Growing radishes is one of the easiest ways to boost your garden yields in a very short amount of time.
While there are plenty of radish varieties to choose from, sometimes picking more unique varieties than a traditional Cherry Belle radish keeps gardening from getting stale and even gets your family excited for something they don’t typically see at the grocery store.
Growing radishes is usually pretty simple, but having a go-to guide to grow White Icicle radishes can be helpful! I sure didn’t have the perfect experience growing them for the first time, so this should help you out a bit!
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The White Icicle radish variety goes by many other names:
- Lady Fingers
- White Naples
- White Italian
- Long White
- White Transparent
They are a mild-flavored radish variety kin the brassica family of crops. This heirloom variety has been cultivated since the 1800s and is known to do well in the cold and warm seasons, making it the perfect addition whenever you have extra space in the garden.
For example, I used the space between the carrots to grow a row of White Icicle radish. I knew they would be harvested before the carrots needed the extra space, meaning I got more yield from the same amount of garden space!
They take roughly 25-30 days, depending on the weather, after sprouting to reach maturity.
While leaving them in the ground for longer can alter their flavor and texture, they do better than many other varieties if left longer than they should.
At the time of harvest, the radish roots should be between 4-6 inches long and come intact with edible leaves that serve as fresh greens for many applications!
To grow a good crop of White Icicle radishes, there are a few steps to adhere to:
- Prepare the garden bed accordingly
- Direct sow the seeds
- Water thoroughly through the growing season
- Providing nutrients (or lack thereof)
- Deal with pests and diseases
- Harvest when ready
Let’s take a look at each of these steps in-depth to ensure we get the most from our crop.
White Icicle radishes do best in well-worked soil that is free from compacted areas, rocks, clay, and thick weed roots. These radishes grow more like carrots, stretching further down than growing wide, so hard objects and compacted soil can reduce root growth.
I utilize a no-till garden design, so my planting areas are 4+ inches thick of high-quality garden soil that has never been stepped on (aside from a few missteps of course). This provides the perfect growing medium for White Icicle radishes.
You don’t have to use the no-till system for radishes, but ensuring that you work the planting area at least 6 inches deep is preferred for this radish variety.
While radishes can be transplanted, most gardeners agree that this fast-growing crop is impaired by the transplanting process. That makes direct sowing the seeds the best choice.
Plant each seed about an inch apart to a depth of ¼-½” deep. Once the plants have sprouted, you can thin them out to 2-3 inches apart to ensure there is enough room for the roots to grow.
If radishes are grown too close together and don’t have enough space to spread their root structure, they simply won’t produce roots and you’ll be left with a plant that provides only the tops as fresh greens.
Radishes do best in moist soils as dry soils for long periods can increase the spicy taste that sometimes afflicts radishes.
The typical recommendation is 1” of water per week, but this is dependant on soil drainage, water retention, whether mulch is present, and ambient temperatures.
One of the best ways to ensure your radishes are receiving enough water is the stick your finger in the soil a bit away from the radish plants. If the soil is moist through the first 6 inches or so, then the irrigation is sufficient.
I choose to use soaker hoses in my garden to keep my plants dry while keeping my root zones at optimal moisture levels. Getting your plants wet by using overhead watering systems puts your garden on the fast track to diseases typically.
Many beginner gardeners are concerned about getting enough nitrogen to their crops to encourage foliage growth.
With radishes, you don’t want an abundance of nitrogen as it causes more leaf growth and less root growth. While this is fine if you are only interested in the radish tops, White Icicle radishes don’t produce huge tops in the first place.
If you prepare your planting area with high-quality garden soil already, the short growing cycle of radishes should mean that the soil will provide all necessary nutrients for radishes.
Any additional fertilizer need during a cycle of radishes is probably a sure sign that your garden needs some help!
I didn’t use anything but the nutrients already present in the soil and water throughout my growing season with the White Icicle radishes. This should be your goal as well!
Radishes are such a fast-growing crop that simple crop rotation typically takes care of any issue that would afflict these plants.
However, I quickly found that birds love pecking at my radish sprouts as they came out of the ground, which delayed growth in a good amount of my crop.
Birds won’t mess with established plants, like transplants, but we know that radishes don’t do well with transplanting.
This means we need an easy way to scare off the birds to allow the radishes to mature. There are a few options:
- Bird netting
- Motion-sensor sprayers
- Artificial bird calls looped on a timer
- Hanging shiny objects to flutter in the wind.
I had some old CDs lying around and a few broken T posts. So, I figured I’d try to tie the CDs up to the T posts with some shiny ribbon. Low and behold, it worked for just as many days as were needed for the radish plants to become established.
Once you start seeing the roots sticking out of the ground, you can begin harvesting your radishes.
While you may pick a few before their maximum length, harvesting them when the roots begin to show is an easy way to stagger your harvest and reduce the chance of radishes turning pithy or spicy from getting overripe.
Wash off the excess soil and you have an edible harvest from leaves to roots!
Radishes are great when eaten raw or cooked. White Icicle radishes do well with fermentation as well. The tops serve as fresh greens that can be thrown in a salad raw or cooked in stir-frys and soups.
If you grow too many, they are great treats for livestock as well. Chickens, pigs, and cattle would all love a tasty treat from the garden.
A fun idea is to plant a pig pen in radishes about 30 days before you put the pigs in it, giving the pigs plenty of food and encouragement to root!
Should You Grow It?
There are plenty of difficult crops to try growing in your garden. Radishes of any variety don’t typically fit the bill.
White Icicle radishes are even easier because they can thrive in cool and warm weather, unlike many radishes that prefer cool seasons.
Growing bright white radishes can be a great way to get kids involved in the garden as well! Just check out how she loves harvesting this fast-growing crop!
Milo Martinovich was born and raised in a small town in Northern California. Throughout his life, he has been involved in agriculture and now lives on a 7-acre homestead raising livestock and growing food for his family. Self-sufficiency is his ultimate goal.