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agriculture, radishes, cultivation, recipes, radish varieties, folklore, folk cures
A handwritten manuscript entitled, "Radishes! - "De Reddich!", compiled by Victor C. Dieffenbach, dated July 27, 1953. Within, Dieffenbach details a number of different radish cultivation techniques, anecdotes and the various uses one could have for the crop.
Packet 577-214-7 to 577-214-12
Radishes! – “De Reddich!”
Radishes should be sowed early in the Spring, so I dare not keep them on a back-seat any longer.
“Un mer doot see net saya - mer doot see schtecka”! (One does not sow them, but stick ‘em in the ground.)
“Ich hob gewaint Ich het de Isabella Moyer haira sell sawga!“ (I thought I heard Isabella Moyer say that.)
The old folks would always plant a row of radishes all around a bed in the garden; by the time the other crops were ripe these radishes had gone where all good radishes go - down the hatch!
Dad would take a few seeds between thumb and fore-finger and scatter them all over a band or bed; these would grow big, and they could easily be seen while weeding and hoeing. Sometimes he would drop a few seeds in a row of beans, potatoes or whatever he would be planting; the radishes would be up in a week's time, and one could easily see the location of the row, and follow it, thus keeping it clean and free of weeds while the spuds were still sleeping. If we had more than our needs required, - well - the neighbors would never refuse them. And all the delicious cakes cookies, candy, nuts, and even a few kisses I got peddling all those crisp radishes over the country-side. Well do I remember Dad saying that he had not sprayed that many seeds in that bed. “Ei, see shtavia yoe we de hoar uffem hundt!” (Oh, they stand like the hair on a dog!)
I could easily have explained the cause of this increase, had I wanted to; since I loved these radish-journeys as I called them, I had supplemented Dad’s seeding by a liberal sprinkling of my own, on the sly.
Radishes will grow in almost any soil; they will respond to clean tillage, and to extra fertilizers. But if stable manure is used it should be well spaded down, and evenly distributed; for if a radish is growing straight down and then it feels a big lump of manure about six inches to one side, it will start growing over towards it; the resulting radish will resemble a corkscrew more than anything else.
Radishes as a food are considered to be very healthful, but will cause disagreeable digestive disturbances with some people. One day when old Molly Gerber came on some errand Grandma told me to go and fetch some radishes for Molly to take along home. She beamed and smiled when I brought them in. Then she said - : “Now muss Ich deer eppes fertsaila, Ketty!” (Now I must tell you something, Katy!)
Then she related of the nice boy-friend she had one time; and of how they broke up on account of his eating radishes.
“Oh, dar hut gshtunka no och reddich, olla Sumsht dawg-owvet! Un 's iss ols schlimmer worra we Ich gshulda hob no hut er gsawdt: “see sin so goot; un see worra ols graiser, un no fress Ich eva ols mainer!” Un no hut er mich uffsei shose ga numma, un mer hen so en gooty tzeit cot, un no hut er uff shtosa missa, un -“ (Oh he stank of radishes every Saturday evening. And it kept getting worse, and when I scolded he said they get bigger and I eat more! And then he would take me on his lap and we had a nice time, and then he had to belch, and -“)
“Wos husht do gadoo uff seim shore?” (What did you do on his lap?) I asked Molly.
“Do gaisht un bisht rooich! Do bisht nuch feel tsu rutsich, un awe tsu schnofflich!” (You go and shut up! You are much too snoddy and too inquisitive!) she said.
“Un owver er hut net usht uff-gshtosa; waisht reddich de shoffa unnershich! Un seiney hen awe; un mull a owvet no bin Ich des ding laidich worra. Ich hob gsaudt won ar mainer denka doot fun da ferdarrebta reddich os fun meer don suller dohame bleiva by seina reddich, un er brouch nimmy cooma; er iss awe net, owver der Yooney iss no cooma. Usht der Yooney con ken reddich raisa os we seller onner kerl hut!“ (But he didn’t just belch; you know radishes work downwards, and one night I got tired of it and I told him if he thought more of his radishes than of me he could stay with them and let me alone - he need not come anymore; and he didn’t, but then Jonathan came. But Jonathan can’t raise radishes like he could!)
There are many different varieties of radishes; the earliest are the tiny round globes - “see gooka os we glaina roada glicker!” (They look like little red marbles.) Then the French Breakfast have a white bottom and root; then there is a long red called Chartier; and the long white icicle that look like they came from the eaves. The White Box are round and very mild; they look like a turnip. In July is the time for the winter varieties; the white or rose china are alike except the color varies. They should not be too near in the row; if given plenty of room, I have had them up to several pounds in weight, and they are very brittle and juicy. They can also be buried in a pit for the winter.
While engaged as a working man or laborer on the Bell Telephone Co. gang years ago, I had some very big white China radishes; we had a big Irishman for a boss, and he had never seen anything like them; so he would swap anything for just a piece of a radish. I could have made a fortune did I have enough radishes and Irishmen.
Radishes are supposed to be good for nervous disorders, for the gall, and the liver.
The old folks would insist that if the bride ate a big red radish on her wedding night, or for her very first meal after she was married, then her first child would be born nine months later, and would be a boy.
Radishes, if boiled until soft and then crushed and put on as a poultice, will draw out a boil, or cause it to come to a head. For the ne plus ultra in radishes as a food, cut, chip, dice or slice; add some broken-up crackers and a liberal supply of melted butter poured over; sprinkle with salt, and chill, or slightly freeze. It will also make a wonderful sandwich-filling; if some browned bacon is added and/or a sprinkling of cheese. It will be found to be advantageous not to gorge on the dish, as it is very apt to form gas.
Radishes can also be kept over winter if they are buried in a trench in the ground below frost-line, or thirty inches below the surface. We one time put some in an old milk-can full of soil, and put it in a hole, and then built the manure pile over it. The following Spring the young shoots were growing out of a hole in the can where the handle had been torn loose. They were unfit for eating, being mildewed and wilted; but they grew and formed a crop of seed when planted.
There is a very pernicious weed called by many wild radish - (“wildta reddich”) but they are in fact a species of wild mustard, and no radish is connected with it; but the real radish, if left to go to seed and then left to themselves for a number of years, they will be worse than some weeds, to eradicate.
July 27th, 1953 Der Oldt Bauer.
English and Pennsylvania German
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Dieffenbach, Victor C., "Dieffenbach on Radishes, July 27, 1953" (1953). Alfred L. Shoemaker Folk Cultural Documents. 255.
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