Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Garden's Not Ready Yet for Radishes, but Flatbreads Are Miriam's Garden

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Garden's Not Ready Yet for Radishes, but Flatbreads Are Miriam's Garden

Article excerpt

Welcome to my garden. This year, as always, radishes will be the first seeds to be planted, if the ground ever dries out.

Radishes grow fast, some in as quick as 22 days. They're one of the first vegetables to pop up, about the same time as the early lettuce.

All this bleak winter, as each late snowflake fell, I've been waiting to toss together a real garden salad. Maybe I'll herb it up with chives or garlic greens or add a bit of just-sprouting dill. As I write this, it feels so late for spring to get started.

All radishes are not round and all are not red, just as everything that grows in spring isn't green. Yes, the grass is and so are the fields. But spring also gives us the shock of yellow daffodils, dandelions and forsythia; the orangey-pink quince blooms; and the silky purple-pink magnolia and paler pink peach blossoms. Out my window, at the bird feeder, I see a screaming yellow goldfinch. Maybe green is the background color of spring that sets off all these other hues.

Radishes are a brassica, a member of the cabbage family and related to turnips. A very old vegetable, its roots has been traced to northern China, and it was planted by early Greeks. In his newly revised "Heirloom Vegetable Gardening," William Woys Weaver notes, "Radishes once appeared at the early American table at every meal."

Thanks to the renewed interest in heirloom vegetables, we can again find radishes in a rainbow of colors. These include white 'Hailstone' and 'Icicle' radishes, the yellow-hued 'Zlata' and exotic purple 'Amethyst' radish. There's the old-fashioned round black Spanish radish, which you can grate, mix with schmaltz and spread on rye, and trendy watermelon radishes, white to light green outside and nearly magenta inside. These both take longer to grow and are sowed midsummer for fall harvest. Asian radishes such as daikon are usually quite large and white, but they also vary in size and color. Spicy or mild, they are generally sowed in late spring.

Ready to plant in my garden is my favorite, the elongated white-tipped 'French Breakfast' radish, plus 'Easter Egg' radishes, a pastel mix of fat, round, purple, red and white roots. …

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