When To Pick Radishes: Expert Radish Harvesting Guide

When To Pick Radishes: Expert Radish Harvesting Guide

Radishes (Raphanus sativus) are a part of the cabbage family and are one of the easiest vegetables to grow and something you should really try, even if you’re just a beginner. Many gardeners overlook these humble little vegetables even though they’re highly versatile and almost foolproof when it comes to growing them.

To make them even more attractive, they can be picked as soon as 3-4 weeks after planting and even the leaves are edible. They grow really fast and don’t take up a lot of space in your garden.

This means that you can easily grow multiple crops in one season for a continuous supply of radishes all summer long and well into the fall or autumn.

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When Are Radishes Ready To Be Harvested?

nice crop of spring radishes

To determine when your fresh radishes are ready to be harvested, you need to consider the variety that you’re growing. Believe it or not, there are numerous different varieties and these fall into three different groups – spring radishes, summer radishes and winter radishes.

Ideally, radishes, like other root crops, should be grown from seed. This is because root vegetables generally don’t transplant well. Radish seeds are readily available at garden centers or online.

So, to determine the right time to harvest, have a look at the seed packet. This should tell you what type of radish you’re growing and the days to harvest.

How To Tell If Your Radishes Are Ready

Radishes popping out of the soil

More often than not, you should be able to see the tops of the roots just below the leaves of the radish plants. If this is around 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter, then the radish is ready to be harvested.

If the top of the radish isn’t easily visible just above the soil surface, just gently brush away some of the soil until you can see it. Remember to push the soil back if the radish roots are still too small.

You want to ensure that you pick your radishes as soon as they’re ready for the best flavor and texture.

Also, keep a record of when you planted them and then check them often once the time to harvest on the radish seed packet is getting near. 

The easiest way to do this is to mark on a calendar the day you planted the seeds. Then, put a reminder into your phone a few days before they’re ready to mature. This way you can check them daily when they’re close to maturity to see whether they’re ready to harvest.

Here’s a quick guide on how to tell when spring and winter radishes are ready to harvest.

Spring Radishes

As these radishes grow, you should be able to see the top of the root poke through the soil. This provides an easy way to determine when these are ready for harvest. 

Once the tops of the roots are around 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter, it’s time to pull them up. It’s important not to leave the radishes in the ground for too long because they’ll become woody.

Winter Radish Varieties

These varieties are quite different. They can take up to three months to mature, so they’re generally not ready to harvest until the fall or autumn. Essentially, they will need to be harvested before the ground freezes or gets too cold.

However, these you can leave in the ground until you’re ready to harvest them or need them. They won’t go woody like the spring radishes.

Also, unlike the spring radishes, these varieties can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Make sure you remove the leaves first. 

If you happen to have a cold storage facility or a coolroom, you can store these for around two months.

Time To Harvest For Different Types Of Radishes

crops of daikon radishes

Here’s a handy chart that lists the different types of radishes and their time to harvest. I’ve even included some common varieties to make it easier for you.

Early Spring RadishesSummer RadishesWinter Radishes
VarietyDays to HarvestVarietyDays to HarvestVarietyDays to Harvest
Cherry Belle22French Breakfast23China Rose52
Early Scarlet Glove22Icicle25Round Black Spanish55
Easter Egg25Rat Tail45Daikon60

Tips About Some Of These Varieties

If you’re not familiar with some of these varieties, here are some tips so you know what to look for:

  • Cherry Belle are red radishes with a round shape
  • Early Scarlet Globe is also round and red.
  • Easter Egg is oval and comes in different colors.
  • French Breakfast is oblong with a red top and white base.
  • Icicle is long, slender and white in color.
  • Rat Tail radish is grown for its seed pods and not its roots. These are commonly used in stir fries and other dishes to add a little extra flavor and bite. They can also be added to salads.
  • China Rose has red skin and white flesh.
  • Round Black Spanish has black skin and white flesh. These also tend to be hotter.
  • Daikon is a Japanese radish that is white in color. It can grow to a length of 16 inches (45 cm).

How Do You Harvest Your Radish Crop?

bunch of freshly harvested radishes

Harvesting radishes is really easy. You just pull the entire plant out of the soil like you would a carrot or other root vegetable. If the ground is a little hard or you have other plants growing close by, you can use a small garden fork or trowel to gently loosen up the soil.

What Are Radish Leaves Commonly Used For?

radishes in a pot complete with leaves

Remember how I mentioned that radish leaves, commonly referred to as radish greens, are also edible? You might be interested in ways these can be used. This is a great way to reduce waste and use as much of your produce as possible, so I’m going to give you a few ideas.

  • You can make a pesto using the radish leaves instead of basil leaves. This will be slightly spicier and full of flavor. Similarly, carrot tops can also be used to make pesto.
  • Radish leaves can be tossed into a salad or used in place of lettuce on a sandwich.
  • Sautee the leaves with garlic and a little olive oil for a tasty side dish.
  • Make an interesting coleslaw by shredding the roots and leaves together.

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes radishes hot?

If your radishes are exposed to hot weather early on in their growth, they’re much more likely to get hot. Similarly, overcrowding will also make them too hot to eat as can insufficient moisture in the soil.

What will happen if you leave the radishes in the ground too long?

If you don’t harvest spring radishes when they’re ready and leave them in the ground, they are likely to become woody and too hot to eat. Also, radishes left in the ground as the weather starts to warm up can split, making them inedible.

Can you harvest radishes after they’ve flowered?

You’ll find that radishes that have flowered will be bitter and often, woody. This makes them undesirable for eating. However, it’s a good idea to leave a few to go to seed so you can harvest these for subsequent crops.

Do you have to fertilize radishes?

As radishes grow so quickly, there’s really no need to fertilize as long as you’ve prepared the soil beforehand with lots of organic matter.

Should you grow radishes in full sun?

Although planting radishes in full sun is preferable, some afternoon shade can be useful in hotter regions to stop them from bolting to seed too quickly. However, too much shade might result in smaller radishes.

Final Thoughts

Radishes are a surprisingly easy vegetable to grow and should be on your list. They grow much faster than a lot of other crops and can help to fill in spaces in your vegetable garden. 

Knowing when to harvest them is important, especially for spring varieties. That’s because you don’t want to leave these in the ground for too long as they’ll become woody and too hot to eat.

Once you start growing this easy vegetable, you’ll wonder why you never tried it before. It’s truly one of the easiest vegetables to grow and will reward you much sooner than a lot of other crops that you’re growing.

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