A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Spring is here. The sun is shining. It’s 55 degrees outside.

Radishes and peppercress have been planted…and the bugs have emerged.

The thyme that had nearly made it through its indoor winter has been ravaged by aphids. A trip to the basement revealed the lone bag of organic soil crawling with what appear to be fungus gnats.  The thyme has been rinsed and then doused with soapy water. Fingers have been crossed.

Unable to toss away an entire bag of soil, it’s time to give sterilizing a shot. Because it’s very, very rarely used, the microwave lives conveniently in the basement, just above the infested soil. Perfect. A quick visit to the interweb reveled that the trick is to heat the soil to 150-190 degrees (anything over 200 degrees causes toxicity in the soil).

Armed with a kitchen scale, one quart measuring cup, and an instant read thermometer (don’t tell the husband/cook),  POD discovered that 1:30 to 1:45 in the ancient, tiny microwave heated a one-pound bag of soil to the desired creepy-crawly killing temperature.

Here’s the question, though: should the seeds that were just started be ditched and re-seeded in sterilized soil?

Radish Up

The harvest has begun and I couldn’t be happier. I planted wee radish seeds at the beginning of April (I wished I’d done it far earlier – like in February) and already we’re enjoying crisp, peppery veggies on freshly picked lettuce. For some strange reason my husband and I always thought we hated the little red guys. Turns out they’re pretty awesome.

(Not to mention, the easiest vegetable I’ve ever raised.)

If your growing space is limited, radishes provide a terrific early rotational crop. I scammed about 50 seeds off my mother for this year’s experiment and they all germinated within days and are producing small (think atomic fireballs) crisp veggies. I planted them about an inch and a half apart in the shallow planters that will be filled with lettuce and heirloom carrots now that the radishes have had their day.

These guys like the cold so I’ll probably plant them again in October, after everything has been pulled for the winter. Philly’s in zone 7-8 and enjoys fairly mild winters — as compared to Michigan, at least — so I may have found a year-round crop.

Next year I’ll even buy my own. I’m thinking French Breakfast?