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Use radishes, onions for fast food

Onions can be grown from seed, but you won't get them as fast as from sets or starts. Bunching onions, center, are green onions or scallions and will grow faster. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

These easy-to-grow favorites offer something edible in a hurry

Want quick gratification from your vegetable garden? Plant radishes and onions.

If you can find the seeds, Cherry Belle radishes
are a good choice for a quick crop. (Photo courtesy
Burpee Seeds)
The first is renowned as a fast-growing crop; Cherry Belles can be ready to pull in just 22 days.

Notoriously slow, onions are just the opposite; to reach full size, onions take months.

But onion sets – those little mini-bulbs – sprout almost immediately and grow edible-size greens within two weeks. A little later, they can be used as green onions (bulb and all).

Add a few lettuce transplants and you have salad makings in under a month.

Not all radishes are super-fast. Daikon and heirloom watermelon, for example, can take 60 days to reach maturity. Read the package or online description when planning your garden.

But their fast-sprouting quality makes radishes useful as living row markers.

From seed, plant one row of radishes parallel to a row of something slower to sprout, such as heirloom carrots, beets or bush beans. Space the radish row about 4 to 6 inches from the other row. The radishes will sprout quickly to remind you of the position of the other row. Harvest the radishes as they mature, usually weeks before their companions. That also allows more space for the developing veggies in that second row.

Or use the radishes to outline an area planted with squash or melons; again, the radishes will be long gone before the vines or bushes need their space.

This radish trick works best in spring and fall. Planted in summer, radishes often go directly to flower without forming an edible root.

Onions work well as a perimeter planting. Their fragrance wards off several kinds of bad bugs. If allowed to flower, their blooms attract abundant bees.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Feb. 18:

It's wet to start the week. When you do get outside, between or after storms, concentrate on damage control:

* Keep storm drains and gutters clear of debris.

* Clean up tree debris knocked down by wind and rain.

* Where did the water flow in your garden? Make notes where revisions are necessary.

* Are any trees leaning? See disturbances in the ground or lawn around their base? Time to call an arborist before the tree topples.

* Dump excess water out of pots.

* Indoors, start peppers, tomatoes and eggplant from seed.

* Lettuce and other greens also can be started indoors from seed.

* Got bare-root plants? Put their roots in a bucket of water until outdoor soil dries out. Or pot them up in 1- or 5-gallon containers. In April, transplant the plant, rootball and all, into the garden.

* Browse garden websites and catalogs. It’s not too late to order for spring and summer.

* Show your indoor plants some love. Dust leaves and mist to refresh.

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