Timing your harvest is important with spring radishes because of their short maturity dates. Edible podded and winter radishes allow a bit more leeway. Harvesting at the right time improves taste and texture.
Radishes need good growing conditions for best eating quality. Plant in full sun or at least given them six hours of sun a day. Light, friable fertile soil – not too high in nitrogen – promotes growth and taste. Keep soil moist; dry conditions tend to make radishes hot. Whether grown in the garden, raised beds or containers, radishes should have soil at least three inches deeper than their roots.
Type of Radish and Harvesting
In addition to the classic spring radish – red, purple, white, pink and globe or carrot-shaped – other types of radishes are available. The edible podded or rat tailed radish is grown for its crisp, spicy pods rather than roots. These are also heat tolerant, so they are harvested over the summer. Winter radishes grow longer and larger, and are harvested at a larger size.
Although a radish “gourmet” might disagree, many people find spring radishes very similar. Not so with edible podded and winter radishes.
Cherry Belle, French Breakfast and White Icicle are typical spring radishes that mature at 22 to 27 days.
Rat-tailed Radish is grown in summer and its pods harvesting by cutting from the stalks.
Winter radishes (60 days) include Black Spanish, China Rose and Chinese White.
Spring Radish Size at Harvest
Early spring radishes can literally go from ready to overripe in just a few days. With an average maturity date of three or four weeks, the window is narrow. Check several days before the published maturity date and look for radishes about one inch in size. Pull the plant, wash and taste; if it’s ready, harvest the others.
Harvesting Edible Podded Radishes
Unlike their smaller cousins, edible podded radishes can grow three or four feet tall. They should be staked for easier harvesting. Pick or cut the pointed, lumpy pods, beginning about 50 days from planting. Keep the plants picked to encourage flowering and more seed pods. You can also simply pull up the whole plant when it is loaded with pods.
Harvesting Winter Radishes
Winter radishes will happily store in the ground most of the winter. These radishes may grow to sizes ranging from a baseball to several pounds. Harvest the first near the expected maturity date, then leave the rest in the ground throughout the winter. You may need to mulch in very cold climates. Don’t try to harvest once they start to grow again in spring.