I harvested my first radish yesterday. It’s a miracle.
Now most normal people would not lavish such praise on the humble radish. However, after a Master Gardener’s course, an internship at a permaculture farm, four years subscription to Mother Earth News and Organic gardening, countless gardening books and clinics, hundreds of dollars of seeds, fencing and other “gear,” thousands of dollars of fine farmland and five years of my life devoted to the project, I’ve finally actually produced something I can eat.
If anybody is not up to speed, please feel free to review my previous posts titled, “Gardening for the Apocalypse,” and “More Adventures in Gardening,” documenting my monumental brown thumb and complete inability to harbor a vegetable or fruit-bearing plant to the point of food production.
A radish puts the bar pretty low, as edible plants go. As Joanie pointed out yesterday, it only takes 20 days to grow a radish, and they can put up with pretty marginal conditions. To further point out my embarrassing lack of skill in this area, I didn’t even know I had any growing in that bed. I was weeding the lettuce patch the other day and noticed this purple bulbous thing pushing up out of the soil. Have to admit I jumped back a little when I saw it, wondering if it was some weird soil creature of the Pacific Northwest everybody forgot to mention.
I honestly thought the radishes were in another bed with the cabbages, celery and cauliflower, so it never occurred to me it could be anything but an obscure heirloom variety of lettuce with a bulbous root system.
Two days later I was back weeding and noticed there were several of the little suckers shouldering their way out of the soft soil. Some were purple, others red and even a white one. Then it struck me that I’d planted multi-colored radishes and I finally put two and two together. So I pulled a couple, proudly showed them to Grant and then had to take a picture.
I think my poor husband thought I’d finally lost the last of my few remaining marbles. But I couldn’t help it. They reminded me of little Christmas ornaments. And it felt like Christmas. I wanted to grab Grant for a little jig around the camper singing Kenny Chesney’s, “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” at the top of my lungs.
I sliced the purple one and put it on our salad that night. Now after reading to this point, you’re probably convinced I’m extremely biased in my radish evaluation. And you’re probably right. But I have to say that was the best damned radish I’ve ever eaten in my life.
I’d almost forgotten what it is life to eat something off your own land. It’s as if by eating from the land you are becoming part of the land. I feel that connection in many ways. A couple of days ago I was hunkered down over a wild strawberry patch over by the pond, wondering when the berries would be ready, and I saw an earthworm inch past. Amazing. It’s a miracle. Nature at her finest.
The potatoes are going gangbusters, there are blueberries on the bushes, the strawberries are starting to turn red and if all my tomatoes produce I’m going to be buried. Aunt Nell has already offered to come up and teach me how to can this summer. I’m heartened by my early radish victory. If these crunchy little gems are any indication, I might just be able to finally call myself a gardener.
Lindsey and Michael, you would be proud.