A Novice Approach to Growing, Cooking and Understanding These Hot Little Roots
By Theresa Farrage
If you’re a novice gardener who often relies on grocery stores, farmers markets and community co-ops to get your weekly vegetable and fruit fix, why not start your own garden in 2013? It’s not only economical—it’s also relaxing and enjoyable to become one with Mother Nature. If you aren’t sure where to begin, let this article be your guide for growing one of the easiest vegetables out there: radishes.
HOW TO GROW
According to Barbara Stuckey, associate professor and program chair for Iowa Western Community College’s Turf & Landscape Management Program, there are a few things you should know and implement before you begin unearthing your radish garden. They include:
• Choose a sunny location—one that receives at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight in the summer.
• Be aware of deciduous tress that let light in during the winter, but will grow leaves to shade the area in the summer.
• Choose a visual and convenient location.
• Determine the appropriate size for your radish garden. • To have room for many types of vegetables, a 10 x 12-foot area is a great garden “sampler” size.
• To have room for many types of vegetables, a 10 x 12-foot area is a great garden “sampler” size.
• If you’d like a smaller garden, reduce the size of your plot or use containers.
• Design in 3-foot-wide planting strips with 18-inch-wide paths. If using raised beds, have 2-foot-wide paths.
• Plot your garden ideas in pencil on graph paper. Each square can represent one square foot.
Barbara, whose love of gardening started with her grandma giving her a spot in her garden bed when she was just three or four years old, said that radishes aren’t fussy about soil type as long as you loosen it up when planting the seeds. She recommended watering more often if you have sandy soil and it doesn’t rain.
When choosing a seed, the most popular radishes are: Cherry Belle, French Breakfast, White Icicle and Purple Plum. The growing process is the same for all of these varieties.
According to Barbara, you first need to loosen the soil, and then create a furrow (shallow ditch) the length of your garden area. She recommended planting the seeds in a furrow a half-an-inch deep about one inch apart. You should then cover the furrow with oneand- a-half inches of loose soil and gently pat it flat.
Barbara suggested planting your radishes in mid-April. To stagger your harvest, plant seeds every few days until mid-May. Most radishes are ready for harvest 20 to 25 days after planting.
You can also plant radishes the first week of August for a fall harvest. According to Barbara, unless you like your radishes hot, pungent and puffy, avoid planting them during the hot growing season (June/July).
If you’d like to learn more about getting started on growing your food, check out Iowa Western Community College’s “Grow It at Home” class, during which each participant will learn about plants that are easy to grow at home, and will save you money on groceries. For more information, visit IWCC.edu.
HOW TO EAT
The most common ways to enjoy radishes are raw and fresh for a snack or salad topping. Expand your horizons by experimenting with these unusual and delicious recipes that our recipe testers were surprised by how much they loved.
TIPS FOR MAINTAINING YOUR RADISH GARDEN
• Water every two to three days if there’s no rain.
• After your seeds germinate, thin the plants so there is one inch between them.
• Pull the weeds to give your radishes room to grow.
• Insect issues shouldn’t be a problem since the weather is cool when planting.
MOST COMMON RADISH VARIETIES
Cherry Belle: Round, red edible root just below the soil’s surface
White Icicle: Oblong white edible root
French Breakfast: Mixed white and pink oblong edible root
Purple Plum: Bright purple skin with sweet, crisp white flesh
According to Amanda Jochum, RD, LMNT, a registered Hy-Vee dietitian and trained wellness coach, radishes aren’t especially nutrient-dense. However, radishes can be a good low-calorie filler, and may have a diuretic effect for some people because they contain potassium. Radishes also are a good source of vitamin C and contain anthocyanidins, which is an antioxidant that may promote vessel health.