Biennials: Readying Radishes and Turnips To Replant

A week and a half I ago,  my overwintered brassica roots came out of the cold room for inspection.  Let’s look at

  • Storage conditions
  • Roots that stored best
  • Roots that stored less than perfect
  • Curing roots before planting.

Storage conditions

These roots were harvested last September. I selected the best individuals to bear seed. The roots were stored in our cold room. During the summer,  an evaporator and compressor keep the cold room around 4C. During the winter we use a little heater to keep the room from freezing.

The roots are stored in plastic bags with holes. This maintains good humidity levels for the roots. I always identify root bags that are for seed.

And I also add ‘for seed’ labels. This keeps important roots out of winter salads and snacks.

Some Roots Look Great: Black Radishes & Turnips

A bit of sprouting.

And some rooting.

These turnips want to get planted.

Some Roots Need Some Work: Watermelon Radishes

I’ve had more of a problem getting these guys through the winter. Last year I planted out a bunch of roots but within a month they’d all rotted in the field.

So this year I took more time to inspect the roots.

Many of these radishes have rotten taproot tips.

I trimmed the rotten portions from the taproot.

Other radishes have blemishes on the actual roots. I consider composting these radishes but I also want to plant out as many roots as possible so …

I cut off the rotten portion of the root.

In some radishes the rot runs a little deep. These root were not saved.

Radishes post surgery. These gaping wounds will be let to cure before planting them in the ground.

I use a sharp knife to operate on these radishes. I disinfect the blade after each root with rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle. This minimizes spreading disease.


Now I let the roots sit at ambient temperatures for a week or so.

They are placed in clean flats with a lot of space for air circulation.

This should help wounds cure and might make the transition from cold room to ground smoother.

I’ve since planted the roots. Now I wait …

In the meantime, you can always read some of my other turnip and radish seed posts.


5 responses to “Biennials: Readying Radishes and Turnips To Replant

  1. Wow, thank you for this great information! I’m a fairly new gardener, and I love the idea of saving seeds for next year. But I had no idea where to start. This is great!

  2. Thanks again for the informative post with great pictures. How would the process be for carrots ? Any different ? This year I have 9 carrots left, saving the straight, good length carrots for last. I’m going to put them in the hoophouse so there is a chance of maturing seed, hopefully. They have root hairs coming and a bit of green at the tops. Thanks !!

  3. Dan, would it be the same process for parsnips?
    Also, is the main reason for harvesting them at all, as opposed to leaving them in the ground to overwinter, to have more control over what specific roots you want to save from? And then there are space limitations and rotation logistics to respect as well I suppose… but could all these radishes, turnips, carrots, parsnips, etc just be left alone, under some protection, to overwinter?

    • Hi Xander,

      When saving seeds for root crops. It is important to visually evaluate every root you will use as a mother plant. Otherwise you don’t know if you’re accidentally selecting for 2-legged carrots.

      For parsnips, you can just plant them back in the ground. However most other roots don’t easily survive Quebec winters in the ground. Heavy snow cover might be adequate for carrots. But radishes will turn to jelly.

      As such, we pull roots and store them indoors overwinter.

      Though, I don’t know how these roots far in balmy Nova Scotia …


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