Generally talk about radishes refers to the bulbous root portion. 'Rat's Tail' radish is grown for its edible pod. It doesn't form much of a root, but the pencil-thin seed pods carry the same sizzling bite and crispness as traditional bulb radishes. They do look a little like a rat's tail, but that's just part of their charm.
All radish plants will form seed pods and they will be edible too. But a handful of radish varieties are bred specifically to put their deliciousness into their pods and they produce prodigious amounts of them. So you don't have to worry about the plants bolting and you can grow them all summer.
Edible podded radish plants look very similar to traditional radish plants except that the flowers are allowed to go to seed and form seed pods.
'Rat's Tail' radish are in the Brassicaceae or Cruciferae family and the leaves have wavy lobes. The plants don't produce a lot of foliage and can be floppy even before they start setting pods.
The flowers are pale pink and white and quickly develop into pods. While in flower, they attract all sorts of butterflies. As cruciferous vegetables, their four-petaled flowers from the familiar cross.
Raphanus sativus caudatus
Rat Tailed, Rat's Tail, Edible Podded Radish
USDA Hardiness Zones are generally incidental in vegetable gardens since most plants are grown as annuals. 'Rat's Tail' radish will go to seed in its first year.
The plants will grow and flower in full sun to partial shade but will do best if they receive at least six hours of sun per day.
24 - 48 in. (h) x 18 - 24 in. (w)
45 - 50 days to harvest. Once they start flowering, you'll get a steady supply of seeds.
Radishes are fast growers in general and edible-podded radishes are no exception. 'Rat's Tail' will produce for weeks, but to ensure a long harvest, succession plant at two-week intervals throughout the growing season. Unlike bulbing radishes, 'Rat's Tail' loves warm weather. Pods will form faster in heat and you'll need to harvest regularly or the plants will stop setting flowers.
'Rat's Tail' is the star of edible-podded radishes. You may find seeds that are simply labeled ‛Edible Podded' radish and it may have been some type of hybrid, but it should be very similar. ‛Munchen Bier' radish produces pungent pods as well as its long, white root.
You can use 'Rat's Tail' radish any way you'd use round, red radishes. They're also nice tossed into stir-fries, stews or any cooked dish that could use a little kick. They lose some of their pungency when cooked, but remain crunchy. The pods are also great pickled.
Soil: Radishes like a fairly neutral soil pH of around 6.0 to 7.0. Edible podded radishes are a bit more forgiving of soil because they are not forming underground bulbs.
These are sprawling plants with long, spindly stems. They will start to flop when the flowers open and need some type of support to lean against. Unless your soil is very poor, you should not need any supplemental fertilizer. More important is regular water, at least one inch per week, especially while the pods are forming. Once the pods start forming, keep them picked. Larger pods will get tough and unpalatable. If you keep harvesting, plants should continue to produce for four to eight weeks. However to ensure a long harvest, succession plant every two to three weeks.
If you plan to save seeds, do not let 'Rat's Tail' cross-pollinate with conventional radish varieties.
Pests & Problems
'Rat's Tail' is a quick grower and few pests attack the pods. Aphids and flea beetles can be a problem but can be hosed off or controlled with insecticidal soap.