Plant personalities #2: Radishes

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Radishes are a lovely beginner-friendly things to plant. They grow quickly, are pretty low-maintenance, feel equally at home in containers as in a vegetable patch, and come in lots of interesting varieties, including purple ones.

Radishes should be planted in early April, so any day now really – and you can continue growing them at three-week intervals until September to ensure a continual supply (they tend to taste woody and rubbish if you leave them in the soil too long, so pull them as soon as they start to poke their little pink – or indeed, purple – heads out of the soil).

Other than that, they’re very easy-going plants, who’s only real issue is disliking too much strong sun – think of them as the English rose of vegetables. They’ll go to seed in too much direct sunlight but this is easily avoided by planting them in the shadow of a pea or bean plant. The seedlings are also rather tempting for birds, so you may want to cover them with a cloche (made by cutting the top off a soft drink bottle) in case there’s an avian invasion.

Plant your radishes about half an inch deep, in  soil that’s been dug over and isn’t too stoney – if you’re doing multiple rows then space the rows nine inches apart. When the seedlings appear, thin them out to three inches apart. Then, other than watering them and waiting for them to grow, that’s it. As such, radishes are very kid-friendly as they grow quickly enough to maintain interest and are simple to tend.

You should have your first radishes ready to eat by May, along with lettuce, rocket and various herbs (assuming, of course, that you’ve planted any of these) so you can enjoy your first home grown salad of the summer in just a few weeks time if you get planting now.

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