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Radish is a rooting veggie that is a beginner farmer’s delight. When planted in the right season, it will give forth produce with no fuss whatsoever, and at a pace that will put all your other veggies to shame!
SEASONS: Radish is a seasonal plant. It will grow only in cool weather. Radish is the fastest growing edible root and most varieties will grow to fullness in 3-4 weeks, while even the few, slow varieties will mature in 2-3 months. Sow and grow all through the winter months from November to March.
PROPAGATING: This plant is very easily propagated from seed.
GERMINATING: Radish is best germinated directly in the ground, or in raised beds so that they can be transplanted conveniently. Germination soil should be a mixture of compost and peat moss. Seeds can be shown in shallow, 1/4 inch deep holes or scattered on the surface with a sprinkling of soil above. Place in semi-shade and spray water evenly. Spray your sown seeds daily until seedlings emerge in 3-5 days. Germinate in batches about 1 week apart, so you can harvest all the way from early December to early March of the next year.
PLANTING OUT: Plant out your radish saplings when they are sturdier, at 2 weeks of growth. Choose well-drained, well-composted and manured, acidic soil that is completely free of stones or other root obstructions. Loose soil is preferable for the smaller, rounder varieties, though long varieties will grow even in more compact soil. A raised bed is a good idea to ensure good drainage and adequate vertical space for growing roots. Plant out your saplings at least 3 inches apart and water daily. Radish will grow well on open plots, but containers are preferable (at least 12 inches deep) as they keep the soil moist and are convenient for harvesting.
NURTURING: Your radish plant will require regular, but not heavy watering, as constant moist conditions will make its roots rot. Radish is a delight to grow as it moves to maturity at a breath-taking pace. Ensure that your radish plants have sufficient space between them, as over-crowding will lead to mis-shapen roots. Radish plants may bolt in unseasonal hot weather, leading to bitter radishes and leaves. That is why it is important to plant in winter. At times it develops fungal spots on its leaves which can be dealt with by pruning off affected leaves. It is also susceptible to leaf-curl caused by aphids which is best addressed by finding and eliminating the offending aphids using targeted water/detergent sprays.
HARVESTING: Radish is harvested for its leaves and its roots. Since it grows so quickly, it is best to harvest the entire plant at one go – for both roots and its leaves. Harvest in 3-4 weeks for most varieties, while tender and before the root radishes crack open and turn woody in taste or spongy in texture. If in open plot soil, use a broad shovel to dig out the entire plant. If in a container, gently pull out the entire plant. Chop off extraneous parts and wash roots well. Once you have harvested your plant, replenish the soil and use that space for growing fruiting or leafing veggies next.
Cherry red, and long-white radishes at harvest-ready stage
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