PERHAPS my memory is fogged, or maybe my tastebuds have been damaged by decades of abuse, but most radishes today seem a taste shadow of what they were...

I recall those from the garden or the greengrocer in my youth were fiery little devils.

In reality what has caused the change is not just my wizened buds, but the introduction of much milder varieties that complement and don’t dominate the salad bowl.

Radish is a crop often overlooked in the veg patch, but it has its place because it is easy to grow and, if planted by children, they can get results in just a month. Essential that.

It’s best to sow radish seeds little and often, for small but continuous harvests. I, like most gardeners, plant too many in a go. It should be obvious that there’s a limit to the amount of summer salads it’s possible to scoff...

Remember, radishes are best eaten young while they are still tender and juicy, not fibrous, tough and bitter.

Sow outdoors, in the place they are to grow, not necessarily in the ground but in containers or even a spent growing bag refreshed with some new compost. Sow seeds in short drills, half-an-inch deep and about the same distance apart. They are good germinators if kept moist.

Early crops can be sown as early as February into soil pre-warmed with polythene and protected with cloches. Summer cultivars can be sown from March to mid-August.

Winter varieties should be sown thinly in July or August spacing seeds five inches, or so, apart because these cultivars are much larger.

Keep the soil moist to ensure rapid growth for fleshy, tasty roots that don’t split. This can be tricky in hot or dry weather, so take care to water regularly to enjoy a taste of summer, or winter.

  • Top Tips: Slugs and snails especially love the young leaves. Beer traps are the best solution.
  •  Summer radish can be used as row markers for slow-germinating crops, such as parsnip and onions, or as a ‘catch crop’. Being quick-maturing they can be harvested before they get in the way of the main crop.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Richard's French breakfast radishes.

Summer varieties:

French Breakfast 3: Produces a reliable crop of attractive, blush red, cylindrical roots with a white tip. Quick maturing and ideal for window boxes and containers.

Scarlet Globe AGM: Bright red skin, white fleshed, globe-shaped roots. Ready to crop in about three weeks after sowing. Over 100 years old. Mild flavour if picked young.

Sparkler AGM: Medium-sized roots coloured pink with a white base. Reliable, easy and fast to mature.

Winter varieties:

Mooli: Pure white, very long, crispy fleshed mild radish. Can grow up to 18 inches long. Can be lifted and stored.

Black Spanish AGM: Has tough black skin and sharp flavoured white flesh. Can be sown in spring, but will crop in winter if sown in July/August. Roots can be 2ins in diameter.

China Rose: Medium to large oblong-shaped roots with rose pink skin and pure white flesh this 170-year-old variety has a slightly pungent taste.


  • Start winter cabbage seeds off in a greenhouse or cold frame now as they require a long growing season.
  • There’s still time to grow runner and French beans — sow them directly in the ground now.
  • Sow beetroot, Swiss chard and spinach thinly, directly into the plot.
  • Sow forget-me-nots, foxgloves, sweet williams and wallflowers in seed trays now, for colour next year.
  • Nasturtiums are easy to grow in containers or from direct sowings, and quick to flower — use them in beds, containers, baskets and the vegetable plot. They bloom best in not too rich a medium.
  • Nigella seeds can be scattered in your borders now for some striking blue late-summer colour.
  • Grow the tallest sunflower from direct sowings outdoors — great fun for the kids. Try Russian Giant.
  • It’s not too late to direct sow calendula, candytuft, clarkia, larkspur and limnanthes for a show of flowers later this summer.


Congratulations to Susan Dobbs from Seaview and all who contributed to the rarest of beasts in these times — a National Gardens’ Scheme opening.

A total of 280 visitors paid £5 to see her Salterns garden and that at the nearby Red Cross. Refreshments and generous donations raised an impressive £1,818 to support NGS nominated charities.

Sue summed up the day: “In ten years I have never known such interested gardeners aged 14 to 98. It was a joy to share our knowledge after our Covid isolation.”

I am always happy to publicise garden openings.

Are you an Isle of Wight gardener with a question for Richard? If so, you can email him on