Radishes come in a large range of lengths, shapes, sizes, and colors that span the spectrum of red, pink, yellow, white, and even grey or black. Their roots can be rounded or long, and they can be quite small or grow even larger than carrots and parsnips.
To characterize the different types of radishes, they are mostly distinguished by the season they’re grown in and their size and color.
Spring – The most traditional and easy to grow radishes are spring or summer radishes. Spring radishes are quick to grow (usually only three weeks) and can be planted in cool weather and even before the last frost. They are often called European radishes. Spring radishes don’t taste very good when they become over-grown and they don’t over-winter very well.
Summer – Similar to spring radishes, these are quick-growing radishes that can be re-sowed all season, but tolerate slightly more heat than spring radishes. However, even summer radishes will struggle in a long, hot summer. In general, summer radishes aren’t always distinguished as such because they overlap so many traits with spring radishes, but those marked as heat-tolerant are what are considered summer radishes.
Winter – Winter radishes take a little longer to grow, generally 50 to 60 days, but are more winter-hardy. The popular Daikon radish is a winter radish, and there are many different types of Daikon radish. The April-Cross variety is most popular and is white with smooth white roots. One type of hot winter radish is the Sakurajima which can grow up to 66 pounds.
Seed Pod – Radish seeds grow in pods known as siliques. Some radishes are grown specifically for their seed pods and not their roots or leaves. Once the radish bolts and flowers, these pods begin to form and the seeds can be added to salads and as garnish. The Rat-Tailed radish is an example that originated in East Asia that has long, curly pods that can grow up to a foot long and can be eaten or pickled. In Germany, the München Bier radish is served with beer.
While it’s not an unbreakable rule, the general difference between spring/summer and winter radishes is that winter radishes tend to be long and rounded and white, green, or black. Spring/summer radishes come in all shapes and sizes but tend to be brighter colors like red, pink, or purple (and white too).
You’ll find plenty of variety of radish seeds available at seed companies and garden centers. Ask your local extension center which type of radish is best suited for your gardening needs.
Which type of radishes have you grown? Do you have a preference? Please share your opinion.