Join Me in The Great Radish Experiment!

I know it seems like summer is a ways off, but one of the very first things you can plant are radishes (they like cooler temperatures) and I know you’re all itching to buy some seeds and get started, so why not take part in this little experiment with me and plant some radishes right NOW?!

 

I am 100% sick of sitting around with nothing more to do than anxiety organize my cupboards.  Admittedly I do think that’s kind of fun, but it can’t be the only fun one has. So I thought you might like to try out a little experiment with me.

We’re going to grow radishes right here, right now with mounds of snow outside.

I’ve been growing radishes (outside in spring) for years, and giving them away as hostess gifts for summer BBQs, but this year I wanted to grow some even earlier than normal to hand out like little bouquets as soon as it gets nice out.

This might work and it might fail. Either way we’ll have learned something. I’ll have learned that radishes can’t be grown in winter and you’ll have learned not to listen to me.

OR

We’ll all grow radishes in the winter and wonder why we never thought to do it before.

For the purpose of this experiment I’ll be starting the radishes mid-winter indoors.  This post explains everything you need to know about how to start seeds yourself at home.

 

I’m going to use a variety of radishes like I do when I grow Radish Bouquets for housewarming presents. You can get a lot of radish growing tips in that post.

Radishes aren’t just the red round ones you see in grocery stores, my favourite radish isn’t even round it’s cylindrical with a white tip: The French Breakfast Radish.

Above all else don’t just stick to the classic red radish.  Radishes come in a ton of colours and spice levels.  The classic red radish (I grow RAXE, a classic cherry type radish) forms a perfect round ball but some of the others are elongated and bi-coloured like my favourite, the French Breakfast Radish.

I also grow purple, pink, pure white, jet black and watermelon radishes, which makes growing radishes and giving them away way more fun than just handing over a bunch of plain red ones. You can find most of these types of radish seeds are your local seed supply store. 

Since gardening has become so popular you can even find some of the more interesting varieties in grocery stores, hardware stores and nurseries.

Plant several varieties of radish seeds in a single cell block with up to 6 seeds.  Then grow like you would indoors

Normally as soon as they have germinated,  each bunch of 5 or 6 radishes is popped out of their cell and planted outside as an entire bunch.

BUT in this experiment things will go a little differently.

In winter once the seeds have sprouted and we want to plant them outside it will mean tricking the radishes a little bit into thinking it’s further along in the season than it actually is.  There are a few ways to go about this.

  1. By protecting the radishes and warming their environment with a small hoop house or low tunnel covered with plastic.
  2. In an outdoor greenhouse.
  3. In a cold frame.
  4. Or in a pot in a window with a LOT of light.  A south facing is your best bet for success.

I’m going to use my very small outdoor greenhouse that I bought last year. In the spring I used it to get my luffas outside early and in the fall to cure my squash harvest.

As soon as the seedlings have sprouted, but before they’ve had much of a chance to get used to the lavish indoor growing conditions – I’ll put them in pots, and put those pots out in the greenhouse and wait for them to reach maturity.

For optimal greenhousey performance I’ll keep the greenhouse flat up against the wall of my house on the porch to take advantage of radiant heat from my home’s bricks.

I will also set up my seed starting mats (which are like heating pads) in the greenhouse for added warmth.

Then we wait to see what happens.  If things go according to plan each pot will have a bouquet of various coloured radishes growing close together.  

If you plan to try radishes right in the ground in winter you’ll have to either put them in a cold frame (you can get instructions on how to build a cold frame here) or in a low tunnel with plastic over it. A low tunnel is the same thing as a hoop house, but lower. 

So what do you say? Wanna give it a shot with me? If it works it’ll be rad. If it kind of works it’ll be rad-ish.

62 Comments

  1. Elizabeth Menard says:

    I’m in! I just planted 6 varieties, straight in the ground. I live on Vancouver Island, so fairly mild here, but I put a couple of old windows over top to help warm the soil. So excited to get gardening! LOVE your blog, Karen!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Elizabeth! I checked on mine an hour ago and the outdoor ones (in the greenhouse and in a little Cozy Coat) aren’t doing anything yet. The indoor ones are germinating and popping up. ~ karen!

  2. May says:

    I refer to radishes as hot wood and water chestnuts as Chinese wood.
    My mom used to plant radish seeds with carrot seeds. The radishes grow quickly and are harvested quickly making space for the carrots to grow

  3. Viki Lambert says:

    One of my favorite things is the radish seed pods. They look like little pea pods with a mild radish flavor. Good in stir fries and salad.. I snack on them when in the garden.

  4. Carrie L Krumrie says:

    My husband loves radishes!!! So, I got my seeds. I showed them to him! Under impressed! Oh, well!!
    We live North of Atlanta, so I am going to just throw caution to the wind…..and put them outside!!!
    He was impressed they grew so quick!!!

    • Karen says:

      Wait. What? They’ve grown already, lol??? ~ karen!

    • Kat - the other 1 says:

      Wow! I’m just south of Atlanta, and just started a pot of gourmet radishes for containers seeds, & now the temp plopped. Oy! I’m hoping they’ll be ok! But your temps have been somewhat chillier , I think, so here’s hoping!
      I don’t think I even like radishes lol. But dad saw me labeling the pot and said, “Oh! I like radishes.”
      So somebody will eat them. If they grow. If the slugs & [email protected]! squirrels don’t get them. :)

  5. Jessica L Patton says:

    I bought some wasabi radish seeds this year as well, let’s see how they go ! I love spicy varieties

  6. DANNY LINGMAN says:

    Picked radishes are pretty good. Slice, sprinkle salt on. Leave for a couple hours, then rinse, and put in a jar and cover with apple cider vinegar.

  7. Mary Fehlman says:

    Sliced radishes in stir fry taste like water chestnuts. Perfect crunchiness!

    • Warren Whittle says:

      Coincidence! I love radishes but I have never had them cooked (I am 73) in any way. Yesterday my wife stir fried some diced chicken breast with celery, mushrooms, green peppers, radishes and oyster sauce. The radishes (ordinary globe type ex supermarket) had a spicy taste much like mild chillies. I would rate it 12 out of 10!

  8. Marg says:

    I thought I hated radish but maybe this is the year to challenge that!
    It’s still -30’C this week in Northern Alberta so I think I’ll stick to cupboard organization for a few months!

  9. Nancy Ann says:

    I live near Tampa and it’s 85 degrees today, but those are such cute little radishes I’m going to get some seeds and try it!!

    • whitequeen96 says:

      You’re just rubbing it in about how warm it is to make everyone else jealous!
      Note: I live in southern California and I like to do the same thing! ;-) It’s orange blossom season here!

  10. Karen A says:

    Well, I’ve been impatient to start planting so this is right up my alley.
    Challenge accepted :-D

  11. Lynda says:

    Radishes are wonderful to replace potatoes in stews and soups.

    • Jessica L Patton says:

      I have a grow light coming in today, I’m going to attempt an entirely inside-grown radish for you!

  12. Debbie Gibson says:

    Have you ever had fried radishes? So totally yummy!! Just treat like cottage potatoes, chop up, add onion and garlic and whatever spices you love. They don’t get crisp like potatoes but, oh man I’m off to pick up a bunch right now. Give it a try, you’ll be happier.

  13. Barbara says:

    I quickly scanned these comments and didn’t see it, but thought I’d mention that radish tops (the green leaves) can be eaten too. We like to cut the radishes into bite size pieces and tear the tops into bite size pieces, add to a small pot of water, and cook till the tenderness you prefer. After they’re drained and in a bowl, you can add a sprinkle of whatever sweetener you like, some salt, pepper and vinegar (we like red balsanic with them). Some people add garlic, pepper flakes and olive oil. The greens are really good for you and you don’t waste half the plant! By the way, some radishes got forgotten and grew to an immense size. Cooked those and liked them too.

  14. LOIS M BARON says:

    This is a tasty radish recipe that I tried while working to expand the vegetables I use: https://food52.com/recipes/6606-sauteed-radishes-with-mint

  15. Karen says:

    You are inspiring & I just bought organic ‘fire candle’ radish seeds for the 1st time from
    Seeds of Imbolc (ca) & I’m too stingy to take a chance on losing some of my 50 seeds but will let you know the results later. I don’t have a lot of space/sun but have gone a little nuts with seed purchases in last couple of weeks. Any tips on combined growing with perennial
    flowers etc, would be a helpful blog too. I have also found my H.H. store & local health food store to offer the best selections. H.H. prices were good. Today is seedy Saturday in Ontario.

    • Susan Mercurio says:

      I’m going nuts with bright flower plants to grow in pots this summer and bright flower house plants. (I’m in Minnesota, right below you.)

      It’s cabin fever.

  16. Leslie Russell says:

    I thought root veg like radishes, carrots, beets etc don’t like to be transplanted because of the long root. Have I been wrong all these years?? My favorite is the white icicle because it’s hot like horseradish. 🥵
    Leslie

  17. Patricia Shebaylo says:

    I live in the north Okanagan and I’m also in for the challenge. Sounds like fun. I only have the red seeds so I’ll be in the lookout for some others

  18. I would love to try pickling some radishes. What do you think?
    Also, I love the idea of radish bouquets!

  19. John Moore says:

    What a rad idea! Yes, I know that “rad” is derived from “radical” among the aging woke folks. But I couldn’t resist. Wuz it punny?

    I have learned that the French Breakfast Radish sounds enticing; but it isn’t. Who understands the French? Who, other than them, eats radishes for breakfast? To clarify . . . it’s a perfectly fine radish . . . just not for breakfast.

    And who knew there was entertainment to be found in an article about growing radishes? Good job, Karen!

  20. Erin says:

    I’m in.
    Got the snow in front of the hoop house door cleared a couple days ago.
    Heading in today to see the lay of the land.
    Planting starts in earnest around “March Break” (which we are not having this year in Ontario apparently.)

  21. Mary W says:

    Please post how you use radishes BESIDES fresh in a salad. I’ve heard to roast them but haven’t tried it yet. What else? Please show a picture and directions for using these – your pictures really work well to inspire. When I was little I ate them with dipped in salt while waiting for supper but don’t know any other way to eat them and now I don’t care for lots of salt nor the heat of the little guys.

    • Karen says:

      You can roast them Mary. I’ve done it but to be honest I didn’t like them. I thought they were stupid roasted, lol. I really just use them to eat straight dipped in salt, or as you say in a salad. But mostly I eat them dipped in salt with a piece of bread and butter. :) ~ karen!

      • KATHLEEN HARTZELL says:

        Omg, I’m going to counter Karen’s roasted radish pronouncement. We have been putting radishes on the sheet pan with our Brussels sprouts, diced beets, broccoli, carrots etc. this year and find the spicy bite of the radish a great addition.

        PS: million years ago, our parent participation pre school, aka CO OP, built beds for the kids to grow things. The first thing planted were radishes, and I said psh, the kids won’t eat radishes. Imagine my amazement when about 5 weeks later they harvested, washed and devoured those radishes!

        PPS: my job was to cover the beds to keep the cats out. I’m glad I had such a valuable role, especially since I needed to save (radish) face

      • Shawna says:

        My Grandma would make herself radish & “Oleo” (aka margarine) sandwiches.

  22. Kathleen says:

    Watermelon Radish are definitely worth a mention!

  23. Vaneska says:

    I have to be careful reading these awesome, funny posts. I’m usually drinking my coffee and almost have to spit it out! I will totally try this radish experiment! Thank you : )

  24. Jack Ledger says:

    Just a note on radishes which I munch on regularly as part of a lame but sincere diet plan. All those store bought radishes this time of year lack the “bite” that you normally get with fall radishes. I suspect that these are grown in indoor greenhouses utilizing mostly water and nutrients. Anyway I find them crunchy but bland.

    • Karen says:

      It could be the variety. It probably looks good and stores well, but doesn’t have great flavour. The same way grocery store tomatoes don’t have great flavour. They were bred for transportability, speed of growth etc. not for flavour. SO. Gonna grow some?? ~ karen!

  25. Anita says:

    Great idea! We have two huge bay windows that face south-ish I’m going to try this in.

    BTW, I’ve been growing bush beans in my dining room for the past 5 weeks. They should be ready for picking in a week or two \( °□° )/

  26. Sabina says:

    Since moving into a home with no basement I was hoping to use my mini greenhouse (same as yours) on our covered porch to start my seeds this year. We have a corner that’s protected by house on two sides and I have heat mats. I was skeptical but now seeing this post gives me a little more confidence. Thanks Karen :)

    • Karen says:

      Just remember that the greenhouse has to go somewhere that also has sun. :) There’s really only one section of my porch that gets enough sun. ~ karen!

      • Sabina says:

        My husband, whom I’ve nicknamed MacGuyver, will be setting up my grow lights on their timer. Is it a matter of thermal heat or light?

  27. Thera says:

    I am sad because I already bought a bunch of seeds, including radish, but it turns out I am moving at the beginning of April and not only do I not want the hassle of moving a bunch of little pots etc. I am not sure most would survive and I am moving to an apartment to everything will have to go into containers which I have never done. So I think I have to pass on this challenge.

    • Karen says:

      Perfectly understandable! Good luck with the move. ~ karen!

    • Susan Mercurio says:

      You can just keep the seeds until the chaos of the move is over and plant them at your leisure. Most seeds aren’t that picky.

      And I have to grow everything in pots, because I move a lot, and while container gardening has its own rules, it’s a very popular way of growing your own food. Many seed companies are developing smaller plants for containers. Give it a whirl!

  28. Jerry Dye says:

    OK Lady, Your are on for radishes. I’m presently at home recoverin from Covid Pneumonia and am desperate for something to do. I’ll begin today.

  29. Billy Sharpstick says:

    Florida – Can’t really participate in your experiment, but we’ll be sowing radish in the next week or so directly in raised beds.
    We’ve still got some radishes we left in the ground from last year. We had a couple nights down to 28 or so. They’re bolting now. The leaves are good in salad. Sometimes I pinch off a couple inches of the flowering top and munch on it.

  30. Jude says:

    I’m in. Getting the heating mat. Now for bouquet seeds.

  31. Moss man says:

    I just planted 100,000 radishes yesterday I did it in 30 minutes and it didn’t cost me anything so how did I do it well it was easy now I could’ve did this with or without Rototilling the Ground …

    I went to somebody else’s farm that was very large they grew radishes they didn’t harvest hardly any of them last year and I Harvested all the seeds they gave me about a pick up a load of seeds I put those in garbage cans I grabbed one of my garbage cans and basically just kind of sprinkle the seed pods around after I tilled the area

    Eventually they will all grow some
    Will grow in a few weeks and others might take a few months until the seed pods open up and release the seven seas that are in the pods it was basically like sprinkling money all over the place done next year or should I say at the end of this yearI will have at least 100 times more…
    Then I did the same technique with raspberries and Marion berries within about an hour and a half I planted 300,000 seeds and I didn’t have to pay any money for all those seeds because not everybody wants to save the seeds…

    ReMember…..Nothing can grow there unless you put the Seeds in that spot to grow so please you have the knowledge working fingers to be able to drop the seeds right on top of the ground if you had to that’s how I do it and then I let the rain pound them into the ground after I tilled Simple

    • Tina says:

      You live in Oregon, right? I’m from Astoria but now living in MA. I wish I could get some of your marionberry seeds! But right now I’m down to a mere 2 feet of snow on the ground so I won’t be planting anything for a while.

  32. Ed Karch says:

    I’m in planting green meat radishes alongside ice sickle and cherry

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