The daikon radish is also known as white radish, Japanese radish, Chinese radish, winter radish, oriental radish, and luóbo. It’s a popular root vegetable in many cultures and is increasingly popular in the United States.
Consumers often don’t see daikon in regular grocery stores, so the best way to get good tasting and organic daikon is to grow it yourself.
Growing Chinese radishes at home isn’t as challenging as it may seem. We will show you how to plant and grow these Asian radishes, when and how to harvest them, and let you know some tips about storing and using daikon radishes in your kitchen.
Then you will be able to pick the best daikon variety for your garden and successfully grow this nutritious and delicious vegetable.
Daikon is a white radish in the brassica family of plants that includes mustard, spinach, cabbage, kale, and other leafy green vegetables. It’s believed that daikon originated in the Meditteranean region before introducing Asian regions, where it became a staple crop.
What is Daikon?
Daikon is grown primarily for the root, which grows as long as two feet. They look like a radish with long white roots reminiscent of a large carrot with brilliant green leafy tops.
Daikon is a winter radish and grows well in cooler climates. Like many other brassica plants, the leaves and roots of the daikon are edible.
How to Grow Daikon Radish
You’ll be pleased to know that daikon is one of the less troublesome brassica vegetables to grow in the United States. The USDA considers daikon to be hardy between zones 2 through 11, meaning almost anyone in the country can grow Chinese white carrots at home. All it takes to grow fascinating and super-healthy daikon radish is a little know-how.
– Soil Conditions
Daikon will grow well in various soil conditions, but adequately preparing your garden for the long white vegetable is key to success. Your soil should drain well and be nearly neutral in pH- daikon prefers a range of 5.8 to 6.8.
You need to Aerate your soil well with a fork to loosen it as much as possible before seeding. Daikon roots will often loosen soil while growing but may get stunted if the soil is too compact.
You should avoid adding excess nitrogen to your soil. Nitrogen will provide nutrition to the plant to grow big, firm leafy greens at the expense of root growth. Since we want the root most of all, it makes sense to limit nitrogen when growing daikon vegetables.
Mixing a good quality potting or garden soil into your garden should be all that’s necessary to provide the proper nutrients for your daikon radish roots.
– Do Daikon Radishes Grow in Full Sun?
Daikon will grow well in full sun to partial shade conditions. Since this is a winter variety, light conditions are less important than for other types of spring radishes.
Some varieties of daikon radish have been developed to grow in partial shade to shady spots. Most varieties will not produce a big root without a fair amount of sunlight.
– How to Water
Like most brassica vegetable plants, daikon does best when they have plenty of water. The key is to avoid overwatering and leaving soil wet for extended times.
Numerous problems arise when plants are overwatered, including diseases and pests. It’s also essential to prevent underwatering your Chinese white radishes because the plants will stress and produce small or irregular roots.
The best practice for successfully growing daikon is water about once a week in regions that do not receive much rainfall. In wet areas with lots of rain, well-draining soil is essential to preventing damage to your plants.
When you water, the best way is to allow a slow trickle of water at the root while avoiding spraying leaves with water.
– When to Plant Daikon Radishes
You should pay attention to the length of time to maturity and the average date of the first frost in your area when selecting various daikons to grow.
All daikon types are winter maturing vegetables and can tolerate cold temperatures but will get damaged by a hard frost. Most varieties mature within 50 days, so plan on planting in late summer or early fall for a good winter harvest.
Gardeners who live in hot, dry climates may have more success starting daikon seeds indoors about two to three weeks before planting.
Starting seeds indoors prevents damage from the excessive heat that can kill young seedlings and sprouts. It’s an excellent practice to harden off seedlings or about a week before planting in your garden.
When growing, it is typical for the top root of daikon radishes to appear growing out of the soil. This top root is normal, and it isn’t necessary to cover or bury the exposed, growing white root vegetable.
– How to Plant Daikon Radishes
The best way to plant daikon is from direct seeding in your garden. Seeds typically germinate quickly within a few days and will grow rapidly into young seedlings.
When you plant seeds in your garden, place seeds up to ½” deep in prepared, moist soil. In rows, sow seeds one-inch apart, then thin seedlings to about six inches apart once the plants are a few inches tall. You can eat the thinned sprouts raw in a microgreen salad.
Many gardeners use a handy trick when growing daikon in their garden, which is to plant successively for about two weeks. That way, when the first daikon planted are ready for harvest, the younger plants will still be growing.
By planting successively, you can harvest what you need without having to harvest your entire crop.
– Can Daikon Radish Grow in Containers?
Gardeners working with limited space will have success growing daikon white radishes in containers. Many daikon radish varieties do not grow massive, long roots but instead have more typical radish shapes. These varieties are ideal for container planting because the soil won’t need to be as deep.
If you plan on growing daikon in containers, start with at least 15” of soil depth, and more is better. Containers with high sides are preferable because the extra depth protects the radishes and helps support the plants.
Growing daikon in containers is a little more troublesome due to the size, but it’s also an easy way to prevent weeds that can be difficult to remove in your garden without disturbing growing white radish roots.
Pests and Diseases
Daikon is not frequently bothered by pests. The most common insects are flea beetles, which cut irregular holes in leaves. Row cover can help prevent insects, and a light dusting of diatomaceous earth will kill most pests that feed on daikon.
The most common diseases are fungal and bacterial infections typically caused by overwatering and planting in infected soil. Rotate brassica with other unrelated plants to prevent soil infections and avoid overwatering.
How to Harvest Daikon Radishes
There is no easy way to tell when daikon is ready for harvest. When you select a variety, you should pay attention to the average maturation time listed on the package to have a good idea of when your white radish roots are ready to harvest.
To harvest, grasp the leafy greens just above the top of the root and gently twist and pull. The entire root should quickly come out of the soil.
Using a sharp, clean knife, cut the greens from the root and save them for salads, stir fry, or other types of dishes.
Daikon is always best when eaten fresh, and that’s one reason we recommend successive planting so you can continue to enjoy fresh vegetables for several weeks.
How to Store Daikon Radishes
When planning on storing daikon and other radish or turnip vegetables, a good practice is to brush the dirt off the root, but don’t wash it before storing. Instead, wrap the white root in a damp towel and store it in the refrigerator, particularly in the crisper drawer.
This process creates cool temperatures and high humidity, which keeps the daikon fresh for three to four weeks.
If you don’t have the space to store fresh daikon in your refrigerator, there are some other successful ways to keep Chinese white carrots.
The best ways to prepare daikon for storage are blanching and pickling. Some people prefer to peel daikon radishes, but it isn’t necessary.
– How to Blanch
This is a simple method of preparing daikon for storage. Bring a large pot of water to boil and fill a large bowl with ice water.
With a sharp knife, slice the daikon thinly or cube the root. Place the sliced daikon in a colander and lower it into the boiling water for two to three minutes. Remove and immediately immerse in the ice bath to stop the cooking process.
Once the daikon is cool, spread on a towel to dry completely, then package in a ziplock bag. Store in the freezer.
Frozen daikon will keep in the freezer for about three months. Use frozen daikon, add to soups or stir fry while frozen, and be careful of splattering oil when frying.
– How to Pickle
Another method of storing daikon is to pickle the fresh root vegetables. There are thousands of ways to pickle, and daikon is a popular addition to kimchi, which is based on napa cabbage, a related brassica vegetable.
Start by thinly slicing daikon. You can leave slices in rounds or julienne for a space-saving option. Coat the daikon with a small amount of salt and sugar and toss until well coated. In about three minutes, the daikon will become flexible.
Thoroughly rinse the sliced daikon under cool water. In a large bowl or pot, combine sugar, white vinegar, and warm water and stir until the sugar dissolves.
Pack daikon into glass jars and cover with the brining liquid. Cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours. Pickled daikon will keep for about three weeks in the refrigerator.
– Eating Daikon Radish
Daikon has a slightly sweeter and more mild flavor than the typical radishes you’ll find at the grocery store.
It’s delightful when raw and makes a great addition to any recipe that uses turnips, carrots, or radishes. Pickled daikon is often served with Vietnamese and Japanese food as a topping or a side dish.
- Daikon radishes are often called Chinese radishes, Japanese Radishes, white radishes, and luobo.
- Daikon is easy to grow in your garden and does not have many common pests or diseases.
- Daikon grows best when planted in late summer or early fall for a winter harvest. Warmer weather and long, warm nights will prevent root growth.
- You can plant daikon in your garden or deep containers.
- Loose, well-draining soil is necessary for a good quality crop.
- Harvest daikon according to the variety you plant.
- Storing daikon is more complicated than some plants, and it’s best when eaten fresh.
Now you know how easy it is to grow this delicious and nutritious vegetable in your garden, so don’t fret when you can’t find it in the store.
It’s simple to prepare your garden for growing daikon, and it can be grown in virtually all parts of the United States.
Your family will love having a tasty root vegetable different from the dull, common varieties you see in the store.