By: Susan Patterson, Master Gardener
Cultivating daikon in the garden is a great way to enjoy something a little different. Planting daikon radishes isn’t difficult and once you learn how to grow daikon radish plants, you’ll be able to enjoy them year round in warm climates or replant them each year in cooler regions.
A daikon is a Chinese radish (Raphanus sativus longipinnatus), also known as lobok and oriental radish. Daikon has large roots, and some of the biggest varieties can weigh up to 50 pounds (22.67 kg.). The most common types weigh from 1 to 2 pounds at maturity and can have up to a 2-foot (61 cm.) leaf spread.
Most people cook daikon radishes, but they can also be used in salads. Growing daikon radishes is a nutritious and enjoyable pursuit. These tasty radishes are low in calories and full of essential vitamins and nutrients. Daikon radishes are even grown year round in most parts of California and similar regions.
Cultivating daikon radishes is similar to growing traditional radish varieties only they generally need more space and more time to mature.
Radishes require full sun to part shade and regular water in order to thrive. Install drip irrigation for best results and put a 1-inch (2.5 cm.) layer of mulch around plants to conserve moisture.
Radishes also grow best in temperatures below 80 F. (27 C.)
In spring, you can plant these radishes as soon as you can work the soil. Continual planting every 10 to 14 days will ensure successive crops.
As with other radishes, growing daikon radishes are good to plant in places where you will put warm season crops such as peppers, tomatoes or squash.
If you want mature radishes in the spring, you can also plant them in the winter with the use of a cold frame or some other means of protection, unless you live in a temperate climate.
Place the seeds ¾ inch (1.9 cm.) deep and 6 inches (15 cm.) apart. Leave 3 feet (.9 m.) between rows to allow for mature spread. The plants will mature within 60 to 70 days.
Now that you know more about how to grow daikon radish plants in the garden, why not give them a try and enjoy these tasty crops.
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Radish is a cool-season crop. Radishes are best grown in spring and fall.
Direct sow radishes in the garden 6 to 3 weeks before the last frost in spring. Sow succession crops every 3 weeks after.
Growing tip: Shorter and cooler days result in radishes with rounder roots. For mild and tender roots, grow radishes rapidly with plenty of moisture in soil rich in aged compost. When growth is interrupted by lack of soil moisture, radish roots will be hot, tough, and pithy.
Radishes mature in 21 to 35 days depending on the variety.
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Not sure that letting it go to seed would be of benefit if it's a hybrid, but you could certainly try it. I let a good landrace variety set seeds and for the past several years I haven't even seeded radishes . I just thin out whatever sprouts. I find it very difficult to grow radishes here any other way. Our climate is just so very indecisive and contrary!
Newest Interest: Rock Gardens
If you'd like some of the radish seeds I'm growing, just shoot me a mail. I'm pretty sure I haven't given away all I collected yet.
Newest Interest: Rock Gardens
The pods were delicately spicy and delicious. Try eating some of your young seed pods!
Mine were Daikon Radish 'Minowase' OP from Hazards. Raphanus sativus
"Japanese Winter type, Pure white, 16" x 3" smooth, uniform, crispy, juicy flesh, low pungency, sow summer or fall, 52 days "
I think I planted mine in the spring, which was the worst time.
I left some pods on the ground and a few came back, here and there, for two years.
The subsequent volunteers apparently "knew" when they should germinate and grow. They developed big white roots, but they were too hot for me. They sprouted and drilled into pretty hard clayey soil, but their shoulders always stood above ground.
I would let the Daikon radishes bolt and eat some pods, but save lots of seed. If you plan to use them as "tillage radishes" for heavy clay, I bet they do great (sown at the right time).
Here are a few slow-bolting Bok Choy that might last longer in heat.
Can you start yours any earlier? I dont do this, but we are supoosed to be able to direct-sow many Bok Choy before the last frost.
Most Brassicas and Bok Chois are cold-tolerant but not heat-tolerant. When they bolt, they are violating their prime directive, since they are "really" biennials that "should" not go to seed until next year.
50 DTM - tolerates high heat - (semi-heading, broad mid-rib, looks
like Chinese cabbage)
Another way to handle a mis-match between your springtime and Bok Choy's preferences is to save a LOT of seed, even if it might be cross-pollinated.
In fall or spring, broadcast-sow it very thickly and then harvest it at the baby leaf or micro-green stage before it can even think about bolting.
The baby leaves can be used raw in salad, like spinach, or in sandwiches, or as a garnish.
Since Bok Choy is usually easy and Chinese cabbage can be fussy, maybe you could try a few Napa or Michihli cabbages next spring, just in case they surprise you.
Radishes are best grown from seed sown directly in your garden. They don’t transplant well and grow quickly from seed, so there’s really no reason to start them indoors.
It’s important to pick the right type of radish for the season.
Spring radishes are probably the most popular variety of radish because they mature quickly, usually in 3-4 weeks.
Despite the name, you can sow them either in spring or fall.
There are two main types of spring radishes: round and long. Round varieties are small and globe-shaped. ‘Cherry Belle‘ is a classic round spring radish and ‘Champion’ is a hardy and quick-maturing choice. Try ‘Easter Egg’ for a mix of purple, red, and white radishes.
Long or cylindrical radishes grow about 3-4” long. A popular choice for this type is ‘French Breakfast.’ This variety is red at the top and white on the bottom and does better in hotter weather than other varieties. I love growing French Breakfast radishes in containers in the spring.
Winter radishes are the second option. They take longer to mature but are larger and starchier than spring radishes and usually have a stronger (though not necessarily spicier) flavor.
This type needs to be sown in late summer or early fall, since they won’t reach maturity in time if planted in the spring. Popular winter varieties include daikon radish, ‘Watermelon’, ‘Black Spanish’, and ‘Red Meat’.
Do not plant fall radishes in the spring – the weather will be too hot before they are mature.
(Best months for growing Daikon in Australia - temperate regions)
A long white radish, milder flavour than the small round or oval radishes. Most varieties of Daikon prefer cooler weather. Have a tendency to 'bolt' or flower early in warm/hot weather. Choose a variety to suit your climate. Grow in deep soil and water regularly. They will grow as big as large parsnips if left but the best flavour seems to be when they are about the size of a carrot.
Can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks if washed and dried and the leaves cut off.
A range of varieties of Daikon is available, some will do better in warm areas.
Daikon radish can be eaten simmered, stir fried, grated, pickled or baked. Its leaves are also edible and can be used in recipes that call for turnip greens, and its seeds make sprouts to eat in salads or in sandwiches.
Growing radishes is an opportunity to get food on the table in a hurry. In the Orient, where radishes are prized, radishes are grown and used in different ways. That's particularly true of the daikon radish, which is much-loved by the Japanese.
Daikon radishes aren’t immediately recognizable as a radish if you’re thinking of a spicy-tasting, round, red globe to eat raw in salads. First, the daikon is white. Second, it’s shaped more like a carrot. Third, it can grow quite large. The flavor is mild, with just a hint of bite. Finally, daikon is one of the radishes that can be served in cooked form.
Native to southeast Asia, the name daikon means “big root” in Japanese. You’ll see daikon radishes all over the Orient as well as India. It is used in many oriental cuisines. In the US, where it is called “oilseed radish,” the daikon radish is more likely to be commercially grown as a fallow crop to prevent soil compaction.
In addition to the large white daikon radish, there are several other varieties. Not all are named.
Like all radishes, daikon likes cool temperatures, although the Chinese variety can tolerate higher temperatures. It can be sown in spring or early fall. In the spring it should be sown four to six weeks prior to the expected last frost date. Plant seeds about ½ to one inch deep. Plant slightly deeper as weather becomes warmer.
Like all radishes, daikon likes lots of phosphorus and not too much nitrogen. Use aged manure, leaf mulch or compost to add humus plus bone meal or rock phosphate. If growing to eat, loose friable soil is best so the roots have room to grow. Your soil must be at least 20 inches deep. For soil improvement, the texture of the soil is less important.
You can take advantage of the daikon’s thick, long root if you have heavy clay or compacted soil. Let them grow until well past the eating stage. They’ll be too tough for human food, although chickens and farm animals like them. However, they’ll leave holes and “breathing space” in the area where they grew, which improves the soil.