Hope and Radishes

Hope and Radishes

Kevin McKelvey, Assistant Professor, English Dept., University of Indianapolis

I’m finally planting our garden this week. Yes, I know it’s mid-July. But we recently moved to this house, and it took us awhile to design our landscape plan.

We’re using raised beds because we live in a 140-year-old neighborhood. Lead is almost certainly in our soil, and it may be the least of our worries. I’ll dig out some of the underlying soil so I can use smaller boards to achieve my 12-inch height for good roots. I also plan on planting grafted fruit trees, blueberries and raspberries, so I’ll dig out where their roots will creep.

I look forward to the artifacts I might find when digging in these plots, plots that have been in these yards since after the Civil War. With those artifacts, I can recreate a past for this yard. I’ll fill my new holes and raised beds with manure, peat moss, whatever vegetable scraps or grass clippings I can find, newspaper maybe, some bat guano, some bone meal and good dirt. Recreating the soil creates a new past.

So I expect a lot of vegetables in September and October. I’m hopeful. I tell myself gardeners are planting second crops now, maybe even thirds. Gardeners are a hopeful bunch, but planting a garden in mid-July involves more procrastination and delirium than hope. A plant’s number of days to maturity becomes even more relevant now. The summer doesn’t stretch out before me like in May; summer is nearly over. It’s hot. I have to water. I have to beat the frost. I have to have a garden.

I hope local stores haven’t thrown out their yellowed, haggard tomatoes, peppers or squash so that I can give them a home and resurrect them to green. I know we have time now for beans, carrots, beets, radishes and herbs. In late August, I’ll plant lettuce, peas, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, other cold-weather plants and radishes again. My triumph this summer is not only establishing these beds–finally–but also growing two crops of radishes. Yes, radishes.

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