Radish

Raphanus sativus

Radishes are pretty much the fastest and easiest to grow of all the vegetable crops.  They are a cool season vegetable, and can be sown as soon as the ground can be worked in the spring.  They can also be sown in late summer for a fall crop.  All they require is a loose soil amended with organic matter for optimal root growth.  Otherwise, they are practically indestructible plants that mature to harvestable size very quickly.  Successive sowings every two weeks or so will supply a continuous harvest.

Radish seed can be mixed with seeds from the slower-growing crops, such as carrots, to mark the row.  As you harvest the maturing radishes, you will also be thinning the carrot crop automatically.  They are also a good vegetable crop to use to introduce children to vegetable gardening, and are a favorite for vegetable gardening in containers.  Harvest spring radishes when they are no larger than about the size of a marble or they will become pithy and hot.

Winter radishes, such as the Daikon types, (very long root), should be sown in the fall.  They take longer to mature (50-75 days) and store longer than the spring varieties.  Sow them early enough in the fall so that they can be harvested and stored before the first hard freeze.  All radishes appreciate generous watering and a mulch to keep weeds at bay.  A bit of potassium and phosphorus will also benefit these plants.

Health Benefits:  Radishes are moderately high in Vitamin C and contain properties that appear to be beneficial for symptoms of colds, flu, fever, cough, respiratory problems, and digestive disorders.  For digestive problems, put a handful of radish leaves in boiling water, cover, and let sit for about 20 minutes.  Strain, add honey to taste and drink as a tea.  For colds, flu, and the associated symptoms, grate one radish and mix with honey to taste.  Let this mixture stand for 10 hours in a dark place. Take 2 teaspoons three times a day as a cough syrup.