Sunday, January 09, 2011

January 2011: One Seed Chicago: Radish Love

"We've got this thing that's called Radish Love
We're growing veggies in the soil: Radish Love"

As an avid reader, I'm a big fan of the One Book, One Chicago program. This program from the Chicago Public Library "seeks to cultivate a culture of reading in our city by reinforcing the importance and fun of reading and highlighting the benefits of reading together as a community." People can participate at whatever level makes them happy, from simply reading the selected book to joining in discussion groups. At best, the shared reading experience engages readers in conversation and a sense of community, and at worst people have read a great book that they might not have read otherwise.
There is another opportunity for fun, learning, and shared experience: One Seed Chicago. One Seed Chicago is a project of NeighborSpace, the land trust that has made community gardening possible all across the city. The goal of One Seed Chicago is to engage gardeners and inspire new gardeners by providing seeds for a plant that we can all grow together, in our home gardens, on our balconies, in our community garden plots. In other words, to cultivate a culture - of gardening.

In 2010 three candidate plants--bee balm, nodding onion, and coneflower, all Illinois natives--were put to a vote. I voted for, and lobbied for, nodding onion, in honor of the connection between Chicago and the stinky oniony leek plant that gave it its name. The bee balm won despite my best efforts but that's okay; bee balm is a fantastic plant!
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This year the candidates are edible plants: radish, eggplant, and Swiss chard. Eggplants and chard are undeniably beautiful plants, but I voted for radishes and I encourage you to as well!

Why radishes? Well, because they taste awesome, crispy and peppery. Pull them from the soil, rinse them, and eat them. For greens lovers, the greens are edible, too. Why else? They're so easy! Last year my husband and I built a raised garden and grew food for the first time.
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It was not 100% successful (I'm looking at you, green peppers!) but the radishes made me feel like a gardening rock star and their success convinced me to keep trying with other plants. Radishes grow fast, they taste great, and they're so easy even a kid, or a distracted grad student, can grow them. Talk about a great gateway plant for a fledgling gardener. Plus, if you're like me and don't like to cook, radishes are edible right from the ground. And they're pretty!
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Imagine a whole city growing the same plant and reading the same book. We can't agree on a baseball team or whether Rahm Emanuel is a Chicago resident, but we can unite in these two activities and improve ourselves in the process.

So go, vote RADISH now!

7 comments:

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

Radishes are easy, that's for sure! They're also awesome to winter sow, thought he timing of the contest doesn't happen to coincide with that. Also, I had no idea OSC was sponsored by the library, thanks for mentioning that. I'm a huge library fan!
P.S. Still, I voted for eggplant.

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

P.S. I've never had luck with green peppers, either, which bums me out. I love them and you don't even have to cook them! (Lol, I admit that's a big benefit of radish and chard, too!)

Diane said...

My green peppers finally yielded fruits right at the end of the growing season and I ended up with a whole bunch of tiny tiny peppers :((( Maybe I should try winter sowing them? I bought them as plants last year.

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

I did winter sow mine and they came up, but then were eaten by certain groundhogs!!!

garden girl said...

I haven't voted yet, but the radish definitely gets my vote. It was my gateway garden veggie the first time my family had a garden after moving to the 'burbs from the city when I was a kid. We moved in spring and radishes were the first thing we planted. I loved them then, and have loved them since - fast-growing, delicious first fruits of the veggie gardening season!

rambleonrose said...

No way! Vote for Chard! It seems that radish is going to be the favorite, judging by posts so far.

Rose said...

I just came over from Rose's post, and I have to admit I was swayed by her argument for chard. But I see your point, Diane; radishes are certainly one of the easiest vegetables to grow. When I was a kid, I used to make a radish sandwich--sliced radishes on top of buttered bread. Maybe that recipe will make a comeback now:)

I remember visiting the community garden during Spring Fling 09; this is such a great idea, I'm glad Chicago is keeping up the project.