Crisp, piquant, and slightly peppery, radishes are some of the easiest veggies to grow in a home garden. You can plant them in spring and in the fall. And because they are so fast growing, you can plant them over and over again throughout the growing season.
But how do you know when your homegrown radishes are ready for harvest? Radishes mature very quickly and some radish varieties will be ready to pick after only 3 weeks. But there are different types of radishes. While fast growing types can be picked after 20-40 days, the winter radish takes 50-60 days to mature.
How Do You Know When Your Radishes Are Ready to Harvest?
The information printed on radish seed packets will usually tell you how long your radish plants will take to grow and mature. These are good estimates, but the golden rule is to harvest early and often.
The type of radish you have planted in well draining soil will always dictate how long you should leave in the ground.
Whatever type it is, it will start to push out of the ground as it grows and matures. This is an excellent visual indicator.
But there are some basic ground rules as well.
Hot Weather Spring Radishes
Fast growing hot weather spring radishes, which can also be planted in late summer, will take between 20 and 40 days to mature. Winter radishes, which are usually planted in late summer and are cool weather plants generally mature in 50-60 days.
Because they grow so quickly, it’s a good idea to plant progressively, every couple of weeks. That way you will be able to harvest delicious homegrown radishes for months.
Don’t ever leave spring radishes in the ground too long. If you don’t harvest them when they are ready, they will get pithy, woody, and bitter.
Cool Weather Winter Radishes
Unlike spring radish plants, you can leave winter radish in the ground until about two weeks before the first frost date in the fall. They are much more forgiving!
Before you start harvesting in earnest, it’s always a good idea to pull out a couple of radishes to see if they are big enough to pull. For most varieties, the optimum size is about one inch (2.5 cm) in diameter, measured at the top of the radish as it pushes out of the ground.
Also, be aware that the longer you leave your radishes in the ground, the hotter they are likely to become. Hot’s okay for some people, but when they also get tough and pithy, it’s not okay.
So, don’t just look at them. Taste them as well.
The type of radish you plant will determine the time frame from planting to harvest. While the most recognizable radishes are the red radishes, usually Cherre Belle, that we commonly find in supermarkets, there are other shapes and colors too.
Here are some examples:
- Cherre Belle, an early spring variety, is a round red type with white flesh that matures in 22 days
- Easter Egg, another early spring variety, that has an oval shape, produces different colored radishes and matures in 25 days
- French Breakfast, which is heat-tolerant, is oblong with a red or white base that matures in 23 days
- China Rose, a winter radish that has white flesh and red skin that matures in 52 days
- Daikon, another winter radish popular Asian variety that is long and white with a mild flavor that matures in 60 days
What Happens If You Don’t Harvest Radishes?
If you don’t harvest the radishes you have planted you are simply going to miss out on the fruits of your vegetable gardening labor. But radishes are usually so prolific, it probably won’t bother you too much. There will be lots more where these came from next time around!
More importantly, you need to harvest your radishes when they are ready to eat. If you don’t harvest them in time, the radish root will become pithy and as temperatures increase, the radish plants will bolt and go to seed.
That said, if your radishes do go to seed, you can harvest the seeds and plant them in the next growing season. We’ve given you some guidelines below.
How to Harvest Radishes?
Just as radishes are one of the easiest vegetables to grow, they are also very easy to harvest. Essentially, all you need to do to harvest most radishes is to pull the roots out of the ground.
It really is that simple.
They are the perfect crop for kids to get involved in, even if they don’t immediately take to the bitey taste of radishes. It might grow on them – it might not!
The best time, once they are mature enough to harvest, is when the ground is moist, after rain or irrigation. If the ground is too dry, the green tops sometimes snap when you pull, and then you will need to dig them out with a spade or garden fork.
You will also need to use a small spade or fork to dig some of the large, slow-growing radishes. These include various Asian cultivars, all of which are winter radish varieties.
Because you don’t want to break the big roots, loosen the soil around them and then work them out gently. Some of the biggest Asian radishes weigh close to a pound when harvested, and they are cooked rather than eaten raw.
Either way, cut the root and stem from the radish before you wash and either eat or store it.
How to Harvest Radish Seeds
Some home gardeners enjoy harvesting seeds from their favorite plants for use during the next growing season. It’s certainly worth a try because you’ve got nothing to lose.
To harvest radish seeds, let a few of your radish plants keep growing so that they literally go to seed. They will produce flowers that will mature into seed pots once they have been pollinated.
From here on, the trick is to harvest the seeds at the right time, before the seed pods burst and the birds eat your previous seeds.
Stake the stems to keep the radish plants upright, and when the seed heads mature, cover them with lightweight cloth bags. Once they have dried, harvest the pods and keep them in a cool, dry place until the next growing season.
A word of warning. If you are going to harvest your own seeds so you can continue growing a favorite cultivar, only plant that particular radish variety. If different types of radish grow in your garden at the same time, they may cross-pollinate and lose the distinctive characteristics you value.
Should You Wash Radish after Harvesting?
Once you have harvested your winter or spring radishes, wash them thoroughly to get rid of soil and any other debris. Use garden snips to cut off the tops and trim the taproot before drying the radishes thoroughly.
Storing in the refrigerator in a plastic container will extend the life of spring radishes for at least a couple of weeks.
Can You Eat Radish Immediately after Harvesting?
Many people wonder whether they can eat radish immediately after harvesting. Of course, you can eat radishes immediately after you have harvested them!
Spring radishes are almost always eaten immediately after harvesting. But shop-bought radishes and those you have grown in your own veggie garden will keep for 2-4 weeks in the refrigerator.
While red radishes are commonly eaten whole, they are great sliced into salads, stir-fries, soups, and stews. They are also fabulous grated into slaws and potato salad straight from the garden.
Winter radishes, which include the Asian varieties, can be eaten immediately, but unlike spring radishes, they can also be stored for several months. Asian varieties are also commonly cooked rather than eaten raw.
You can sauté long radishes in butter and pickle some winter radish varieties. You can even marinate sliced radish in a mixture of vinegar, soy sauce, and honey to serve with Chinese food.
Crispy, crunchy radishes pack quite a punch, and when you pick them out of your own home garden there’s always something extra special to enjoy.
Different types have different possibilities. You can pick them straight out of the ground and munch them with a bit of salt, add them to salad, or, if you’ve grown winter radish, cook them as part of a very special Asian dish.
But the best part of growing radishes is that they are easy. They’re easy to plant, easy to grow, and incredibly easy to harvest.
There are a few golden rules and we’ve addressed these in our 2023 Planting Guide.
We’ve shared vital information on how to determine when your radishes are ready to harvest. We have also told you exactly how to harvest your radishes, and what will happen if you don’t harvest them.
Even if you don’t like radishes, they are so easy to grow, why not give them a try? You might even find a new favorite salad snack!