Thinning the radi

Just seven days after I had planted the tiny seeds in mid-April, my radishes were sprouting.

This is what they looked like two weeks after I planted the radishes from seed. I planted the onions from onion bulbs, or sets, on the same day. Photo courtesy of Trevor Eischen
This is what they looked like two weeks after I planted the radishes from seed. I planted the onions from onion bulbs, or sets, on the same day. Photo courtesy of Trevor Eischen

At the beginning of May, the leaves were lush and green and fighting for space like beautiful Miss America contestants on the back row of the podium.

Three weeks after planting, my radishes were ready. For all my seeds, I used the directions on the back of the seed packet to mark planting and harvesting dates on my calendar. Photo courtesy of Trevor Eischen
Three weeks after planting, my radishes were ready. For all my seeds, I used the directions on the back of the seed packet to mark planting and harvesting dates on my calendar. Photo courtesy of Trevor Eischen

Since my Missouri alumni calendar I received in the mail last Fall (really pounding in the post-grad depression, Mizzou) showed in pencil that the radishes were ready for harvest, I went out my front door expecting a fruitful and brilliant crop.

Dear readers, I am a beginning farmer. I was always around to eat what my mom and grandparents had sown, but I was never too involved in the process. The morning of my radish harvest, I realized I had missed one step of gardening that I later learned through YouTube videos and online forums was a crucial one: thinning. So when my mom commented on my boyfriend’s pictures of my lush garden on Facebook telling me to “thin them herbs,” she wasn’t just making a sarcastic comment about how well and beautiful they were growing.

So on the first of May, when my radishes were supposed to be ready for harvest, I pulled one up and was disappointed to find that it looked like this:

Thin as a baby earthworm.
Thin as a baby earthworm.

Reluctantly, I tore out some weaklings to give the stronger ones space to grow nice and big. I was reminded of something I learned in writing classes in college: you must kill your darlings. As a writer and a person, I have a hard time saying goodbye. Goodbye to people I care about, goodbye to that perfect sentence that I spent an hour on but just doesn’t fit, and goodbye to those radish babies that had poked their way up from little tiny seeds that I had sprinkled ¼” under the soil just a few weeks ago.

I left four radish plants in my pot. I even pulled one onion out to give everyone some space for a lap around the pool if needed. Now they better be beautiful, the little drama queens.

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