The Sweet Expectation Of Planting Robust Radishes

By March 15 we sow them, the weekend between snow and rain, between departure of the geese and return of the ospreys. We scatter tan, round radish seeds along with spinach, lettuce, peas. The theory is, insects will go for radish leaves, ignore our nascent salad.

And in this plundered plot, a battlefield all winter - barbed briars, exploding burrs, lance stalks that mark Jerusalem artichokes like mines in mud - it's good to see those dark-green pairs of thumbnail seedlings break through clods.

Rabbits, deer, and woodchucks nibble spinach, peas, and lettuce to the quick, and like the bugs, ignore our radishes.

We can't. They're ready first. We yank, boast about our robust Crimson Globes, White Icicles that look like carrots bleached. We plant, replant, till friends complain midsummer that our crop burns the tongue. Radishes, forgotten, double, swell to baseballs, split, bolt, blossom lilac-white.

Last June we planted Oriental Diakons guaranteed to grow three feet in length or depth. By August, they'd dug in too deep for scrutiny or harvesting, then disappeared.

Enough of radishes!

But soon, as programmed as the migratory birds, we'll sow more Raphanus sativus.

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