or rectangle shaped.
- Potting Soil - Radishes really aren't too picky when it comes to potting soil either, but they will do best in soil that drains well and is high in organic matter. A well composted organic potting soil will do great.
- Sunlight - Growing radishes need a good amount of sunlight to sustain fast growth and root production. Prepare to provide your radishes with at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily.
- Temperature - Radishes aren't too fond of the hot summer's sun. For this reason, grow radishes during the cooler temperatures of spring and autumn. They'll be much more productive. For continual harvests during spring and autumn, dedicate three containers to growing radishes, planting each with a week spaced between them. Replant as you harvest weekly.
- Adequate Water - If the potting soil used to grow radishes dries out too much, or too often, it can cause radish roots to become fibrous. On the other hand, over watered and soggy soils can promote root rot. To avoid these conditions, water the potting soil frequently, but always ensure that the soil and container are able to freely drain away excess water.
Planting & Growing Radishes
Whereas many garden vegetables need to be started indoors and then transplanted outside, radishes can easily be sown directly into their final container outdoors. There's absolutely no need or sense in transplanting radish seeds.
- Two weeks before your average last frost, fill your containers with potting soil and position them in a sunny area.
- Plant radish seeds 1/2 inch deep and spaced one inch apart. Fill the entire area of your container with this planting technique. Take caution to leave a least an inch between the rim of your planter and the first set of radishes.
- Keep the seeds moist and they should germinate within 5-10 days.
- Once most of the seeds have sprouted, thin the seedlings out, so that there is one plant spaced every two inches from each other.
- Continue to water, maintaining a soil that is thoroughly moist, but not over watered. Watering every other day should be just fine for your radishes.
In as little as twenty three days, you'll have a crop of radishes ready for the picking. Of course not every radish variety will be ready in such a short time. So, if you're after the fast maturing varieties, try growing Cherry Belle or French Breakfast radishes.
- Check to see if the radishes are at a good pick-able size. You can uncover the tops of each plant to determine their size. If the radish is slightly thicker than your thumb, it's ready to be picked.
- Pull radishes from the ground. The leaves break easily, so pull the radish from the top of the root.
- Immediately separate the leaves from the root. If you don't, the leaves will cause the root to lose water and shrivel.
- Wash and store in the refrigerator for up to a couple weeks. The radish leaves may be consumed fresh as part of a mixed green salad.
Bonuses of Radishes in a Garden
Besides serving as a super-fast growing crop, radishes can also add some functionality to your garden. Here's how to utilize this unique crop.
Have you harvested a successful radish crop?
- Protection Against Flea Beetles - If you've had an issue with flea beetles attacking your precious seedlings and young crops, planting radishes is a good idea. As young plants, slower growing crops are susceptible to flea beetle damage. To reduce, and even completely eliminate the risk, plant radishes nearby. The rapidly growing foliage of radishes will attract the majority of flea beetles, offering protection for your valued crops. Although the radish foliage will be full of tiny holes, they will still produce roots normally.
- Squash & Cucumber Benefits - Radishes will naturally repel cucumber beetles and squash borers. As these pests can be very damaging to young plants, why not just plant some radishes nearby and keep them at bay!
- Natural Garden Marker - Although it doesn't apply to container gardens, radishes can be used as a natural way to mark your garden beds. Create rows or lines of radishes to separate crop sections. Utilizing radishes as garden markers is a great way to organize your garden, and also get a harvestable crop.
As it turns out, radishes are a pretty useful and delightful crop to have planted in a container garden! Their quick growth will please your early harvesting needs, and their tasty roots will surely satisfy your craving for homegrown produce. Thank you for reading this guide on how to grow radishes in containers, and may your garden be extra productive this year! Please leave me any questions, comments or suggestions that you might have.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.