With a tag from the Greek word for "fast appearing," radishes (Raphanus sativus) are aptly named. Like others in the family, Easter egg radishes reach maturity in just 30 days, and they bring a pop of color to salads and other dishes.
Originating in China and then moving to Greece and Egypt, these treats once served as payment to ancient pyramid builders. Residents of Oaxaca, Mexico appreciate radishes enough to give them their own festival, known as la noche de los rabanos.
These yummy white-fleshed root vegetables have skin colors that range from white to pink to crimson to purple, all in the same bunch. The green leaves, which grow from the roots above the ground, are also a delicious addition to your cooking.
Easter egg radishes are round, and, when picked when they reach the size of a large marble -- about 1 inch in diameter -- they are crisp and have a mild flavor. They grow rapidly when they get plenty of moisture, although they don't thrive in hot, dry weather. Radishes are susceptible to flea beetles and cabbage root maggots, but you can control the pests with floating row covers when you plant the seeds.
Radishes are a good source of Vitamin C, potassium, zinc, and dietary fiber, and they contain enzymes that promote good digestive health and have anti-fungal properties. They also have only 20 calories in a 1-cup serving. For a simple, delicious snack, serve them sliced with bread and butter. You can also dip them in melted butter and then let them rest on parchment paper until the butter sets. Grate them into salads or chop them for sandwiches, tacos, and stir-fries, or try one of these recipes.
Sowing The Seed
Radish plants are cool weather crops, so the seeds are best established directly outdoors, 8 to 10 weeks prior to the first frost. Start be clearing your sowing area of all unwanted plant life & weeds. Turn the dirt, or replace it with fresh, new soil. Sow your seeds at a depth of 1/2” under topsoil, in groups of 2 or 3, in a triangle formation.
Because Radish plants enjoy the cooler temperatures of the Autumn season, you should make sure that temperatures stay between 55F and 80F. Plant them in an area that will receive full sunlight for the majority of the day. The soil should be rich, but also well drained. To increase drainage, try adding a bit of light compost to areas containing hard, compact soil. Water daily in the morning, but avoid overwatering as this can cause your Radishes to become waterlogged.
Germination & Growth
Radish seeds will begin to show signs of life within as little as 7 to 14 days after sowing. The plants will grow 5 to 6 inch tops, producing 1 to 2 inch, multicolored roots. The seeds, as explained above can be sown in groups of 2 or 3, while spacing each group roughly 5 inches apart from one another. The rows will be spaced about 8 inches apart. Harvest when young, just as the roots measure 1.5 inches in diameter.