Japanese Minowase Radish (Daikon) Seeds - (Raphanus sativus)
- Seed Count:
- Approx 300 seeds per pack
- Days to Maturity:
- 45-58 days
- Days to Germination:
- 4-10 days
- Plant Spacing:
- Light Preference:
- Full sun to partial shade
- Soil Requirements::
- Sandy loam
- Heirloom, Non-Hybrid, Non-GMO seeds
Japanese Minowase Radish/Daikon Radish - Delectable Multi-Use Heirloom
The Minowase Daikon is a specific type of radish highly favored for its large root, versatility, and mild, sweet, and peppery flavor.
Unsurprisingly, its name comes from two Japanese words: dai, which means large, and kon, which means root. One of the easiest cool season crops to grow, gardeners tell of sowing seeds then forgetting them, only to later discover them happily growing with their characteristic large white roots sticking out of the soil. Needing little attention, they store well in a cool, dry place for several months.
Even though the Minowase Daikon is in the radish family, there are differences — most notably in size and flavor. The common reddish round radishes are much smaller and sharper in flavor. Red radishes have an immediate, sharp, peppery flash on the tongue, whereas young daikon’s flavor comes on later with a milder, sometimes slightly sweet flavor.
The daikon will be sharper with more pungency if left to mature fully.
It is known by many names, hinting at its multi-functional role in gardens throughout history — dichon radish, forage radish, tillage radish, Chinese radish, Japanese radish, Oriental radish, white radish, winter radish, long white radish, and true daikon.
The Japanese Minowase cultivar is widely considered to be the finest radish variety for summer sowing to autumn harvest.
Highly valued for being adaptable to sun or shade and ready for harvest in 45 to 60 days. Its pure white roots can grow to 2’ long and 3-4” in diameter. Younger radishes are mild, tender, and somewhat sweet, while mature radishes have a more pungent, peppery flavor.
Freshly harvested roots are surprisingly heavy, with plump, firm flesh. The texture is crisp and dense with a crunchy, juicy snap when raw with a mild, semi-sweet, peppery, tangy flavor. Once cooked, the flesh softens, becoming mellow and sweet, absorbing the flavors it is cooked with.
The greens are peppery with a bright, grassy, pungent flavor that mellows slightly when stir-fried.
Easily grown year-round in milder winter climates, they are primarily a cool-season vegetable in cold winter areas — planted in early fall, then harvested just after the first or second mild frost for the best flavor. Daikon radish is one of the most widely used vegetables in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, and Southeast Asian cuisine.
Different radish varieties are now broadly distributed worldwide, but there are almost no archaeological records to help determine their early history and domestication.
Ethnobotanists have tentatively located the origin of Raphanus sativus in Southeast Asia, as this is the only region where truly wild forms have been discovered. India, China, and Central Asia appear to have been secondary centers of domestication.
Radishes entered the historical record in the Third Century BC, while Greek and Roman agriculturalists of the first century AD described details of small, large, round, long, mild, and sharp varieties. The radish was one of the first European crops introduced to the Americas through Mexico.
Daikon radishes became widely cultivated throughout Japan during the Edo period and were planted on farmland as a long-storing vegetable utilized during seasons of famine. Over time, Daikon radishes were intertwined into the traditional diets of many different Asian cultures, and the versatile root is still a staple ingredient found throughout Asia and Southeast Asia.
The Minowase daikon is a vegetable with many historical uses — a food crop, trap crop, forage, and cover crop for gardeners and farmers.
As a food crop, they are planted in spring through early fall in colder winter areas or grown from late summer through late spring the next year in warm winter areas. Asians tend to cook or pickle their daikons, similar to how we pickle cucumbers.
Their flavor shines when cooked, especially stir-fries and roasts, where their flesh is tender, buttery, and mild. As an ingredient in Korean kimchi, they add depth to the fermented flavors, bridging the spicy with the sour as a condiment, side dish, or dip.
In Japan, Daikon radishes are often served as a refreshing accompaniment to tempura and other deep-fried dishes as a counterpart to the heavier flavors. Fresh, paper-thin slices are served at the end of meals to improve digestion. Thinly sliced rounds or matchsticks of Daikon radishes offer zing when mixed into salads and coleslaws. A favorite dish is Simmered Daikon — thick slices simmered in a light soy or miso-based broth — one of the simplest looking dishes yet so tasty.
Sweet-sour pickled daikon radishes are a favorite topping in Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches.
They can be sliced into stir-fries, steamed as a neutral dish, roasted into chips, simmered in soups, curries, and stews, or braised as a savory vegetable.
Here’s a little tip a long-time onion grower gave me – plant Daikons in the fall where you want to grow onions next spring. Let them mature, die, and decompose just like using them as tillage radishes. Next spring, plant an onion seed or slip in each hollow left by the Daikons. The onions won’t spend extra energy pushing the soil out to grow, and the extra organic matter acts as compost, feeding the onions. He said he would never sell those onions as they are too big and tasty!
They sauté beautifully thinly sliced and briefly tossed in a pan of hot oil, then sprinkled with flake salt, giving them a surprisingly deep roasted turnip-like flavor. Or halve them, toss in oil and salt, and spread them alongside carrots and scallions on the grill. The smoky heat caramelizes their surface while gently softening their center, bringing out the distinct sweetness and subtle flavors that are memorable all on their own.
Slow-roasted radishes are delicious, but another tasty option is pan-braising, which mellows the spice and softens its texture, making it tender and moist, almost beet-like.
As a trap crop, daikons attract flea beetles, flea hoppers, mustard aphids, harlequin bugs, and the dreaded cabbage maggots. In our article, Trap Crops- Organic Pest Management for Gardeners, learn more about trap crops, how they work, and how to use them in your garden.
As a fall and winter cover crop, daikon reduces nitrate leaching, enhances soil organic matter, controls soil erosion, and makes soil phosphate available to other plants. The plant residues decompose quickly, releasing mineral nutrients rapidly. Their long roots penetrate deeply into dense soil, leaving root channels behind, creating improved air and water percolation through the soil.
This is known as bio-drilling, and research plantings showed four times more corn roots penetrated a compact subsoil after a forage radish cover crop than after leaving the soil fallow over the winter and twice as many roots after a rye cover crop.
Early plantings of daikon establish dense foliage, helping to reduce weeds, which in turn reduces additional weed seeds in the seedbed. Their roots are allelopathic, meaning they release a weed growth inhibiting biochemical into the soil. This delays the germination of weed seeds in the soil by four to six weeks, allowing the daikon radish crop to become well-established.
Radishes are helpful companion plants for many garden crops, because their pungent odor deters destructive insect pests like aphids, cucumber beetles, tomato hornworms, squash bugs, and ants.
They are excellent planted as a trap crop on the edges to lure insect pests away from the main crop.
Cucumbers and radishes always seem to thrive when grown together, and radishes also grow well with carrots, catmint, chervil, chives, cilantro/coriander, dill, lettuce, nasturtiums, peas, pumpkins, and turnips.
However, they are antagonistic when growing close to Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, grape, hyssop, spinach, and summer savory.
Radishes are a favorite to sow as soon as the soil can be worked in spring, as they grow easily and rapidly in cool weather – often maturing in 3 weeks from seed.
They should be succession planted every 10 days to 2 weeks from early spring until early summer. For a fall crop start 6-8 weeks before your first expected frost date.
Moderately fertile soil is ideal, lightly amended with aged compost, as too much fertilizer results in heavy leafy growth and stunted roots.
Plant seeds for small radishes ½” deep, spaced 1-2” apart, in rows 6-8” apart. Larger radishes need more space, about 3-4” apart when planting. Taking a little time spacing seeds out when planting saves much more time spent thinning and possibly damaging young, fragile roots later on, and makes weeding simpler and faster. After planting, tamp seeds down lightly into the soil, and water lightly.
The key to crisp, mild radishes is steady soil moisture and regular weeding. Ideal soil moisture is when you can feel the moisture in the soil when you insert your index finger to the first joint, but is slightly dirty when pulled out, not muddy. Keeping young weeds out takes only a couple of minutes per row if done every day or every other day.
Early morning harvests will give you the best flavor, while late afternoon harvests taste a little washed out.
The long roots can be susceptible to snapping if you aren’t careful when harvesting. You can avoid this by carefully loosening the soil around the roots with a pitchfork, hand fork, or shovel.
Once your soil is loose, hold the leaves at the tops of the root and gently pull.
Once harvested, cut off the leaves at their base. With the leaves removed, the roots can be stored for multiple weeks in a cold, moist environment. The best way to store daikons is to place the roots in the refrigerator with a damp paper towel or cloth.
To increase the storage life of your radishes, avoid washing the roots or leaves until you are ready to use them.
From the soil to the seed to the food you eat - we'll help you grow your best garden!