Perfect for salads, as a gorgeous garnish and for tasty use of its seeds and leaves, radishes are also good for your garden. Radish plants are well known for their ability to aerate the soil. They grow very quickly and can help to organize your vegetable patch while providing a bountiful crop. There are spring, summer and winter varieties of the radish. Each has a slightly different growing habit and should of course be sown at different times. Different colors are also available like pink, red and white. An ideal companion plant for lettuce and carrots, growing radishes may be the best thing you do for your vegetable patch. Best Soil for Radishes Plant your radishes in well drained soil with a good mix of organic matter, the same soil that most other vegetables love. The difference is that radishes don’t like extreme heat, so if you have shady corner it would make a great spot for a radish patch. Make sure to add organic compost a few weeks before the radishes go in, just to be sure it has a chance to settle into the soil. When to Plant Radishes For the first crop of the season, sow spring radish seeds about two weeks before the last frost date in your region. They will give you an early crop and help to get your veggie patch moving. Winter radishes, on the other hand, should be planted between the middle and the end of summer. They will help to close down your vegetable garden and provide fresh produce during the fall and early winter. For a more manageable harvest, sow radishes on a staggered schedule planting short rows approximately 10 days apart. This will provide a better crop over the entire season. How to Plant Radishes Sow radish seeds directly out into the garden at a depth of about ½” and spaced about 1 to 1 1/2” apart. Cover the short row of seeds lightly with organics and gently water down. For a better organized garden, plant rows of radishes as a marker for your other vegetable seeds. Plant carrots and lettuce in rows, then sow radish seeds alongside to mark exactly where the slower vegetables are planted. By the time they sprout and need attention, you can completely harvest the radishes out of the area and make way for the others. Proper Care of Radishes The soil that holds your radishes will need to stay moist. If you can see it drying out, it’s likely past time to get it watered. Some summer varieties need daily watering to avoid developing a bitter taste. As the seeds sprout, you’ll need to thin them out to one plant every 2 to 3 inches. This also helps to keep your radishes from becoming less flavorful and developing at a slower rate. Mulch is difficult with radishes, but can be done lightly to cut down on weeds. Raised beds also work well to reduce weeding. When to Harvest Radishes It’s important to watch your radishes closely around harvest time. Check the specific seed package, but most radishes are mature and ready for harvest from 20 to 60 days after planting. Even a few days beyond that perfect time will result in a radish flavor that doesn’t live up to its potential. Much like carrots, the diameter of the radish root is what will tell you for sure that it’s ready. Radishes should be harvested when the root reaches just ¾” to 1 ½” in diameter. How to Harvest Radishes You should be able to simply pull the radish out from your soil. If the area is dry and the root is being stubborn, water gently and leave for a 12 to 24 hour period. Come back and gently pull. The watered soil should be a little more generous now. Common Radish Pests and Diseases Much like the carrots and lettuce planted around them, radishes are favored snacks for rabbits and other small creatures. A wire fence around the patch should deter them and a row of marigolds will sometimes turn them away. Marigolds are also an excellent way to repel bugs and beetles that may attack your radishes. Raised bed plantings cut down on the pest damage significantly. Gardening Tips and Tricks for Growing Radishes Radishes are quick growing, but you need to be even quicker to get the optimum harvest. For full flavored, tender radishes that will compliment your menu perfectly harvest them at the right time. Watch closely and remove everything that you can. Radishes keep well in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Be sure to stagger seed sowing and enjoy this easy vegetable all season long. Radishes are great for your table and even better for the garden. Use them to mark other plantings and be amazed at the way they will naturally loosen and aerate your soil. Any way you look at it, radishes are a choice crop to plant.