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'Rat tail' radish pods and plants grown on the USask Rooftop Vegetable Garden.
  1. Radishes are usually eaten for their roots, but the leaves are edible too. Some cultivars are grown for their seed pods, which are harvested green, young and tender and can be eaten raw, cooked or pickled. 
  2. Since radish is related to canola, it is also prone to a number of insect problems. Row covers are recommended to keep pests at bay. 
  3. Radishes are best direct seeded into the garden or in containers.  Because of the intense insect pressure on brassicas in the prairies, some of the plants will be lost to insect damage, unless row covers are used.
  4. Radishes can grow from seed to maturity in as little as 45 days, making them ideal for succession planting starting in early spring until the heat of July. Do another planting in mid to late August for a final fall crop. 
  5. Mix a small amount of radish seeds with other seeded crops like carrots, parsnips, leafy greens or beets. Radishes sprout more quickly which makes it easier to see the row. When you harvest young radishes this has the effect of thinning your other crops.
  6. Radishes can also be interplanted between rows of taller vegetables such as peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, corn, squash or others. Radishes will be ready to harvest before these other plants are large enough to shadow them.



Radishes are classified as brassica vegetables (cole crops) and belong to the mustard family of plants. These Brassicaceae plants were formerly classified as cruciferous plants.  ‘Cruciferous’ because the petals of the flowers of these crops form a cross. 

Brassica vegetables include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts, radish, turnip, rutabaga, Chinese cabbage, mustard greens and mustard cabbage (bok choi or pak choi). Since all of these plants share a recent common ancestor, they all have very similar growing recommendations and problems.

While they are quite similar, there are some key differences to ensure best success so we've broken these into separate articles for easier instruction.

Radishes are high in vitamins A, C, K, B6, folate, pantothenic acid and fibre. Check here for detailed information from the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. Harvard School of Public Health recommends eating them no more than once a week.

The Canadian Food Guide recommends that roughly half of the food on your plate should be fruits and vegetables.

Canada Food Guide: What's On Your Plate?

Growing outdoors

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Radishes grow best in well-draining, moist soil. You can improve your soil's ability to hold moisture by adding organic matter such as compost or aged, composted manure. Do not use fresh manure as a soil additive. If you think your soil needs remediation, see our Soils and soilless mixes page for detailed advice.

Radishes prefer full sun to produce well but can tolerate part shade. They will not be successful in very shady areas.

Radishes can be grown outdoors in the ground, be it in raised beds or unraised/ground level gardens if the soil is suitable. They can be grown in containers, both outdoors or indoors. Indoor containers of radishes would benefit from additional lighting.

They are not typically suitable for most hydroponic, straw bale, or other alternative growing methods.

Radishes are best seeded directly into the garden or in a container. Growing radishes from transplants is not necessary or practical.  




Radishes can be direct seeded into the garden starting in early spring. Radishes do not need to be grown as transplants.

Since radishes grow to maturity in as little as 45 days, try succession planting. Seed a row of radishes directly into the garden in early spring, another row 2 - 3 weeks later and again 2 - 3 weeks after that. See: Succession planting video

Since radishes tend to bolt in hot weather, avoid seeding in July to mid August. However, you can seed radishes again in late August for a fall crop. See: Fall seeding

Planting instructions

  • Direct seed radishes 1 cm (½') deep, 2.5 cm (1") apart, in rows spaced 30 cm (12") apart. Thin to about 5 cm (2") apart for high quality roots. Use the thinings in salads.
  • Keep newly seeded radishes evenly moist to speed germination. 

Don't forget to label what you planted. It's helpful to draw a map to help you track planting locations and success each year. This information is critical if you're rotating your vegetables  to help prevent insect and disease issues.

Brassicas tend to attract cabbage moths and flea beetles. If you're planning to stay pesticide-free, it's important to use row covers to prevent insect damage. This is especially critical if you're located near canola fields. Row covers should be installed very soon after planting, long before the insects arrive.

If you have had a lot of insect problems in your garden in past growing years, try growing radishes in containers in a soil-less medium like peat or coir with vermiculite and/or perlite. Fertilize with a water-soluble fertilizer formulated for vegetables and mixed according to the instructions on the package every week.

Radish types:

  • Radish cultivars are available in many root forms (round, cylindrical) and in colours including red, pink, purple and white. Any would work in a prairie or far north garden. 
  • Another radish is the "Rat tail radish", so named because it produces numerous long, bumpy-looking seed pods. The pods are harvested green, young and tender and can be eaten raw, cooked or pickled. We have grown them on the Usask Rooftop vegetable garden in containers, where they did very well.
  • Daikon radishes are large, peppery radishes commonly used in Asian cuisine.

Here are cultivar recommendations from the North Dakota State University Cultivar Trials, as they share a similar prairie climate and soils. You may download their list here: North Dakota State University Vegetable Cultivar Recommendations for 2021

    • Amethyst, Bacchus, Champion, Cherry Belle, Easter Egg II, French Breakfast, Pretty in Pink, Red Head, Rover, Roxanne, Sora, White Icicle

The following cultivars are recommendations from the University of Saskatchewan vegetable program field trials which were conducted from 1989 through 2016. Although this information is no longer current, some may find it useful.

  • Brio, Easter Egg, Fireball, French Breakfast, Galahad, Mister Red, Monica, Poker, Raxe, Rebel, Sora. SRA 4504

  • Actively growing radishes prefer 2.5cm moisture/week in well-drained soils.
  • Radishes do best with regular water. It can be grown most years without additional water though you can expect smaller plants and a more pungent flavour as a result. Water will affect yields, so if you're using more intensive growing methods you will need to water.
  • Pick weeds as they appear, especially those in the Brassicaceae family which attract the same insects: common pepper-grass, shepherd's purse, stinkweed, Argentine canola, ball mustard, dog mustard, flixweed, Polish canola, wild mustard and wild radish. 
  • To reduce weeding, apply a thick layer of mulch on top of the soil around your plants.
Radishes can be fall seeded. See: Fall seeding

Radishes can be direct seeded in the far north.


Forgot what you planted? Not sure if it's a weed? Germination in broccoli

See our preservation section for more videos.

Growing in containers

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Radishes are ideal candidates for container growing, whether indoors or out. 

If growing indoors, supplementary light is beneficial.

Any of the radish cultivars listed in our recommended cultivar section would grow well in containers, with the exception of the larger daikon or winter radish cultivars.

Saving seeds

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Seeds are expected to be shelf-stable for one year from date of sale if purchased from a reputable retailer. If you wish to save your seeds beyond that, you should store them in the fridge in a jar. Seeds lose viability quickly if they dry out too much or get too warm.

The life expectancy of radish seed stored under favourable conditions is about four years.

Seeds stored under less favourable conditions will show poor germination after just a single year of storage. Beyond this, you can expect your germination rates to go down (ie. not all of your seeds will grow, but some might). To test your seeds, you can do a simple germination test. Follow the link for instructions. If you are still getting some seeds germinating, seed more thickly and thin any extra.

Seeds can be saved from open-pollinated or heritage type radish plants. Hybrid radish seeds will not be the same as the plant from which the seeds were harvested. 

Radishes are either annual or biennials depending on the variety. Radishes are normally harvested young for the best roots, however, radishes can be left to grow until flower stalks appear. This happens more easily in hot weather. 

To save seeds, select one or two plants to flower and produce seed pods. Seed is ready to harvest when about 70% of the seed pods turn from green-yellow to brown colour and are papery thin and light. Remove the pods and spread them on a tray and set aside in a warm dark place to dry. The pods should be completely brittle which can take up to 2 weeks depending on temperature and humidity. 

Crush the seeds using gloved hands. Another way is to lay a clean tea towel on top of a tray of pods and use a rolling pin to crush them. Place the contents in a large bowl and shake. The seeds tend to settle in  the bottom of the bowl. Remove as much of the chaff as possible, but don't worry if you can't remove all of it. 

Place the seeds in an envelope and label and date. Place the envelope in a sealed jar and store in the fridge.



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Check your seed package for days to maturity. 

Radishes can be harvested when they reach the desired size, but are best when they are about 3 cm in diameter. Older, larger radishes tend to become woody and more pungent in taste. Over-mature radishes may also be hollow in the centre. 

If you are harvesting the tops, the younger leaves are the most tender with the best flavour. Either harvest the tops along with the roots or cut 2 - 3 leaves from each plant. 



Simply pull radishes from the soil. If soil is hard, it helps to water 2 days before harvesting. Use a fork to loosen soil around radishes to make it easier to pull.

If you are harvesting the tops, the younger leaves are the most tender with the best flavour. Either harvest the tops along with the roots or cut 2 - 3 leaves from each plant. 

It's best to harvest radishes early in the day and to store in a cool place right away.



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Radishes can be stored in the refrigerator for a few weeks to a month (see below for details). If you're hoping to store them longer than a month, you will need to use other preservation methods such as freezing, fermentingcanning or drying.

  • The ideal storage conditions is near 0˚C with high humidity. Your fridge is likely a few degrees warmer than this, but it will work as long as you manage the humidity.
  • To maintain adequate but not excessive humidity either poke a few holes in your bag (ok), or use a plastic bag meant for vegetables (better), or keep a few sheets of paper towel in the bag with them and switch the paper towels for new ones once they become too moist (best).
  • For detailed advice on other potential spaces or methods, see our cold storage page.

Cooking and preserving

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Coming soon


Dehydrating Cabbage

Alternative ways to eat common vegetables



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Radishes require good, consistent growing conditions. Providing their water, light and soil needs are managed they don't tend to get a lot of issues.

Ensuring that you maintain healthy soil with adequate organic matter and use row covers to prevent insect problems will go a long way towards preventing most issues.

Hot temperatues can cause them to bolt.

Too much nitrogen fertilizer can cause broccoli to produce leafy growth at the expense of flowerbuds and/or cause hollow roots.

See the Common problems tab on this page for advice on other specific broccoli issues.


Common questions