Growing radishes and spinach

Judith Adam

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French breakfast radish bunches. Photo from

I noticed a daylily with growing leaf tips, and that can mean only one thing — spring has sprung! There are still three or four more weeks of potentially rough weather before the ground will be ready for even the earliest planting. I’ll need a diversion while I wait, and will make a few salad baskets in a couple of weeks.

French breakfast radish bunches. Photo from
French breakfast radish bunches. Photo from

I line baskets with plastic bags (cut open down the sides and laid flat), slit the bottom in a few places to provide drainage and fill with potting soil. Any basket, sturdy box or container will do, as long as it has drainage holes. The baskets sit on a table on the deck in bright light, where squirrels are unlikely dig in the soil, and I can water them whenever the baskets begin to feel lightweight. They’re easily moved into the garage at night until temperatures stay above freezing. Alternatively, you could cover the seeds and eventual seedlings with a light fabric or a cardboard box to protect them from light frosts.

Radish and spinach are two salad crops that like to get an early start in cool weather, and this year I’ll be planting ‘Palco’ spinach and ‘Saxa 2’ radish ( Both are slightly dwarf and like to get started outdoors when daytime temperature is a minimum of 4°C. They’ll start producing in 21 days. ‘Palco’ spinach is resistant to mildew, and perfect for cutting individual baby leaves for salads. To harvest leaf-by-leaf, I plant seeds one inch (2.5 cm) deep and two inches (5 cm) apart. I cut one spinach leaf at a time from each little plant, allowing the tiny crown to remain and sprout more leaves.

‘Saxa 2’ radish is a small, deep scarlet ball, with a short top that won’t flop over, and I space the seed as I do for the spinach. Sometimes I also grow French breakfast radishes, which are longer with white bottoms and red tops. If you like radishes enough to use in sandwiches, you might need two baskets of these!


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