Knowing How And When To Thin Radishes For Best Results

Radishes are a great option for any gardener regardless of whether they are inexperienced or advanced. First of all, the vegetable is delicious, so who wouldn’t want to grow it?

Secondly, they mature super quickly and aren’t particularly fussy making them an effortless option. 

Knowing When To Thin Radishes

They also tend not to take up a lot of space and so many gardeners choose to interplant them or add them along the edge of tomato beds. But you can, of course, opt to sow them directly.

However, when doing so, it’ll be imperative that you thin them out. 

But you’ll need to do so at a specific time. Want to know the answer as to when that is? Well, then keep on reading. 

When To Thin Radishes (Overview)

Okay, so typically the radishes will need thinning once they start to form their leaves. You’re going to want to try and keep damage and disturbance of the root of your radishes to a minimum and this is why they need thinning.

Because of this, you should always thin your radish by snipping or pinching them off at the soil level. 

Don’t worry, if you’re still a little unsure, we’re going to go into further detail now. 

Sowing Radish Seeds 

Normally, a radish seed will be sown anywhere between 1-4 inches (2.5-10 cm) apart from one another and then around a ¼ inch (1.3 cm) deep into the soil.

How you space your radishes can change somewhat, though, depending on how many you plan to harvest as well as the type of radish you plan to harvest. 

As a general rule, I always advise sowing 2-4 seeds for each hole. Remember to use more seeds if they are older because they have much lower germination rates. 

When To Thin Your Radishes

As I mentioned above, once you see the true leaves (not the two seed leaves) start to appear, you can begin the thinning process. However, you should never start before this point. 

The reason for this is that the sprouts are often very vulnerable and you want to ensure that you are selecting the sprouts with the highest survival potential to keep and thin out the weaker sprouts. 

How To Thin Radishes 

The main rule to remember is: never to pull.

Keep in mind that all those roots for the seedlings that are planted close together can get all twisted and tangled underground and pulling out a neighboring plant may seriously damage the taproot of the desired radishes.

And sometimes you can pull more than one radish out, too. 

It’s a much more effective method to thin your radishes by either pinching or carefully snipping off the seedlings at the very bottom of the soil.

This way what small amount of root that is left in the soil will slowly die as it has no access to photosynthesis. 

Knowing When To Thin Radishes (1)

How To Choose Which Radishes To Thin Out

A lot of the time, it won’t actually matter all that much, so don’t feel too pressured as you make your selection.

However, what you are looking for where possible is the seedling that looks the healthiest as this will have the best potential for growing (see also: Can I Grow Thyme From Cuttings? Here’s How To Propagate And Grow The Healthiest Thyme)into that scrumptious radish. The ones that don’t look quite as healthy are the ones to go. 

Keep in mind though that the tallest doesn’t always mean the healthiest, either. At the same time, you also don’t want to opt for ones too small as it’s likely they are stunted sprouts. 

The best advice I could give is to look for the radishes with the fullest and largest leaves that tend not to be overly tall and leggy. These ones are usually the ones to keep. 

In terms of knowing which ones to get rid of, if they’re particularly thin, rather leggy, or super stunted, then you’ll want to thin them out. 

Is Radish Thinning Necessary? 

Well, I guess that depends. Many people think so, but then there are people like famous market gardener Charles Dowding who states that it’s not necessary to thin radishes at all.

He is famous for his no-dig methods that promote primarily growing fruit and vegetables in compost. 

He also has another unconventional method for root vegetables known as Multisowing. This is where several seeds are all planted into one singular hole.

Apparently, the seeds will push apart from one another and they grow and so overcrowding is not actually the concern that we might first believe it to be. 

If you decide to give this multi-sowing option a go, just be sure that you space each hole a minimum of 4 inches apart from one another so that each cluster has ample space as they begin to grow.

Using this method you should aim to plant around 4-6 seeds and then thin around 3-5 of those that sprout. 

Final Thoughts 

Radishes are for the most part nice and easy to grow, things only become slightly more complicated when it comes to thinning them.

But from reading this article, you should now know that they are ready for thinning as soon as their true leaves begin to show. 

And if you follow the advice given above on which sprouts to select for thinning, you should be sure that you’ll have a great harvest when it comes around to it.
Amelia Haslehurt
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