Last week, I received a few e-mails about growing radish seed. Here are a few radishy answers for those questions. Also, I have been pruning lettuce leaves to increase ventilation.
These radishes have begun to bloom. These are grown 2 rows/bed with 18″ in-row spacing. They seem to be smaller plants than some other radishes I’ve grown out. They might still bulk up, but I wonder if I could have planted them tighter.
I grow spring radishes (as opposed to winter storage radishes) as annuals:
- We seed them densely and harvest a few weeks later.
- Emily (Tourne-Sol radish buncher extraordinaire) selects those she likes by their for roots, stems and so forth. The rest go to market.
- I haven’t tried this but Greta has told me to then put the roots in a bucket full of water and discard the floaters (too pithy!).
- I top the chosen radishes and stash them in the fridge for 7-10 days. This simulates overwintering and gets the radishes to bolt at the same time.
- I then transplant the radish stecklings (roots) to the field.
To successfully grow radishes as annuals for seed, I have discovered they need to be started as early as possible. I found that when I seeded in early that after fridge time and stecklings getting established in the ground, the radishes only bolt in late July – doesn’t leave much time for plants to flower and set seed before fall rain.
This year we seeded radishes in a tunnel in late March to get an additional month of seed growing potential.
You can read more about radishes in Principles and Practices of Organic Radish Seed Production from the Organic Seed Alliance. (Dowload the document free from their website.)
The lettuce plants I transplanted at the beginning of April are turning into leafy monsters. I went in on Monday and took off the outer leaves to let the air in. My continuous fear with lettuce is that it suddenly turns to jelly.
Red Iceberg lettuce. The two first rows have been cleaned up. Compare with the lettuce jungle in the back rows.
As I do this, I rogue out any slimy specimens.
I try to handle lettuce on a sunny windy day so the exposed plant stems can dry and heal before submitted to more damp overcast weather.
All this pruning creates a lot of leafy biomass.
Luckily, I have a few helpers who love to process such tender biomass.