Why Are My Radishes Growing Above Ground?

Root vegetables are one of the most grown vegetables around the world. They may not look exactly alluring to you but they sure satisfy your needs for nutrients and fill your belly too. Root vegetables have particularly become more popular in the recent year as they can be grown easily. They grow fast and give a better harvest rate than other vegetables.

One of the most popular root vegetables without which any cuisine in the world cannot be completed is potato. Other root vegetables like carrots and turnips are also very famous. Radishes, on the other hand, are comparatively less appreciated. Neither are they known for their taste nor are they famous as a garnish.

With great taste come great problems this write will help you know why radishes growing above ground.

Most people treat radish as thinly sliced toppings added to salads that resemble Carpaccio. But you are mistaken if you think that this is the only thing you could eat your radish. This vegetable is used in unique ways around the world. You can easily incorporate it with your western dishes.

In the south-east chutneys are made out of radishes that can be used as dippings for your nachos or crackers. Poriyals made of radish work as stuffings for slices of bread and parathas.

You can also use them to make raita for accompanying spicy foods. There are other options like radish soup, kachumber, and melon balls. This delicious vegetable comes with huge culinary prospects.

Even though it is easy to grow and very versatile in the kitchen, radish faces many problems as it grows. Some of the common radish growing problems are growing tough, not forming a bulb, cracking up,  tasting too hot, and developing woody flesh.

But the one problem that leaves gardeners confused is radishes growing above the ground. Have you too been tormented by this problem? Well, don’t worry anymore. In this article, we will help you understand why this happens and how to eliminate the problem. But first, let us look into some benefits of growing radish at home.

Also Read: Why Are My Carrots Not Growing?

Why Are Radishes Healthy?

Radish can be very healthy if eaten now and then. Cooked or raw, it packs a lot of punch. Eating just a half cup of radish can satisfy your daily vitamin C needs. It also contains vitamin K and vitamin B-6, along with minerals like niacin, potassium, riboflavin, phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium.

Radishes are cruciferous vegetables containing compounds that can produce isothiocyanates when broken down. Isothiocyanates when absorbed into our body can prevent tumors from growing at an early stage. A study from 2010 shows that radish root extract can kill cancer cells.

Both radish roots and radish leaves are considered very good bowl regulators. They keep our tummy healthy along with keeping blood sugar and cholesterol levels in check. Although many of us hate the bitter taste of radish juice, it can cure gastric ulcers. It also prevents the gastric tissues and mucosal barrier from being weakened.

Radishes are filled with natural antifungal agents. RsAFP2 is a protein found in radishes that can kill fungi developments. Though the taste of radish takes time to get accustomed to, the health benefits are immediate.

Why Are My Radishes Growing Above Ground?

Radish brings a bundle of joy to novice gardeners as this vegetable can be grown with minimum care. They become the first harvest of spring and fill out the kitchen with cute little red bulbs.

The chances that you would find a radish growing above ground under normal circumstances is almost negligible. That is not supposed to happen as they are root vegetables. The growth of root vegetables is hard to track as they form a bulb or a cylinder under the ground. That is where the plants store their stock of food for winter before the temperature goes down.

These plants choose the roots to use as storage to confuse herbivorous animals that eat up their stored food. So growth above the ground is a very abnormal phenomenon.

However, this is not uncommon. Any experienced farmer would tell you that this situation arises due to some common mistakes on the part of the gardeners. Let’s look at the reasons for the above-ground growth of radish bulbs.

#1. Compactness of the soil

Radish roots grow like carrot roots inside the ground. They spread thin roots deep and wide in the ground and form the bulb in the main root. This bulb keeps getting bigger and digging under the ground until it reaches the maximum size or the weather changes.

These types of root vegetables need a good length of loose and crumbly topsoil. About 14 to 16 inches of loose topsoil is recommended for a healthy growth of the root. To keep the soil loose and nutritious for the plant at the same time, try putting a mix of compost soil and dry leaves.

To check whether the roots are well developed, pull out the roots to get a look at the radish bulb. But when you pull out only the bulbs are supposed to come up. The soft taproots stay stuck in the soil. The main root under the bulb though is a different story. It goes very deep and is usually stronger than the taproots. It sucks water and nutrients from the deep soil.

So when you do not provide loosening agents for your topsoil or don’t work your soil when needed, the garden soil becomes very compact. Compact soil suffocates the roots and does not leave space for the root and bulb to grow.

So instead of trying to breach the barrier of compact soil, the roots push themselves out millimeter by millimeter every day. By the time you may notice the problem it is probably half or one inch out of the soil already.

You have to be vigilant to notice this problem. If you notice even a quarter inch of root above soil, check the soil integrity. Try to loosen the soil without hurting the roots. Next time while planting carefully work the soil at least 12 to 14 inches deep. And do not forget to add leaves and compost to make the soil soft.

#2. Seeds Were Not Planted Deep Enough

Seed packets that you buy from supermarkets suggest that you sow your seed half inches deep. But there is little scientific backing to that. Test crops are tested in very controlled environments that are not exactly the same as your backyard garden. To get the maximum output from your radishes you may need to increase the depth.

Scientific research on radishes from 1960 found out that radishes increase the size of their bulb as the seeds are sown deeper. They also found that with increased depth the chances of roots peaking above ground decreases. Scientists suggest a depth of one and a half inches, three times deeper than the recommended depth on the packet.

After this research, many people tried their theory and ran trial experiments. The results were always positive. So if your packet of seed suggests a shallow sowing depth, simply ignore it. Go for one and a half inch depth for longer and healthy radishes.

#3. Soil Temperature

Lack of a favorable soil temperature can be causing the problem too. Too hot or too cold soil can cause radish roots to grow over the soil. This happens usually because of the irregular timing of starting the plants. Plant your seeds at the start of spring when the soil temperature is optimum.

Check this out: Potato Leaves Turning Yellow

Tips To Avoid Roots Peeking Above Ground

  • Work your soil enough to make it crumbly
  • Make the soil loose for at least 14 inches deep
  • Make the depth from half an inch to one and a half-inch while planting your seed
  • Maintain soil temperature and provide the plants with at least 6 hours of sunlight every day
  •  Add compost and dry leaves to keep the soil loose
  •  Do not let the soil loose moisture or it may result in bitter radishes

Why Are My Radishes Long and Thin?

As you already know, radishes form under the soil. This makes it hard to know what is going on underground. Gardeners usually follow the growth of the leaves to determine the time for pulling out the radishes.

Once a radish is pulled out there is no chance you can plant them again. This is because the main root gets detached from the taproots. So pulling out a perfect radish can be a little tricky. Look for healthy, thick, huge leaves to determine the right time to pull radishes. Radishes are easily grown in a span of 3 to 4 weeks. So take notice of the time of planting too.

Even after following the correct timing, you may be surprised that even a plant that looks healthy from outside has not formed a bulb inside the soil. Instead, it has formed a long and thin main root. So What causes this problem? Let’s find out.

  • Overcrowding: One of the major reasons behind your thin radishes is the overcrowding of seeds and plants. Radishes need space inside the soil to grow the taproots. Soil that is overcrowded with seeds cannot provide the plants with enough room to store food in roots. To get fleshy crunchy red bulbs, plant your seeds at least two to three inches apart.
  • Sunlight: Radishes love sunlight. At least six hours of sunlight daily is needed to grow a healthy radish plant.
  • Temperature: Radishes thrive in temperatures below 80°F. When the temperature rises above this, the plant focuses on producing flowers rather than pumping up the roots.
  • Irrigation: Radishes need lots of water to grow and store food in the roots. Water shortage can cause thin and long roots. Also, the soil needs to be loose enough so that your deep roots can collect water from the depths of the soil. Do not add hot water to your soil. Radishes start to bolt if hot water is applied. The soil temperature should be maintained by sunlight.
  • Nutrients: Do not over-fertilize your plants. Contrary to common misconception, radishes do not get bulky when more fertilizer is applied. Scientists have found that too much nitrogen in the soil can give the plant incentive to focus on the leaves rather than the roots. The abundance of food takes away the reason for storing extra foods for the radish plants.

Tips To Get Healthy Bulbs

  • Smooth and crumbly soil will give you the best results.
  • Time your planting period to avoid too hot or too cold temperature
  • Plant the varieties that are more suitable for your local climate. Check the packaging of your seeds for better knowledge.
  • Do not overcrowd your seedbed. Plant the seeds with more than two inches of gap in between.
  • If your radish is getting more than 6 hours of sun provide shade to prevent it.
  • You can also use a mulch to protect your soil from external heat. Use mulches like wooden chips, straws, leaves, and hay.
  • Water your radishes regularly to keep the soil moist.

And that was it for this article! We will be back with another one. Stay tuned!

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