Crisp, toothsome, tender radishes, for eating whole or sliced in salad, are easy to raise when it is realized that the secret of their production lies in quick growth, in soil that is not lumpy or hard, which affords decent living for the roots and the moisture that they cannot do without.
Varieties are plentiful. Long-rooted kinds (best for early crops outdoors and in a frame) include Earliest Frame, Long Rose, Long White, Long Scarlet, Icicle, Wood’s Scarlet Frame.
Oval or olive-shaped: Early Rose, Scarlet Globe, French Breakfast, Forcing Crimson, White Olive, Scarlet Olive.
Round or turnip-shaped: Earliest of All, Red Forcing, Red White-tipped, Scarlet Turnip-shaped, White Turnip-shaped.
For winter use: Black Spanish, Chinese Rose. The former makes a turnip-sized root, the skin is black, the flesh white. Chinese Rose is a long oval in shape, 4 in. to 5 in. in length and up to 2 in. across at the widest part; the skin is rose-coloured, the flesh white. These winter radishes sometimes grow even longer.
An ounce of radish seed is sufficient to sow a row of 100 ft representing about 1,000 plants. Seedlings appear in about six days.
Ready for Use.
The ordinary varieties, for spring and summer use, are available in from four to six weeks from the time of sowing outdoors. Sown in early spring in a hotbed frame, about two weeks; in a cold frame, about four weeks. Sown in heat during winter, about eight weeks. Black Spanish and Chinese Rose, grown outdoors, are specially useful for storing for use from November to March.
The radish being a speedy crop, grown in only small quantities at a time, no special place has to be assigned it. Short rows can be scattered about wherever most convenient, followed always by the watering can. Any piece of ground well dug and enriched, well broken on the surface, for any crop of longer stand- ing, offers the right sort of living.
If the ground is clay-like, chalky, stony or dusty, the easiest way of ensuring the essential quick growth is to take out 3-in. deep drills, line these with ii in. of sifted leaf-mould pressed down, cover with in. of sifted soil, sow seed on top, cover with A in. of fine soil, and use the spare -A- in. for watering in dry weather.
When and How to Sow.
Chief outdoor sowings are made from March to September, a short row every three weeks or so; this ensures a steady supply without any wasteful glut.
Earliest outdoor sowing, February, needs the warmth and shelter of a piece of ground well drained and facing south – a border in the home garden backed by a south-facing fence or wall being ideal. The sown row should be covered with pieces of glass and paper or sacking until seedlings show, then protected every frosty night with similar material or sprigs of evergreen laid down to protect the tops.
Seed should be dropped one by one at 1 in. intervals, rows to be 4 in. apart, and covered I in. deep. Dry ground, for spring and summer sowings, should be watered first. -If deep drills are adopted these should be filled with water an hour or two previous to sowing.
The large varieties for winter use are sown outdoors from June to August, in drills 6 in. apart.
Protection for Seed. Pieces of glass placed flat over the drills serve not only to hasten germina- tion and protect against bad weather but to foil hungry birds. Or sheets of paper (a stone at each corner to hold them down) can be used to keep feathered raiders at bay. Birds are not so interested in radishes in the well-up stage; it is the seed they go after most.
Radish in a Frame.
A hotbed frame in which early carrots or lettuce, etc.., are being grown will provide space also for a ‘stolen’ crop of radish sown any time from December to February. Good soil in a cold frame in a sunny position will give an early crop if seed is sown in February.
Varieties: Forcing French Breakfast, Wood’s Scarlet Frame, Earliest Frame, Forcing White Olive are among those specially suitable for this nurpose.
Seedlings must be thinned out, by hand, before any crowding takes place, to 3 in. apart, the large winter varieties to 6 in. apart. The soil should be moist when this is done, to lessen disturbance to those that remain.Watering.
Applications of water in dry weather have to be generous, so that the ground is soaked.
Without constant attention to this the radish crop cannot be really successful.
Pulling the Roots.
Radishes are at their best when pulled young. They are then crisp, tender and not fiery. They become tough or woolly with age, though sometimes that can be accounted for by dry soil. Allowing them to become crowded before thinning out results in hollow roots, or else in abundance of leaf and not much else.
Storing for Winter.
The Large Black Spanish and China Rose can be used straight from the ground; but they are of greatest use when stored. They can be lifted in November and packed away in a heap of sifted fire ashes, or sand, in a shed or cellar, to be drawn on as wanted. Under this treatment they will keep in excellent condition until March.
Preparing for Table.
Remove the leaves, wash the roots, and use whole, or slice and add to a mixed salad. The big winter varieties need to be thinly sliced. Radish is classed as an appetite encourager and aid to digestion, when eaten young.