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By Anne Marie Hunter | Published
For many summers when I was a child, I had a garden. It was a tiny garden, all my own. And, in my garden, I planted just one thing–radishes. I didn?t plant radishes because I liked to eat radishes. Far from it. I just loved to grow radishes. The idea that those humble brown seeds, nuggets smaller than peas and wrinkled all over, could grow into such beautiful, bright red vegetables, topped off with those lush, dark green leaves, was a marvel to me. ? During the spring, summer and fall, all of my brothers and sisters grew their own gardens, too. They planted more highly anticipated, admired crops such as juicy strawberries, treasured blueberries or pumpkins with those glamorous golden blossoms that transformed into orange horse carriages in October. Then, there were my radishes, which went pretty much unnoticed by everyone but me. ? My tiny patch of soil (at the back of our backyard), was about a square yard in size and tucked behind three immense-to-me pine trees. My big enterprise consisted of a hoe, a soup spoon for hole-digging and one package of Cherry Belle or Crimson Giant seeds. I loved the very beautiful radish drawings on the front of the packages. ? Barefoot weather and radish planting season arrived together in Kansas each year, toward the end of April. I was single-minded about my radish garden. As soon my Mom bought the seeds, I got to work. My first step was to clear the garden and make the dirt clump-free and ready to plant. I?d pick a sunny afternoon after school (they were all sunny then, it seemed), to clear rocks, slivers of brick and other winter leftovers. I tossed them across the fence into the neighbor?s yard or behind me–anywhere just to get the debris out of the way. ? Then, with my hands wrapped around the smooth wooden handle of a hoe twice my height, I broke up the lumpy light brown dirt until it was a soft dark brown, just right for nurturing those wrinkly little miracles. ? Time seemed suspended during the preparation and planting. When the dirt was ready, I used the soup spoon to dig the holes. They were about an inch deep and a couple of inches apart. I usually planted five or six rows. After the holes were dug, I opened the package and poured the seeds into my cupped palm, careful not to spill any, or as few as possible. I dropped the seeds, one at a time (or two or three), into the holes. Then, I pushed the dirt back over each hole. I watered them with several partially filled buckets, lugged from the hose spigot at the side of the house. When the planting was done. I stood and looked over my accomplishment, pretty proud of myself. ? The waiting began. Each day for several weeks, I walked out to my garden looking for that first up-and-out-of the-shadow-of-the-soil green leaf tip, promising that radishes were on their way. I watered them, forgetting only occasionally, I think. ? One package of radish seeds yielded weeks of magical harvests. Pulling radish bunches out of the ground captivated me. To my eye, they were shiny red perfection, flocked with the brown dirt that protected them as they burst out of their tiny hard-shelled, furrowed cocoons. With the latest bunch clasped in my hand, I would walk confidently inside and set them on the wood block island in the center of the kitchen. I walked around the island several times. Best bunch ever, I thought. Just amazing. ? I don?t remember much about the radishes after the harvest. I think they made their way into salads occasionally and my Dad liked them, too. But, my happiness had crested when they came out of the ground. ?