Radishes have a very long history having been known in Ancient Egypt, though these were probably the large black rooted types.
Radishes come in a surprising variety of shapes and colours. Apart from the usual small round and oblong ones, there are large tapering types. Colours can be red, pink, white and black. There are also some Winter types.
Seed should be sown from March onwards in fertile, moist ground and best sown in short rows in succession for a longer season. Sow the seed 1 cm deep and about 5 cm apart, and keep moist at all times to prevent the plants running to seed. Best eaten young. Summer Radishes should be ready to harvest in about 6 weeks. In July and August, Radishes are best sown where there is some shelter from the heat of the sun.
Winter radishes should be sown in July or August, 1 cm deep and 15 cm apart in moist soil to prevent them becoming stringy. They should be ready to pull from October onwards.
Pests and diseases. As Radishes are related to the brassicas, they can suffer from the same pests and diseases. However, as they are growing for such a short period of time, most of those diseases are not a problem. Take precautions against slugs and snails, as they are partial to radishes. Flea beetles can make holes in the leaves, but just ignore this damage.
Storage. Radishes are best used fresh, but will store for a few days in a fridge crispator.
Long term (1 to 2 Months) Winter storage is possible storing upright in a box of damp peat or sand. Cut leaves off about 5 cm from the root, leaving tops exposed to reduce the chance of rot. Keep cool but frost free.
Suggested varieties of Summer Radishes.
French Breakfast. A quick growing crisp and mild Radish.
Mixed Radish Seed. This produces crisp and mild Radishes which mature over a longer period.
Suggested varieties of Winter Radish.
China Rose. Red skinned roots with white flesh. Best picked under 12 cm long for tenderness. The one in the photo had a tough skin!
Mooli types. Long white mild radishes, best picked under 30 cm long. Not frost hardy and will require some frost protection.
Black Spanish round and long types. Quite pungent.
Cooking of Winter radishes by stir-frying, steamed, roasted or in stews, will make them become tender and a lot less pungent.