Category Archives: At Home

Tomatillo Gardening

Tomatillo Gardening

Tomatillo Gardening  is a warm season vegetable that’s planted outdoors once all dangers of frost have passed in spring,

Tomatillo (Physalis ixocarpa), or Mexican husk tomato, are members of the nightshade family, grown for their small, green or purple fruits. The fruits closely resemble unripe tomatoes in their appearance with a leafy husk that wraps the outside, hence the name. Tomatillos originated in Mexico and are a staple of Mexican cuisine to this day. They are consumed raw or added to soups, sauces, salsa, and jam. It’s a perennial plant in southern climates, usually grown as an annual vegetable that grows up to 3.3 feet tall. Tomatillo thrives in warm climates and are very sensitive to frost.

Types & Varieties of Tomatillo

Tomatillo is an excellent source of fiber. It’s rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin K and niacin. Several different varieties exist, with some differences in the size and flavor of the fruit. Some types give green or yellow colored fruits while some are purple.

Common varieties of Tomatillo:

  • Cisineros It’s a very productive variety that matures in 85 days and produces large green fruits, up to 2.5 inches in diameter. They have a sweet, fruity flavor and work great in salsa and sauces.
  • Pineapple – It’s a unique variety that produces loads of small, yellow fruits, about an inch in diameter. The fruits are green to begin with but turn yellow as they reach maturity, in about 75 days from planting. It’s sweet, pineapple flavor is where its name comes from.
  • Amarylla – This is an heirloom variety with sweet yellow fruits that reach maturity as the husks split open. The firm, small fruits are perfect for jams, and salsa.
  • Toma Verde – Maturing in 60 to 70 days, it takes little time to grow, producing abundant, large green fruits. The fruits are very sweet, and work great in sauces and salsa.  

Each plant produces 1 to 2 pounds of fruit so plan around 1 to 2 plants per person, spacing them 3 to 4 feet apart in rows with a 3-foot spacing between rows.

Temperature and Timing for growing Tomatillo

Tomatillo is a warm season vegetable that’s planted outdoors once all dangers of frost have passed in spring, and the temperatures are consistently above 50°F. You may start the seeds earlier indoors, 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost and transplant the seedlings once the frost has passed and the soil is warm. The vegetable plant thrives when temperatures are between 70°F and 80°F.  

Sun Exposure and Soil Requirements

Tomatillo requires a spot with full sun to thrive and produce abundant, healthy fruits. For best growth, it needs to get 8 or more hours of direct sunlight.

Well-drained, moderately fertile land is best for tomatillos, but since they’re hardy plants, they’ll also survive in low fertility.

How to Plant Tomatillo

Tomatillo gardening begins with planting the seeds indoors, 6 to 8 weeks before the last expected frost of spring. Staring the seeds indoors is especially important in regions where summers are shorter, since the plants will need at least two months to grow to maturity after being transplanted in the garden.

It’s important to know that you’ll need at least 2 tomatillo plants for pollination and fruit set. Since they are not self-fertilizing, individual plants will not be able to fertilize themselves. Plant the seeds in seedling trays filled with light potting soil and allow them to grow besides a sunny window before they’re ready to go in the garden.

Once the outdoor temperature stays consistently above 50°F, you can start hardening off the seedlings. Give plenty of time to adapt to the outdoor conditions before setting them in the prepared garden bed. Space them at least 3 to 4 feet apart since they have a bushy growth, with 18 to 24 inch spread.

Just like tomatoes, the seedlings are planted deeply since roots appear along the stems. Set some form of support, such as a trellis or a tomato cage to keep the plants off the ground. Mulch the soil with 2 to 3 inches of organic matter to keep weeds at bay and preserve soil moisture.

Offer about an inch of water each week. Since tomatillos are light feeders, they won’t need any fertilization if you planted them in organic soil amended with some compost to begin with.  

Harvest

Tomatillos take around 75 to 100 days to grow to maturity. Here’s how to harvest them.

  • Harvesting begins when the fruits fill out the husks and the papery husks start splitting open.
  • Sometimes, the husk won’t split open but will turn brown and leathery, this is also a sign that they’re ready to be picked.
  • Harvest them while they’re still firm. Don’t wait until the fruit turns pale yellow since they’ll be seedier and will lose their characteristic tanginess.
  • Remove the fruits by cutting the stem with sharp pruners. Avoid pulling the fruits as it may damage the plant.

Storing

If you plan on storing them, don’t remove the husk before refrigerating them. At room temperature, tomatillos will stay fresh for up to a week, while in the fridge, they can last for up to 3 weeks. Either place them loose or inside a paper bag. Don’t store them in plastic. You can also freeze whole or sliced tomatillos to save them for longer. Canning or preserving in the form of sauces or jam is another way to use your harvest through the rest of the year. 

Pests and Diseases

Pests

  • Aphids sometimes bother your tomatillos, sucking the sap from the plants. In small numbers, they aren’t too problematic but too many can cause stunted growth. You can hose them off with water or spray the plants with insecticidal soap.
  • Cucumber beetles, with yellow and black stripes on their back, live on the underside of the leaves, eating away the leaves and weakening the plants. Use floating row covers to protect newly planted seedlings. 
  • Potato beetles are orange-yellow, with three black lines on the back and are a common problem with tomatillo crops. If there are only a few of them, handpicking is enough to eliminate the pests. However, on a heavily infested crop, you may use chemical pesticides – but be careful when using pesticide while tomatillo gardening.

Diseases

  • Anthracnose is a fungal disease that attacks the fruits as it ripens. It begins as a small, sunken spot and grows into a large, black lesion. Eventually, the fruit will rot. The disease is often the result of very hot and humid conditions
  • Bacterial Leaf Spot damages the leaves and the fruits on the plant. It appears as translucent spots that grow bigger with a red center. The disease thrives in cooler climates.

Hopefully, this article will help you with your tomatillo gardening to grow the best tomatillos to feed your Mexican cravings – wish you a great gardening experience!

Brussels Sprouts Gardening

Brussels Sprouts Gardening

Brussels sprouts gardening is fun

Brussels sprouts, Brassica oleracea, are a unique type of cabbage belonging to the Brassicaceae family. Though the vegetable is native to the Mediterranean region like other cabbages, they’re named after Brussels, a city in Belgium, where they have been popular since the 13th century. Brussel sprouts are rich in nutrients, primarily antioxidants, fibers, and Vitamin K. Something you need to know about brussels sprouts gardening is they are an annual cool-weather crop that grows up to 2 to 3 feet in height, forming numerous miniature cabbage heads along thick stalks. They’re planted in late summers, taking about 80 days from transplant to reach maturity and be harvested in late fall or early winter. Brussel sprouts taste best when they’re harvested after being subject to light frost.

Types & Varieties of Brussels Sprout

Different Brussels sprout varieties exist, with subtle differences in the sizes and number of buds attached to the stalks and also their color and flavor. Several tiny buds are attached close to each other in some varieties, while others have bigger buds with some spacing between them. Colors range from pale green to reddish-purple. 

Common varieties of Brussels Sprouts:

  • CatskillIt’s an heirloom variety, introduced in 1941. It produces 2” round, deep green sprouts attached to long, strong stalks. It takes between 85 to 110 days to grow to maturity.
  • Dagan – The variety produces bright green sprouts that hold their shape well at harvesting. They grow tall stalks with medium to large sprouts, taking about 100 days to reach maturity.
  • Green Gems – These varieties grow to about 34-36” tall, packed with beautiful 1.5” sprouts. The mini cabbages have a golden interior and reach maturity in just over 85 days.
  • Churchill – It’s a fast-growing hybrid that produces flavorful, green sprouts in as little as 90 days. 

If you’re building a vegetable garden for self-sustenance, plan around 2 to 8 Brussels sprout plants per person, and since the individual plants are spaced at least 16” apart, plant around 8 to 10 feet per person.

Temperature and Timing for growing Brussels Sprout

Brussels sprouts are cool-season vegetables that grow best at temperatures between 45 and 75°F. In warmer climates, they’re planted in late summers for a winter harvest, while in cooler climates, they’re planted in early summers to be harvested in the fall. They can tolerate below-freezing temperatures for a couple of days. In fact, the flavor is enhanced when they’re subject to light frost.

Sun Exposure and Soil Requirements

Full sun, with exposure for at least 6 hours a day is best for Brussels sprouts gardening. They prefer growing in fertile, well-drained soil that’s amended with plenty of organic matter. Make sure the soil pH is between 6.5 to 7.

How to Plant Brussels Sprout

Brussels sprout gardening begins by planting the seeds ½ to ¼ inch deep in pots or seedling trays 12 to 14 weeks before autumn’s first frost. Plant 2 to 3 seeds in each module and maintain moisture in the soil. The seeds will sprout in 7 to 12 days. After the seedlings appear, remove the weaker ones, keeping the strongest ones to develop further. Once the seedlings are 4 weeks old, they are ready to be transplanted into the garden.

When it’s time to transplant them in the garden, harden off the plants by setting out the seedling tray in a shady spot outdoors, bringing them back inside for the night. Increase the sun exposure gradually until they’re ready to be planted in the garden bed in about a week.

brussels sprouts get sweeter after a few light frosts

Set the transplants 16 to 18″ apart in rows that are spaced 30 inches apart. Remember to firm the soil around the seedlings, so they’re well-anchored to the ground as they develop into mature plants.

Brussels like their soil evenly moist. Offer about 1 inch of water each week, watering at the base of the plant. Overwatering can result in stunted growth and root rot, so be careful in providing just the right level of moisture. 

Fertilize the soil once before setting the transplants and a second time at mid-season. For fertilizing the sprouts, you can either side-dress the plants with aged compost or use a balanced organic fertilizer, such as 5-5-5.

Stake the plants since they’ll become top-heavy as the buds start developing. If there isn’t a stake for support, the plants will lean over or fall.

Harvest

Once your Brussels sprout gardening goes successfully, there will be loads of sprouts to harvest at the end of the season. Here’s how you harvest sprouts:

  • As the crop approaches harvest, the leaves near the buds start turning yellow. It takes about 3 to 4 months for the buds to come to harvest from the time of transplanting. Once the buds are about 1.5 inches in diameter and still firm, it’s time to harvest them.
  • Near the end of the growing season, remove the lower leaves to allow more room for the development of the buds.
  • The lower buds mature first; puck them before they turn yellow. Yellow buds are bitter. Harvest the upper bulbs as they develop. If you want all the sprouts to come to harvest at the same time, pinch out the growing tip.
  • If a drastic temperature drop or rise is predicted in the coming days as the plant approaches harvest, you can harvest the entire stalk. The stalk is also edible once the tough outer layer is removed. 

Storing

When stored unwashed in a plastic bag, Brussels sprouts will stay fresh in the fridge for over 3 to 4 weeks. Remove the loose, yellow outer leaves from the buds before storing them. Blanched sprouts can be frozen and used for up to 4 months.

Pests and Diseases

Pests

  • Aphids are a common problem with Brussels sprouts. These insects collect on the stems and weaken the plants by sucking the sap from them. You can hose them off with water.
  • Cabbage loopers and cabbage worms also attack Brussels sprouts. You can either handpick and kill them or spray the plants with Bacillus thuringiensis.
  • Cutworms often come out at night to feed on the plants. Place cutworm collars around the plants at the beginning of the growing season to protect the young plants.

Diseases

  • Brussels is susceptible to cabbage yellows. This is a fungal disease that begins at the lower buds, turning them yellow and then progressing to the higher buds. Plant resistant varieties and apply compost tea regularly to prevent the disease.
  • Clubroot is another fungal disease that affects Brussels sprouts. They result in the swelling of roots and weakening and wilting of the plants. Maintaining a neutral soil pH and an adequate supply of calcium and magnesium can help control the disease.

Follow this guide, and you’ll hopefully grow lots of crunchy, flavorful Brussels sprouts to grace your dishes.

Cauliflower Gardening

Cauliflower Gardening

Being part of the brassica family, Cauliflower (brassica oleracea) is a versatile vegetable. Its name comes from the Latin “caulis,” which means cabbage, and “floris” for flower. The first thing to know when cauliflower gardening is the “head” is actually a mass of flower buds. If allowed to go to seed the buds will become a mass of small yellow flowers (they actually look pretty and attract pollinators). It is an annual plant that can grow to 2.5 feet tall. The large, rounded blue-green leaves resemble collards. The leaves that grow above the curd (flower head) are often tied together over the curd prior to harvest to shade it and keep it from discoloring. Cauliflower has been bred to grow different color curds with great taste. The stems and leaves can also be eaten – although I do not.

Types & Varieties of Cauliflower

Cauliflower is rich in vitamins and nutrition. It contains Vitamin C & K, calcium, potassium, magnesium and antioxidants. Cauliflower has many variations ranging in size and color. Its heads are available in traditional white to orange, purple, and yellow and all have the same great taste – mild, slightly sweet, and nutty.

Common varieties of Cauliflower:

  • Veronica F1 – Favored for crudites and raw vegetable dishes. This cauliflower has northern Italian roots dating back to the 15th century and is a gourmet favorite today. Heads mature in 70-90 days from transplant.

  • Cheddar – Typically, orange, cheddar-like carrots contain beta-carotene and take just 60 to 70 days after transplant to mature.

  • Graffiti – With deep purple color, which turns blue when cooked, this cauliflower variety is heat resistant and matures in 70 to 80 days after transplant.

  • Steady – this variety is meaty and has outer leaves that wrap around the dense white curd and protects it naturally – no manual blanching.  Moreover, steady cauliflower favors a variety of climates, making it easier for you to grow.

  • The Goodman – With a nutty flavor and tender white florets, goodman is an early cauliflower with small, uniform heads. The plants reach maturity in 65 to 75 days after transplant

A 20 foot row should yield between 8 to 10 heads. If you are planning a “year-round” food supply, plant about 15 – 20 feet per person.

Temperature and Timing, for growing Cauliflower

Cauliflower is adapted to the cool-season; it prefers temperatures around 60 °F but will grow in an environment up to 80° F without much issue. In areas that have frosts, cauliflower can be grown as a spring or fall crop. In warmer areas with no expected frosts, it can be grown as a winter crop.

Sun Exposure and Soil Requirements

Cauliflower requires full sun to grow which means it needs at least 6 hours of direct light. If your garden can provide more – so much the better.

Cauliflower prefers well-drained soil with pH ranges between 6.0 – 7.5. Soil should be well-prepared and moist for proper growth.

How to Plant Cauliflower

Cauliflower gardening starts when you plant cauliflower seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last expected spring frost. Use a good seed starting mix and set 2 to 3 seeds in each cell 1/4 inch deep. Keep planting mix moist. Seedlings will emerge in 1 to 3 weeks. Make sure the seedlings have plenty of light. Learn how to grow vegetable plants indoors. When the seedlings have their real leaves transfer to larger seed pots – I use 3” wide pots for each seedling.

Cauliflower gardening allows for many different varieties loaded with vitamins and antioxidants

Before planting in the garden, seedling plants need to be “hardened off”. Set them in a safe space outdoors for about a week or so. What hardening is used for, in my estimation, is to get the plants used to direct sun and typical outdoor conditions. It is not to get them used to hard cold weather, if frosts are expected bring the plants back inside. Be careful the first few days the plants are outside making sure the sun does not scald the leaves – if that happens, the plants are likely to die.

Cauliflower transplants should be planted 2 feet apart in rows that are 2 – 3 feet wide.

Once transplanted into the garden, water adequately giving 1-1/2 inches of water per week. Never let the soil dry out for extended periods of time; that can affect the growth of the head. You can maintain a good moisture level by adding mulch.

Fertilize your cauliflower every 3 to 4 weeks with a well-balanced, 10-10-10, fertilizer.

Cauliflower does not like heat – over 80° F, when it’s too hot the plant can experience “buttoning,” where it forms several small heads instead of one large one. Conversely, hard frosts will kill the plant. Use row cover to prevent frost damage and shade cloth to protect your plant from heat stress.

Harvest

If your cauliflower gardening season went well there will be produce to harvest, here is how:

  • You can harvest plants in about 50-100 days from transplant, depending on conditions experienced and type of plant grown. Look for good compact curds approximately 6 – 8 inches in diameter with good color – if you would buy it in the store means your cauliflower is ready to harvest.

  • Depending on the variety, typically white curd varieties, you may want to tie leaves over the curds after the head emerges and can be seen to “blanch” the heads.
  • Use a knife to cut the head and leave some of the leaves for protection.

  • If you notice small heads that already started to flower, harvest immediately.

  • If Cauliflower shows coarse appearance, it has past maturity, it can be used but quality will be low.

Storing

Place cauliflower heads in plastic bags with a damp paper towel inside to store heads in the refrigerator. The head should keep 2 to 3 weeks this way.

You can also freeze cauliflower. To do so you will need to first cut the head into pieces, put into a pot of boiling water for a minute to blanch and then transfer to cold water to stop the cooking. Once cold, pat the pieces dry, put in a plastic bag and place in the freezer.

Cauliflower, just like cucumbers, pickle well.  

Pests and Diseases

  • Flea beetles are a common pest problem. They damage leaves by leaving numerous tiny holes in leaves. If the infestation is bad enough the plants can be killed. Two organic methods to control flea beetles are:
  • using floating row covers to protect the plants and
  • putting beneficial nematodes in the soil to attack and kill the beetle larvae.

  • Cabbage loopers and cabbage moths lay eggs and the larvae will eat holes in the leaves and flower heads which could potentially destroy the plants. Use Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) to control them.

  • Aphids are small soft skinned insects that suck the fluids from the plants and can weaken them. Try spraying with water to dislodge the aphids. Organic methods include using ladybug larvae – they will eat the aphids, spay the leaves with insecticidal soap or carefully coat the leaves with neem or canola oil.
Disease
  • Club root – Caused by soil fungus which causes slow-growing cauliflower heads and wilting. You can prevent this disease by selecting resistant varieties and rotating crops.

  • Bacterial soft rot makes the head and leaves mushy and excessively wet. They may even start to ooze liquid that turns brown or black. There isn’t much to do about this disease except keep your plants healthy enough to prevent it. Keep the soil and plants clean and avoid getting the head and leaves wet. You should also practice good crop rotation with your plants.

  • Powdery mildew and downy mildew are common on cole crops, and both are annoying to resolve. Neem oil can help reduce their formation, but if they appear, a copper-based fungicide is your best bet for preventing further spread. Remove all infected material and treat until there are no signs of further infestation.

  • The cauliflower mosaic virus is transmitted by sucking pests such as aphids and thrips. There are no treatments for mosaic virus species, and prevention is your only protection. Keep pests away from your plants to avoid this deadly plant disease.

Hopefully this article will help in having a successful cauliflower gardening season – GOOD LUCK!!

Beet Gardening

Beet Gardening: How to Plant Grow and Harvest Beets

Beet gardening these tasty vegetable can seem like a love hate between you and the people you cook for. Beets, also known as “beetroots,” are a cool-season crop that prefers full sun. It is easy to grow from seed in well-prepared soil and can tolerate cold and near freezing conditions but does best with temperatures from 50°F to 65°F. They are a perfect option for spring and fall crops in northern zones or as a winter crop in zone 9 and higher. In addition to being a good table food, beets are used to make food coloring and are used as a medicinal plant.

Types & Varieties of Beetroot

Beets contain iron and are high in fiber, vitamins A and C. They come in a range of shades, shapes, and sizes, with deep red, yellow, white, or striped roots. Here are some widely used types of beetroot.

For beet gardening, It will take approximately 2 ounces of beet seeds to plant a 100 foot row that will yield about 80 pounds of roots

• The most widely known beets are red/purple. They have the bonus of being excellent storage veggies. Detroit Dark Red is a prime example – it has a maturity date of about 60 days.
• Chioggia beet has a similar flavor to standard purple beets but is a little sweeter. The skin is a vivid pink/fuchsia color, with pink and white streaks on the inside when cut open. About 54 days to maturity.
• Golden beets are somewhat less sweet than red beets and they still have a mellower, less earthy taste. Burpee’s Golden has a maturity of about 55 days.
• Bull’s Blood is a stunning heirloom of dark maroon-red leaves that give a pop of color to salads. It is quick to mature at about 45 days.
• Lutz Green Leaf is a large plant with tasty green leaves. Its baseball-sized, heart-shaped roots are sweet and tender and it and stores well. With their large size, these beets take a bit longer to mature at about 80 days.
It will take approximately 2 ounces of beet seeds to plant a 100 foot row that will yield about 80 pounds of roots – excluding the greens. If you are planning to “year-round” food supply, plant about 10 – 15 feet per person.

Temperature & Timing for Growing Beetroot

Since beets are adapted to grow in cool climates, they are an excellent crop to plant in the springtime or late summer. The best temperature for daytime is 60° F to 70° F, and nights between 50° F to 60° F.

Sun Exposure and Soil Requirements

Grow beets in full sunlight. They require 6 hours of direct sun every day. Soil should be well-prepared and moist for proper growth. Soil should be free of rocks and other barriers to allow the beets to grow appropriately. Beets flourish in loamy, acidic soils with pH levels ranging between 6.0 and 7.5. Mix in an inch or two of compost, whether the soil is thick clay, rough, or alkaline. You can also add a pinch of wood ash, high in potassium, and promote root growth.

How to Plant Beetroot & Their Care

beet gardening

Starting beet gardening should be done as soon as the soil is workable in early spring. Plantings can be made every 2 weeks before mid-summer. They do not do well in hot weather. The heads can get tough and fibrous. One way to judge when to stop planting in the spring is to check average temperatures in your area. When the average temperature is expected to average over 80°F, count back 60 days – that should be the last date for spring planting. For Autumn planting, start sowing seeds 10 – 11 weeks before frosts are expected.
• Seeds should be sown 1/2 inch deep and 1 to 2 inches apart in rows about 1 foot apart.
• Beets prefer deep, well-drained soil. Use the slightly thicker soil when planting beets in the fall to help shield them from early frost.
• To ensure maximum germination, keep the soil moist. For best results, soak seeds for 24 hours before planting. Seeds should germinate in 7 to 10 days.
• An inch of water each week is recommended for proper growth. Too much water can result in insects and pest infestations.
• Beet “seeds” are a cluster of several small seeds together. When the seedlings are 2 inches tall pull the weaker ones to allow the strongest the room it needs.
• When the seedlings are 6 inches tall, pull every other plant. You can use what you pull.
• They will be ready for harvesting in 7-8 weeks. Gently dig them out once they reached their ideal size.

Harvesting

You should pull beets when the soil is dry. For your beet gardening, be careful when pulling or lifting roots from the ground, if you need to use a pitchfork or shovel, do so carefully. Do not to break or injure the beets.

The green tops are edible, and frankly very tasty. Leave an inch or two of the green stalks attached to the roots. If you cut away the top of the roots you will cause them to bleed.

Any roots that are damaged should be used within a few weeks, they will not store well and rot spots will start at any damage. To prepare any roots for storage, rub soil from the roots, try not wash but if you do, dry them.

Store beets in a cold moist place as near to freezing as possible without actual freezing, 32°-40°F and 95 percent relative humidity in a container—a bucket or plastic storage box or cooler with moist sand, peat moss, or sawdust. Don’t pack roots too tightly; if the roots touch they can start to rot; be sure to leave 2 inches (5 cm) of insulating material around at the top, bottom, and sides of the stored roots. Set the lid loosely so that there is good air circulation.

Problems: Fungal Diseases, Pests, and Insects

Your beet gardening will include pest and disease management. You’ll want to keep an eye out for and protect your crop from these top risks:

Pests

Flea beetles are the most common pest problem. They damage leaves by leaving numerous tiny holes in beet leaves. If the infestation is bad enough the plants can be killed. Two organic methods to control flea beetles are:

  1. using floating row covers to protect the plants and
  2. putting beneficial nematodes in the soil to attack and kill the beetle larvae.

    • Cabbage loopers, tiny green caterpillars that can destroy the plant. Use Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) to control.

    Disease

    • Different forms of soil-borne fungi that grow in wet, humid environments cause damping. It’s most likely damping off if the seedlings die unexpectedly not long after planting, and the plants look discolored and decaying. Enable the seed-starting mix to dry entirely before watering, and make sure your soil has good drainage. Do not overwater your plants.

    • Cercospora leaf spot is a fungus that occurs on the leaves as dark, patchy spots that may be yellowy in color. Remove the affected leaves and throw them out without affecting the healthy ones. If your beets are planted close together, thin them out, so crowded plants have a better chance to grow. Cercospora can be controlled by spraying Mancozeb

Radish gardening

Radish Gardening

Radish gardening is simple. They are among the fastest growing vegetables in the garden. These roots have a spicy, peppery flavor and the greens are super nutritious and delicious. Planting can be as easy as dropping seeds among slower growing vegetables like carrots or broccoli or cabbage – the radishes germinate and identify the row before the slower growing plants emerge.

The crunchy spring variety includes:

Cherry Bomb – maturity in 22 days

Crimson Giant – maturity in 30 days

Burpee White – maturity in 25 days

French Breakfast – maturity in 26 days

Early Scarlet Globe – maturity in 26 days

Organic Sparkler – maturity in 26 days

Where to Plant

Choose a site that gets at least six hours of sun a day. Spring radishes are not a finicky root vegetable. They do like full sun when the weather is cool yet will handle some shade when it’s warmer.

Because they are quick to sprout, simply sow them in any empty spaces in a bed.

Planting

Radish gardening - do not plant the seeds too deep

Since radishes like it cool and they grow fast, they are not candidates for starting in flats and transplanting. As soon as the garden’s soil is workable in the spring, you can plant a first sowing. Plant additional rows through early May for your spring crop. Autumn planting can begin again August 1 through September 1 for harvests into October and November.

Till the soil to a depth of at least eight inches, then make furrows about six inches apart and plant the seeds at a depth of about 1/2 inch and cover loosely with soil or peat moss (anything that will not clump up and make it difficult for the seeds to sprout). Allow about one inch between seeds in the row then thin to 2 inches as they mature.

Do not cultivate too deeply or you may damage the roots. Use a hand tool or a hoe and cultivate just deeply enough to cut the weeds off below the surface.

Sunlight and Soil Requirements

As previously stated, choose a site that gets at least six hours of sun a day. For the best radishes, plant them in a friable soil when the weather is cool and provide constant moisture. Any well-drained, slightly acidic to neutral soil with pH 6 to 7 will do for radishes. An overly rich soil will encourage lush foliage at the expense of crisp, tasty roots. If the soil is too dry, radishes may bolt and become pithy and too pungent to eat. If too wet, the roots will split and rot.

Succession Planting

Make small weekly sowings, trying different varieties to obtain a wide mix of radishes. Because most spring varieties mature in less than a month, succession plantings ensure a steady supply of radishes. When warm weather (65 degrees or higher) arrives, stop sowing as radishes will not tolerate heat and will rapidly go to seed. However, in late summer, you can start planting again for an Autumn harvest.  

Harvesting

Although radishes are easy to grow, when radish gardening knowing to harvest is the key to perfect radishes with crisp roots and mild flavor instead of hot as fire and as pithy as corks. Garden radishes are usually ready for harvest three to five weeks after planting. You can pull them any time they reach a usable size. They will get fibrous and develop a strong taste if left in the ground too long. Remove greens and wash roots well.

Problems

The worst invader of the radish patch is the root maggot. Luckily, this pest is easily avoided with a proper crop rotation. Never plant radishes in a bed that contained a cole crop in the last three years. If you incorporate some wood ashes in the soil, the maggots shouldn’t present a problem.

Flea beetles make tiny holes in the leaves, slugs and snails chew grooves in perfect roots, and a sudden deluge can cause radishes to split and start rotting.