What’s In The Garden Now – Radishes

Wakulla Master Gardener Dan Dobbins hold some of this year’s radish crop grown in the UF/IFAS Wakulla demonstration garden. Master Gardeners use the garden to learn more about crops and provide an example for area residents.

Wakulla Master Gardener Dan Dobbins hold some of this year’s radish crop grown in the UF/IFAS Wakulla demonstration garden. Master Gardeners use the garden to learn more about crops and provide an example for area residents.

By Les Harrison, UF/IFAS Wakulla County Extension Director and Shelley Swenson, UF/IFAS Wakulla County Family and Consumer Sciences Agent

As the old saying goes, April showers bring May flowers, but there is much more to April. While many Wakulla County residents are tending their spring gardens, some are still harvesting the crops planted earlier.

Collards, turnips and onions are all ready to come out of the garden now. These full season crops were planted last fall and have handled the past winter with little to no effort.

One garden favorite was planted in late winter and is now producing a popular, healthy vegetable option for a variety of taste. Radishes are a short season crop with a selection of cultivars to please almost every taste.

Raphanus sativus, the scientific name for radishes, is a member of the Brassicaceae plant family. This grouping of annual plants includes other commonly consumed vegetables including cabbage and mustard.

This diminutive root producing vegetable has a legacy reaching into the period before people began writing about food. It is believed radishes were first used as a menu option in southeast Asia because wild radishes still grow there today. China, India and some central Asian locales were where the radish made its next appearance 2,300 years ago. Each region refined the root to meet its taste preferences and developed specific recipe uses.

The handy and easy to store vegetable made its way to Greece and Rome about 1,900 years ago, likely through trade and conquest.Several varieties were noted by contemporary authors who commented on the taste, size and color of the vegetable. Radishes eventually made their way to North America with the waves of immigrants. It remains a popular component for salads and other dishes.

This vegetable is popular with students and beginning gardeners because of its short growing season.  Positive results can be pulled from the garden in 45 to 60 days.

The inexpensive seed are easy to sow by scattering in the plant bed, and then thinly covering with soil. These plants require full sun, and grow best in soils with a pH of 6.5 to 7.0. The seed germinate in three to four days when they are kept moist, but not excessively wet. The crop grown in the demonstration garden at the UF/IFAS Wakulla Extension office were grown in mushroom compost, but light sandy soils will work too.

Radishes are categorized into four main types, summer, fall, winter, and spring. An assortment of shapes, lengths, colors, and sizes are associated with this vegetable. The radish is a good source of vitamin C, but few calories and no fat.

After harvest, separate the greens from the bulbs. Both the bulb and the radish greens to can be used in salads.The greens are used sparingly as they do have the radish flavor and may overshadow the flavor of other salad greens. After cleaning, radishes store efficiently in plastic bags or water. For best results, use within week after harvest.

Plant diseases are not normally a problem when growing radishes, but insect can be during certain parts of the year. Both the roots and foliage may come under attack.

To learn more about growing and using onions in Wakulla County, contact your UF/IFAS Wakulla Extension Office at 850-926-3931 or http://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/wakullaco/

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