Sow for early use in hotbeds during the winter and early spring or later on in sheltered borders in well manured, deeply-dug and finely-raked soil to promote quick growth. Sowing between peas or beans is a good plan as this helps to keep the roots cool. Sow thinly 1 in. deep in drills, 10 in. apart, and thin to 2 in. in the rows. Thinning is very important and where radishes are all tops with small, thin roots, overcrowding is usually the explanation. Protect from birds. Sow at intervals of 2 weeks, March to July for succession; in the north make the first sowing at the end of March. Note that they are usually only in really good condition, I.e. tasty and in no way coarse or stringy, for about 10 days. Choose the variety French Breakfast for the earlier sowings as this dislikes dry conditions but will go ahead rapidly in cooler spring weather. Scarlet Globe is good for later sowings as it is rather more tolerant of drought. (Do not let radishes become dry at any stage of growth, otherwise the roots will be hot and unappetising.) Icicle is another popular kind with 3 in. long tapering roots, pure white and sweet. It is usually ready about 20 days after sowing but like French Breakfast dislikes very hot weather and should not be sown after early June.

Among the winter radishes (which are generally very strongly flavoured) China Rose can be recommended (Black Spanish has a rather hot taste). The long, blunt-ended roots are about 5 in. long, colour bright rose with white flesh. In mild districts winter radishes can be left in the open ground and pulled as needed, otherwise lift in November before severe frost and store in sand in a cool shed or cellar. The somewhat hard flesh is best sliced for salads. China Rose and similar varieties should be sown in July or August, thinning to about 6 in. apart (wider than for spring and summer sowings). A top-dressing of ‘Nitro-Chalk’ or sulphate of ammonia is helpful if given in early September, as this encourages vigorous growth so that the plants have made real headway long before winter.

Flea beetle (turnip fly) is often a nuisance with May sowings. See TURNIP for control measures.

Radishes under Cloches:

Sow on either side of a row of peas or in the same drills as lettuces and onions (the radishes, being rapid growers, will be ready before the other crops are really pushing ahead). February is an excellent month for sowing to ensure early spring yields. By sowing at various times radishes can be pulled from September to late May. Choose varieties like Scarlet Globe and French Breakfast which are quick maturing.

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