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dragon tails seeds

Dragon tails seeds

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Thus far, I have used them to add a zesty radishlike tang to salads and stir fries. They also can be pickled.

I manage a local community garden, and this season I tried out an heirloom crop that I have never grown before—or heard of for that matter: Dragon tail radishes. As their name suggests, they are related to true radishes, along with turnips, garden cress, and other popular crops. Unlike radishes and turnips, though, dragon tails are grown for their tasty purple seed pods.

Dragon tail radishes couldn’t be easier to grow. Give them a spot in full sun, average soil, and direct sow seeds right in the garden. Water regularly until seedlings are up. Plants spread 1 to 2 feet at maturity, so thin seedlings accordingly. I have found that plants grown in a singe row, rather than a block, are easier to harvest. Mature plants are about 3 feet tall. You can prune out older branches to keep the plants blooming through the summer months.

A blog about a garden and gardening on Maryland's Eastern Shore

The crisp, tender pods have a radish-like taste. The best pods are much thinner than green beans. As they become thicker and longer, they become spicier. The largest ones are quite hot. In my kitchen, I use the really slender pods fresh in salads. Slender pods also are fine in stir fries. The thicker, spicier ones taste great in combinations that feature garlic, hot sauce, and other similar ingredients.

The plants are really stunning, and this heirloom crop would be right at home in a flower garden. I wish I had remembered to take pictures of the plants at the peak of bloom, when seedpods were just beginning to appear! Not only do the plants produce clouds of white and pinkish flowers that wave in the breeze, the purple pods and stems also are attractive. Furthermore, the flowers attract loads of butterflies. Yes, our plants primarily attracted clouds of cabbage white butterflies, but still they are really pretty!

ABOVE: Pod production on our plants got ahead of us this week, because I’ve been away visiting gardens with the Annapolis Horticultural Society. Nevertheless, I picked several pounds to deliver to St. Martin’s Ministries food pantry tomorrow. There will be more pods ready to pick on the plants in a day or so.

Dragon Tail Radishes

I would like to thank Burpee Seeds for sending me seed of dragon tail radishes to try in the garden. Several other seed houses, including Baker Creek offer a similar crop called rat-tail radishes, which produce green seedpods.

Above: The pods are best picked when they are slender—less than the width of a pencil, although if you like your salad or stir fry ingredients on the spicy side, slightly thicker is fine. Length can vary from about 3 inches to more than 12 inches.

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Description

Germination Information: Sow the seeds 1/8″ to 1/4″ deep, right where you want them to grow. Start them in mid spring for a summer crop, or in mid- to late summer for a fall harvest.

Dragon’s tail radish (Raphanus sativus var. caudatus ‘Dragon’s Tail’ or ‘Dragon Tail’) is very different from a “normal” radish—in appearance, anyway. Instead a plump, crispy, edible root, it produces 2- to 4-foot tall stems with an abundance of light pink to purple flowers that mature into long, knobbly, tapered seedpods. For best eating, harvest the pods when they are still young, crisp, and thinner than a pencil. Steam them like green beans, use them in a stir-fry, chop them into a salad, or pickle them. The young leaves and the flowers are also edible; bees and butterflies love them too! The stems can get long and sprawly, so consider giving the plants a tomato cage or some other kind of support, particularly if you want to leave some of the pods to mature on the plants so you can collect seed. Full sun to light shade. Annual.