The radish has been grown as an edible crop for more than 3,000 years yet it hasn’t been hugely popular in Europe except perhaps in France. This may be due to the speed with which radishes mature and become woody and flavorless. But picked when young, gleaming red radishes served simply with salt, butter and some good bread, are hard to beat.
Radishes mature fast: from sowing to cropping can be as little as three weeks. This makes them useful in the vegetable patch where they can be sown on any empty ground as a catch crop. But in order to avoid a glut you will need to sow little and often and bear in mind a 1m row will yield 30-40 radishes.
The beginning of March is a good time to sow on weed-free ground or in a generous size pot at home. To get fabulously crunchy roots radishes need rich, well-drained, light soil. Sow thinly one seed every 2.5cm in drills and in rows 15cm apart or space accordingly in a pot. Keep the ground weeded and water in dry weather. At this time of year you will need a layer of fleece laid loosely over the row and secured against March winds. By mid-April you should have your first crop and they’ll be ready when the shoulder is visible and measures about 2.5cms across. Throughout spring and summer they will need no protection and young radish leaves can be picked and added to a mixed leaf salad.
There’s a huge variety to choose from with different shapes, sizes and flavours so you might want to experiment and find one that suits your taste. The image is from last year and according to notes it was Saxa 2 but I mostly go by the image on the seed packet and try different types.
Week 16 of cut flowers and I was in despair and then spotted the newly emerging Lamium maculata. Splashed silver and maroon, the leaves are at their best at this time of year. The hellebores were picked and immediately the cut stems were held over a gas flame for 60 seconds. This was a Sarah Raven tip and it works to keep them upright.