When the days are long in June, we start to see the benefits of the vegetable garden. Fresh greens, baby beets, the first herbs of the season, and radishes. They grow so fast, some people plant radish and carrot seeds as companions in the same row, because the fast-growing radishes break the soil for the slender carrot seedlings. Usually, by the time the carrots grow to any size the radishes are already long gone.
But if you let your radish plants grow further, or if they just get away from you and grow tall, you'll find a tasty surprise in July! Radish pods are delicious, easy to grow, and sadly unappreciated.
The usual way to grow summer radishes is to plant them in the cool season of the spring, and to give them plenty of water. If they grow slowly, and with consistent moisture, the roots will be ready to eat in only 25 to 30 days, and they'll be mild, juicy, and delicious. Too much heat, or dry soil, will make them tougher, hotter, and sometimes dry inside. There are other kinds of long-season, or "winter" radishes that take much longer to grow. They tend to be a bit more tolerant of heat, but they also grow best in cool, moist conditions.
Normally, you would harvest your radishes only four weeks after seeding. If you don't, they will grow stems that reach up to a meter in height. Like all plants, radishes have a flower, and once they start to grow flower stems, the roots toughen, dry out, and take on a harsh flavour. Most people pull them before this point, but if they are left, something else will happen.
Pretty, four-petalled flowers will grow in clusters of pink or white, two or three weeks after the flower stems start to grow. Then the flowers form green pods. When those pods are just an inch long, they're tender, crispy, and juicy, with a mildly radish spice. Pick them at this stage, because in a few days they'll start to dry out and harden, as they begin to form seeds.