It’s midsummer. We creep out, squinting against the sun and dodging 10-foot sunflowers to harvest a few arm-sized zucchinis, then dash back inside before the weeds can get a good grip on our ankles. But soon, we will have the upper hand again. Cool weather slows the riot and brings a lull into which we can charge, clearing space to plant one final harvest. This year, we’ll try the ‘Rover’ radish, new in 2010, because it’s said to be heat tolerant, making it perfect for a midsummer or late summer planting. Best of all, it’s small. We’re done with jungles. For at least another year.
Common name: ‘Rover’ radish
Botanical name: Raphanus sativus ‘Rover’
Plant type: Vegetable
Height: About 6 inches
• Sun: Full sun
• Soil: Light and rich in organic matter
• Moisture: Medium to moist. Radishes need a steady supply of water to mature with a mild flavor and not get tough or bitter.
• Mulch: Mulch to retain soil moisture.
• Pruning: None needed.
• Fertilizer: Add compost or well-rotted manure.
• By seed.
Pests and diseases
• Vulnerable to root maggots and flea beetles. Help prevent infestations by rotating crops: don’t plant radishes where you’ve recently grown other cabbage-family crops.
• ‘Rover’ radish matures in 28 days. Count backward from your area’s average first frost date to figure out when to plant your last crop.
• Harvest radishes as soon as they’re mature. They will toughen if you leave them in the ground.
• Radish leaves and seedpods are edible, too—peppery when raw, and milder if cooked.
All in the family
• The Raphanus genus contains only about 10 species, including daikon and other Asian radishes.
• The Brassicaceae family also contains cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower (cultivars of Brassica oleracea); turnip (Brassica rapa); horseradish (Armoracia rusticana); wasabi (Wasabia japonica); and the garden flowers stock (Matthiola incana) and alyssum (Lobularia maritima).
Where to buy
• Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Winslow, ME, 877-564-6697, www.johnnyseeds.com
• J.W. Jung Seed Company, Randolph, WI, 800-297-3123, www.jungseed.com
• Seedway, Elizabethtown, PA, 800-952-7333, www.seedway.com
(Text by Elizabeth Noll, photo of ‘Rover’ radish courtesy of National Garden Bureau)