Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bloomin' Tuesday: Rat tail Radish Spotlight

Happy Bloomin' Tuesday!
I'm joining MsGreen "thumb" Jean for Bloomin' Tuesday! Come join in or see others!

Because my computer is dead (lightening), I'm using hubby's laptop in the evening, so my pics are repeats, but this is more info on a super cool plant.

Also known as 'aerial' radishes, these plants produce seed pods that are very radishy, and good for fresh or stir-fry (haven't tried stir fry yet:). They have pretty white, pink or purplish blooms. My little 2' plants are covered with pods. It loves heat and humidity (both are exactly what we have here in ETexas), gets anywhere from 2' to 6' tall all parts are edible (blooms and seed pods being the best tasting parts). Seed starting was easy, and next time I will stake them in a tomato cage. I plan on keeping them going this summer to see how they really preform in our heat. More info at the bottom.

Rat-tail Radish in bloom and forming seed pods (click for close up)

Zesty rat-tail radishes (Raphanus caudatus) are easy to grow and make a novel and delicious salad ingredient. While I'm not crazy about the name, I love the crisp, spicy seedpods.

SITING: Plant seed in full sun on well-drained soil. Rat-tail radish grows 2-5 feet tall and about 1 foot wide, so place them appropriately. Plants with green pods usually produce yellow flowers; those with purple or purple-streaked pods, pink flowers.

PLANTING: Sow from mid-June to early August for the best crops; unlike other radishes, rat-tail thrives in summer heat.

Before planting, thoroughly weed the bed and dig in 3 inches of compost, plus a half cup of balanced organic fertilizer per 10 square feet of soil. Direct-sow the seeds 6-9 inches apart to prevent crowding and half an inch deep. Thin seedlings to about 12-18 inches apart, and eat the young thinnings.

CARE: Once the plants are several inches tall, add a 1- to 2-inch mulch to help preserve soil moisture and to suppress weeds. Rat-tail radishes must be grown fast to maintain their quality for eating. Skimping on water or fertilizer will produce smaller, hotter, fibrous pods. Radish beds should not be allowed to dry out, so check them often; the soil should be cool and dark. One inch of water a week should suffice. I always follow up with a dilute application of fish and kelp when plants are about 30-40 days old.

PESTS: Control insects such as flea beetles by using a Reemay row cover or multiple rotenone-pyrethrin sprayings. Root maggots can be kicked out of the kitchen, too, with a row cover, fast-growing plants and by harvesting as soon as possible.

HARVEST: Pick the seedpods when they are mild, crisp and 6-12 inches long, usually 50-60 days from sowing. Harvest of smaller pods can begin earlier. Test for crispness by snapping the pod in two. The pods begin to become dry, fibrous and harsh-tasting quickly after reaching harvest age. Harvest them regularly to keep them coming. Use them immediately, or dampen the inside of a Ziploc bag, put the pods inside, leaving the bag partly open, and store in the refrigerator for a day or so. After trimming off the stem, the entire pod can be eaten in stir-fries or salad, pickled or with a dip. Young leaves can be harvested from well-grown, vigorous plants.


• Succession-plant more seed every couple of weeks.

• Harvest some of the radish flowers as well to add to salads.

• Conventional root-producing radishes also produce edible pods but are more prone to premature bolting. Large-rooted varieties usually produce large pods.


Nichols Garden Nursery, Albany, 800-422-3985

Also check seed racks at garden centers.

--Vern Nelson; thehungrygardener@yahoo.com



Unknown said...

Very interesting plant!

Susan said...

Interesting. Never heard of these.

DP Nguyen said...

The rat-tail radish is so pretty! I hope you enjoy eating them in your salad this year!

Brenda Pruitt said...

That time of year when things are blooming and ready for harvest. About to get really hot. Already humid as can be. Don't know how the plants keep from crumpling in it.

Elizabeth-Plain and Simple said...

I have never heard of this plant. But it sounds very interesting. I like the fact that it is pretty and all parts are edible. Thanks for sharing all the info.


Jean said...

I've never heard of these. I'm not a radish lover but it sure is an interesting plant! Jean

Wanita said...

Like others have said, I've never heard of these interesting plants. Thanks for sharing.

Thanks, too, for visiting my blog.

Aiyana said...

I've never heard of rat-tail radish. I'm always looking for new and different salad ingredients, so I need to check and see if they will grow here in the Arizona desert.

Jane Ellis said...

The best way to support your tomato plants is with The Tomato Stake.

Easier to use than metal cages or upside down planters, stronger than bamboo and won't rot like wood stakes. The built-in twist-tie supports make tying your tomato plants easy!

Mimi said...

Great radish info.

Thanks for stopping by my blog & helping to make my SITS day special!

TJ said...

What a cool plant! I have seen these before, but didn't know what they were.

Thanks for the well-wishes! I haven't been online much, so I missed bloomin Tuesday until today. We don't know about the babies genders yet, but Mo is having boys ;) He and his sister have been arguing over what I'm going to have. We find out soon though, June 9th!

Nola said...

I like radishes because they are easy and early. I may have to try some of those, I've never heard of them before! Something new every day, who knew I'd find a new type of radish?

Rowena said...

Thanks for the info. I started some this year but wasn't sure when I was supposed to harvest them. Of course I could not resist tasting a couple (right now they are wee little things at 3 inches long) and was surprised at the superb radish flavor. Can't wait to save some for seed for next year!

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These pictures are so beautiful.
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