Fruit and Vegetables

Radish - Brassica

Radish - Brassica

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The radish

The radish originating in the areas of China and Japan is mainly cultivated for the roots, the edible part, which can be of different colors (red, white, green), shape and size. It is an annual, with a very short vegetative cycle. The aerial part is presented with quite small lobed leaves covered by a hair on the upper page. At the base of the plant, however, the leaves are smaller and petiolate. The insignificant flowers, of a purplish white color grouped together, bloom 3 months after sowing and from these, dark red siliqua fruits are formed.
The cultivation of radishes is rather simple: it can be a starting point for novice ortolan. However, it is a root that gives satisfaction even to the most expert thanks to the large number of varieties available on the market. Some have been known for a long time in Italy, others are new, since they come from the East, and find new culinary uses. Given the small size it is possible to grow radishes both in the open field, and in medium-sized containers, on the balcony or on the terrace.

General characteristics of the radish

The raphaus sativus is an annual herbaceous plant or at most a biennial belonging to the Brassicaceae family. The brassica is characterized by a very rapid growth to the point that between the sowing and the harvest can pass even only 4 weeks. What is consumed is the root, which has a fleshy consistency and takes on the most varied forms: from round to elongated. Even the colors and sizes of the various types of brassica are more variable. They range from white to red to purple to yellow. The most contained varieties produce roots with a diameter of 2-3 cm, but there are some that can grow up to more than a meter in overall length. The epigeal apparatus is formed by the leaves, lobed and pelosette on the upper page. The basal ones, on the other hand, are smaller and oval in shape. The flowers, which are rarely seen in cultivation, develop when the plant reaches maturity (about 3 or 4 months after sowing). They are formed by four purple and / or white petals. Over time they evolve into siliqua fruits (green to brown in color) each containing at least two seeds.

The radish in a nutshell
leaf color medium green
flower color from white to lilac
vegetation annual-biennial
height from 15 to 40 cm
cultivation simple
water requirement important
growth quick (15 to 60 days)
propagation sowing
rusticitа very cold resistant
exposure sun-shade
utilization vegetable garden, balcony, terrace
ground rich, well drained, neutral to slightly alkaline pH


The sowing of brassica specimens can be done indoors (in a cold greenhouse) or uncovered depending on the variety we choose and the period. For those who want to always have radishes at their disposal, it is advisable to sow seeds every 2 weeks starting in January and ending in October.
To get the best from the radish, the plant should be sown anyway in the period from February to July. In the first two months, the sowing must be carried out in a protected place, while in the following months it can be carried out outdoors, both in the field and in rows. In the first case, the seed should be distributed as evenly as possible on the ground, avoiding spreading the seed too thickly, because this would prevent the growth of many plants. In row sowing, on the other hand, it is advisable to leave 7-8 cm of distance between one row and another, to favor the growth of the roots. In both cases it is advisable to make a thinning of the plant leaving only the most vigorous.

Indoor sowing

Indoor sowing for brassica takes place from January to April. You need to choose an area that is sunny for the whole day, so that the ground can accumulate a lot of heat. Alternatively it can be sown on a warm lettor and then transferred (by replacing them or by transferring them from alveolar trays) to a greenhouse.
The seeds are placed on the field or in rows (about 15 cm apart). We cover with light soil and compress, without exaggerating. We vaporize abundantly and repeat several times in the days to come. We cover with a sheet of non-woven fabric to be removed as soon as we see some leaflets. Germination is rather rapid (it takes about 5 days).
When the seedlings have emitted the second leaf they thin out leaving also 15 cm between one and the other in the column.


This essence, given the speed of growth, can also be sown among other vegetables with a longer growing cycle. The plant fears very high temperatures and droughts: for this reason it is advisable to water frequently. The lack of water usually also makes the roots very bitter and spicy. To prevent the soil from drying out too quickly it is always necessary to keep it clear of weeds that contribute to the absorption of water and mineral salts.

Radish story

Radish is known in Europe and Asia since ancient times. There are hints of this crop already in the writings of Pliny the Elder, but it was already known even by the Egyptians. The Romans spread brassica throughout Europe through their conquests.

Sowing in the ground

After digging in depth and then shredding and adjusting the soil we trace furrows about 15 cm apart and let the seeds fall, possibly not too close together. We cover with a light layer of very soft soil and we irrigate abundantly but gently, trying not to move it.
When the seedlings are ticked we will also deal in this case with thinning them, always leaving 15 cm between one and the other. We water abundantly in case of lack of rainfall.
Often the cultivation of various types of brassica is done by sowing among the rows of lettuces. The two crops combine perfectly.

Radish approaches and consociations

The radishes associate very well with salads, peas, beans and cabbage. Traditionally, as they have said, it is associated with lettuce or watercress. It seems that the taste takes advantage of this proximity, becoming less spicy.

Crop care

The rapanello does not need too much care.
Just remember that it is extremely important to irrigate frequently to keep the substrate cool. Plants grown on too dry soil will have hard and extremely spicy roots.
It will then be necessary to intervene with a certain regularity to eliminate weeds.
In winter, to promote growth and maintain soil moisture, it is important to mulch the surface thoroughly with straw, leaves or other insulating material.

Collection of radishes

The harvest of radishes starts from 15 to 20 days after sowing, for the early species, while it may be necessary to wait even 50 days for the later ones. It is good to collect all the subjects in the shortest possible time because the more they remain in the ground, the more they risk losing their crunchiness and take on an unpleasant taste. On average, 15 kg of roots can be harvested every 10 square meters of cultivated area.

Radish preservation

It is preferable to consume radishes in the shortest possible time after harvest. In fact, over time they tend to become soft and lose taste.
In winter, however, it is possible to keep them longer, in a cellar or in a slightly damp place, perhaps immersed in the sand. In this way they remain compact longer.

Diseases of radishes

These roots are little threatened both by pests and by other types of diseases, also thanks to the very short growth times.
However, it can happen, in very rare cases, that they become prey to the grillotalpa, the aphids, the noctu and the altica (which pierces the younger leaves making salad consumption unattractive).
Among the cryptogams we can report downy mildew and white rust. It also happens sometimes to see plants affected by the mosaic virus.

Radish variety

The different varieties of radish are essentially distinguished by the shape of the root (round, oblong, elongated), for its external color (red, white, yellow, purple) and for the period of maturation. In Italy the most well-known are the Saxa characterized by a round root and red rind and very early seeding. Among the early ones we also point out the great red olive with an oblong root and fiery red rind. Among the late mediums it is very interesting Lungo, a white candle.

Radish - Brassica: Use in the kitchen and organoleptic properties

The radish, in the western kitchen, has a rather restricted use. It is an element that is typically found in mixed salads or summer pinzimonio. A good technique to make it more crunchy is to put the roots in ice water for a few hours before using them. They will be better and easier to cut according to our needs.
To make it more digestible it is advisable to season it with plenty of lemon juice.
It can also be cooked by sautéing it with butter or by placing it in vegetable minestrone. It is very appreciated for its spicy and slightly bitter taste that manages to give more character to a large number of dishes. Even the young leaves can be used both raw and cooked
In the East, the seeds that are pressed are also used to make a spicy oil that can be used in minimal quantities to flavor vegetables, meat and fish.
The radish is very suitable for low-calorie diets, since it provides only 11 calories per hectare of product. It contains a great deal of water, but it is also a good source of B vitamins, vitamin C and other mineral salts.
Watch the video

The radish calendar
sowing From January to October, depending on the varieties; sow scalar
flowering From May to October
collection From March to November depending on the varieties