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Radishes

To a six-year-old with a normal short attention span, radishes supplied the proper attitude toward growing

RADISHES
Radishes were the best. Not to eat, but to plant, raise and harvest.

To a six-year-old with a normal short attention span, radishes supplied the proper attitude toward growing: they were quick and reliable. Its spring, and the bright, clean, newly tilled soil of the garden plot lies ready for seeds and plants of all kinds. Seed potatoes would be the first to enter the ground; carrots, peas, string beans, squash, onions, bell peppers, tomatoes and radishes would follow. The choice of plants and seeds would depend on the appetites and needs of the family. For the young gardener, however, radish seeds had all the necessary element s for enthusiastic gardening. For one thing, the seeds had some size to them. Unlike those minute lettuce and onion seeds, the young hand could actually grasp individual radish seeds from the palm, plant them one by one, and space them properly in the furrow.

Also, radishes had an agreeable short life-span. Days after planting you could see the thin line of green beginning to ascend. They were often edible within three weeks. That reinforced the urge to give the whole garden proper attention. (Other plants, like watermelons, although fun to plant, have eternal histories which do not cease until fall when all enthusiasm for gardening has long vanished.) And they were red. (Those white, carrot- shaped ones don’t count) And they tasted—well, ok. The young pallet might not be eager for the taste of these tart, acidy-like things. (Were they really food?) But they were always the first to be harvested from the garden and deserved to be appreciated.

Radishes date back to the ancient Greeks and Romans and may be, considering the ease of their propagation, among some of the earliest plants domesticated by humans some 10,000 years ago. They are related to mustards and turnips and are of the Brassicaceae plant family.
Evidently, there are hundreds of varieties of radishes. Those big white Japanese things called daikon are also radishes. But to the young Midwestern gardener, however, those red, “early to rise” types are the only “true” radishes.
Author: EVM STAFF on 05/11 2009
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