Raphanus sativus, usually called radish, is a member of the brassicaceae family, also known as the mustard family. They were one of the earliest European vegetables to be imported to the Americas and are believed to have originated in Southeast Asia.
A rosette of 2- to 12-inch-long, oblong-shaped leaves develops on the thin hairy stalk. The upper leaves are slender and pointy.
The taproot is generally red or white in color and cylindrical or conical in form. Many purple or pink flowers with 2 to 12 seeds are produced by the plant.
Understanding the plant’s life cycle may help you better care for this delicious crop from garden to table.
The color of the seeds varies depending on the variety. The seeds come from mature pods and can stay viable for up to five years.
Radish seeds usually germinate in 3 to 4 days, but if the soil is still cold, it might take up to 10 days. Temperatures of 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal for efficient growth.
Several dark-green, somewhat hairy leaves with coarsely serrated edges appear after the first two cotyledons have formed. These will sprout from the shoot on tiny petioles.
The seed leaves, or cotyledons, are the first to appear in a seedling.
When the tiny seedlings first emerge from the soil, they will have two heart-shaped leaves. The next ones to grow are known as “true leaves,” which resemble smaller versions of mature leaves.
During this stage, the plant becomes sensitive to changes in moisture, heat, and weed competition. The radish must be pruned, weeds must be managed, and irrigation may be required throughout the growing season.
Radishes have a taproot that receives sugars via photosynthesis. As the root matures, it grows larger under the surface, and the leaves may reach a height of 6 to 18 inches, depending on the variety.
Roots are considered mature when they reach a desirable size. Smaller radishes may be ready in as little as 25 days, while bigger winter varieties might take up to 60 days to mature.
Bolting happens when plants are grown in very hot weather or when they are kept in the ground for an extended period of time.
Bolted radishes develop a tall stem with white or pink flowers, which are pollinated by bees and other insects. Once the plants have bolted, the roots are no longer edible.
If you have bolted radishes in your yard, wild radishes growing as weeds in the region may cross-pollinate its flowers.
The flowers will generate seeds when they have been pollinated.
The fertilized flowers mature into fleshy pods that harden with age. Cultivated radishes usually contain five seeds, while wild radish seed pods can produce as many as ten seeds.
The production of seeds is the end of the radish life cycle.
Care and Maintenance
Radish is a low-maintenance crop that doesn’t need much attention other than a consistent supply of water.
When the round, crimson roots are almost the size of a ping-pong ball, they can be harvested and consumed. Brush away some of the soil near the base to see how large the bulbs are, or pull one up to see how big it is.
The root crop can become tough and eventually inedible as they get bigger. For the best quality, spring varieties should be harvested once they are 1 inch in diameter.