This Is My Radish

My first harvest

There are many like it, but this one is mine. I pulled it out of a small garden I am growing in an under-used flower bed in front of my house. It was one of sixteen growing in an area a foot on a side. This area is part of a larger grid, four feet on a side, which I put together back in the early part of April. The grid is in a box made of cheap pine boards, eight inches in height, and filled with good potting soil. It is one of two such boxes in the old flower bed.

I have been growing food here in downtown-ish Grand Rapids since the summer of 2006. That year it was hot peppers in pots. The next year was peppers and tomatoes in pots. Last summer I ripped up all of the plants I had put in previously – including prickly-pear cactus and indestructible yucca – and planted hot peppers and tomatoes in the flower bed. The peppers loved it, but the tomatoes did poorly. Grand Rapids soil tends toward sand and clay, especially in the proximity of old houses.

This year I tore out everything except two burning bushes and put in two square-foot garden boxes, each of them four feet on a side. Three days ago I filled in the last square in the grid with a small strawberry plant I purchased at the Fulton Street Farmer’s Market the day before.

For peppers and tomatoes, I purchased some specialty seeds from thai birds-eyes, tabasco, and bishop’s crown. All of the tabasco sprouted, four of the thai, and none of the Bishop’s crown. I also have some Japanese Black Tomatoes, which are doing nicely.

So here is what I have growing in the boxes.

East box:

Garden Box East, 2009.05.23

  • butternut squash – 1
  • black tomatoes – 2
  • green onions – 25
  • Lilac bell pepper – 1
  • Tabasco pepper – 2
  • Beets – 9
  • Radishes – 16
  • Carrots – 16
  • Spinach – 9
  • Broccoli – 4

West box:

Garden Box West, 2009.05.23

  • Beefsteak tomatoes – 2
  • Zucchini – 1
  • Tabasco pepper – 1
  • Jalapeno pepper – 1
  • Strawberry – 1
  • Green onion – 25
  • Buttercrunch lettuce – 4
  • Pak Choi – 1
  • Swiss chard – 4
  • India mustard – 4
  • Beets – 9
  • Radishes – 16
  • Spinach – 9
  • Carrots – 16


  • Cilantro – 4
  • Dill – 4
  • Parsley – 4
  • Okra – 2
  • Basil – 2
  • Thai peppers – 3
  • Kale – 4
  • Tabasco peppers – 4

I also have a few more peppers and tomatoes sprouting, as well as around a dozen Goji plants, for which I have high – if perhaps unrealistic – hopes.

My goal, other than to have a steady supply of fresh produce for the next several months, is to break even. That is, I want the retail value of the food I pull out of my garden to equal the money I put into the supplies and infrastructure.The potting soil was the most expensive part of the project, but also the most important. Using the square-foot gardening techniques has made this whole endeavor quite manageable for one person and, so far, the maintenance take about fifteen minutes a day.

Yesterday I harvested the rest of my radishes, a total of 32, at around an ounce each. So: two pounds of radishes. The greens are quite good sauteed in olive oil and sprinkled with Chipolte seasoning, The bulbs, of course, are excellent raw.

I will check out prices the next time I hit the Farmer’s Market, and see what it would have cost to buy two pounds of radishes. Not much, I expect, but I have already re-planted, and should be able to get three or four more harvests this year.

I will post updates as more plants mature. You can see the rest of my garden photos here on Flickr.

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