Daikon is neither a radish nor a radish, although it is a relative of them. This is a special culture. In his homeland, in Japan, he is the main vegetable crop in the fields, early ripening and fruitful, it is included in the daily menu of the Japanese.
Daikon is a biennial cruciferous plant. He has an interesting feature that distinguishes him from relatives - a significant part of the root crop grows above the ground.
Now more than 400 varieties and hybrids of this culture have been created. All varieties are divided into groups - varieties that differ in the shape of the root crop and its location in the soil. For example, the Shogoin cultivar - the roots have a rounded shape and are only ¼ buried in the soil, the rest is located above the soil level; the Shiroagari cultivar is cylindrical, the length of the root crop is up to 30 cm, 2 / 3-3 / 4 of it are located above the soil. Both of these varieties grow well even on clay soils. Varieties of Nerina - up to 70 cm long, Minovase - 55 cm, Miyasige up to 50 cm - they have most of the root crops - from ½ to ¾ buried in the ground. These daikon varieties are best planted on light soils. Other varieties of daikons in their homeland can grow to gigantic sizes in length and weigh up to 20-30 kg!
In our climate (North-West of the Russian Federation), this culture feels great. I manage to sustainably grow Minovase daikon up to 80 cm long and 2-3 kg in weight. All varieties and hybrids of the Miyashige group, Ninengo, Minovase varieties give a good harvest. The earliest cultivar is Minovase.
All real daikons are white. The part protruding above the ground is with a light green color of the skin of the neck and shoulders.
It is very unpretentious, but the best results are obtained on light fertile soils with deep groundwater. The soil for long-fruited varieties must be dug up onto two shovel bayonets. Add humus or compost at the rate of 1-2 buckets per 1 sq. meter and complete mineral fertilizer. Fresh manure cannot be applied, this applies to all other root crops, since then the root crop can branch out.
You can sow on a flat surface or make ridges. Acidic soil must certainly be calcified to a neutral reaction. On acidic soil, daikon will not work. The landing site should be sunny for at least 5-6 hours a day.
Its agricultural technology is exactly the same as that of our winter radish. Since it is a long day plant, the best time to sow it is the second half of July, when the day starts to get shorter than the night. If sown earlier, the plants will go to the stem and the root crop will stop growing. However, unlike a radish, it will retain its juiciness and tenderness of the pulp and will be edible. To save an early-sown daikon from blooming, it is necessary to cover it from light in order to create an 8-hour daylight hours, at least during the first two weeks of its life. This is how I do it. I sow seeds in mid-May. As soon as shoots appear, every evening, at 20.00, I put jars or pans over each sprout. In the morning at 8.00 I take off the shelter. And so on for 14 days, until the "program" of the plant begins to work for the growth of the root crop. Seedlings grow very quickly, soon you have to replace the jars with pots and buckets. Daylight hours increase up to 12 hours, but color is extremely rare. In early August, root crops already reach significant sizes.
When sowing in July, such feats of daily shelter do not need to be done. By October, beautiful juicy root crops have time to grow. The varieties of the Ninengo group are resistant to flowering, but their seeds are very difficult to find on the market.
The planting scheme is as follows: 25-30 × 60-70 cm. With a denser planting, roots often grow small and the total yield decreases. It is convenient to sow in holes watered with water, 2-3 seeds in each, to a depth of 1.5-2 cm. It is useful to cover each hole with a plastic cup to save crops from drying out the soil.After 3-7 days, when the sprouts appear, the cups must be removed immediately, otherwise the sprouts will instantly stretch out. The growth rate of this plant is simply amazing.
Until the plants sprout, you need to monitor the moisture content of the soil and not allow the soil crust to form. In the phase of the first true leaf, surplus plants are transplanted with a lump of earth to the place of unripe seeds. If the extra plants still remain, then after the appearance of 2-3 true leaves, the weakest plants in the hole are cut off or ... given to neighbors.
Further care - abundant rare watering, deep loosening of the soil. There are no problems with weeds, because the leaves of the daikon are very large and are located flat above the ground, so the weeds simply do not get light. You can give top dressing with full mineral fertilizer, however, on fertile soil, daikon grows well without top dressing.
From the moment the shoots appear, you need to start the fight against the cruciferous flea, which quickly tasted this new vegetable in our area, and she really liked it. The methods of struggle are usual: there should be no weeds near the plantings, dust the plants with ash mixed with fluff lime every morning in the dew, or dust them with simple dust. If the flea is really annoying, you will have to spray it with some kind of drug, for example, Iskra.
Another malicious pest of this culture is the cabbage fly (both spring and summer). It spoils root crops badly. Here you will have to rake off the soil between the rows at least once a week from the growing root crops, and add fresh soil from the row spacings to the root crops, just not the one that has just been raked away. You can simply cover the crops with lutrasil, only without holes and without leaving gaps.
In October, the roots are pulled out, undermining with a pitchfork so as not to break, because they are very fragile. The dug up roots wither quickly in the air, so they must be stored in a cold room: if for several days, then covered with plastic wrap, and if longer, then sprinkled with sand or earth.
Daikon is usually eaten fresh. Salads are made with carrots, apples or without them, with walnuts, seasoned with sour cream or mayonnaise, or simply poured with vegetable oil. It tastes sweet, without sharp rare bitterness, very juicy, even slightly watery. You can add young leaves to salads or make an independent salad from them: finely chop the leaves, add dill, parsley, lemon balm, season with sour cream, mayonnaise or vegetable oil. Or a mixture of them. And do not forget to salt. It is also salted in barrels with bran using a special technology, fermented with pak-choy cabbage. I tried to ferment it with our usual white cabbage. It turned out amazingly tasty, there was a nutty flavor. Some varieties can be stewed and served with butter as a separate dish.
Daikon is considered a medicinal vegetable. It contains a lot of potassium, calcium, pectin, vitamins and enzymes that aid digestion. It is used for colds, for the proper functioning of the intestines, to cleanse the liver and kidneys from salt deposits.