Mission Accomplished – Radishes!


I’ve long held the belief that there are no green thumbs or black thumbs and that gardening is a process of learning and discovery with no peak or end goal. You can garden like a maniac your entire life and never know everything there is to be known. In fact I would say that the more I learn the less I realize I know. That sounds intimidating but it’s one aspect of this hobby/lifestyle that is most rewarding and optimistic. And knowing that you can’t possibly know everything there is to know should help to take some of the pressure off.

That said, I can say with absolute certainty that all gardeners have their weaknesses — there is always that one plant, that dirty little secret whose riddle just can’t be cracked. Mine used to be radishes. I know exactly how to grow them and if you had asked me I would have been able to explain exactly what they need without flinching. But when it came down to it I grew a pretty awful radish. I wrote about my radish problem in the You Grow Girl book because I wanted people to know that they should not give up on those embarassing failures and that it is sometimes one thing to understand what a plant needs on an intellectual level and another thing to apply that knowledge to a real plant.


And then low and behold, just last year I managed to grow my first crop of good container-grown radishes! And today, for a second year running, I have harvested my first tasty, crisp, not-at-all-woody container-grown radishes of the season. Woot! I’ve come to think that my radish mistake probably came down to my own insanely stubborn insistance on growing a variety that just couldn’t take the extra heat and drought on the deck. Again this was one of those instances where I KNEW what I should have been growing and had even appropriately advised many aspiring radish growers while stubbornly soldiering on in the wrong direction in my own garden.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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10 thoughts on “Mission Accomplished – Radishes!

  1. I grew my first radishes this season, and I love them because you can feel like you are accomplishing something so early in the season.

  2. They look gorgeous!So summery.
    I’ve been avidly reading your blog since I came across it two weeks ago and I just love it. I was looking for a gardening blog, as I’m a complete beginner and was gardening in the dark until I stumbled here.

    I’m all about the container growing now. Cheers!

  3. I mean this in the nicest possible way, but thank you for posting about your radish trails and tribulations because it made me feel so much better about my own “easy” plant issues.

    And congrats on some very beautiful radishes (worth the wait).

  4. What a great, and inspiring, post! I started vegetable gardening only last year, and while I successfully grew some plants there were many more flops. Interestingly, radishes seemed to be the “sure thing” for me, with anything in the brasica family totally failing. Before I gave up totally, I asked around and it turns out I need to increase the acidity in my soil for this category of vegetable. I’ll be trying these in containers this year! Thanks for the inspiration, Gayla!!!

  5. I tried for the first time to grow radishes this year and they were all leaf and nothing but a skinny red root, not like the picture on the package at all. Luckily my CSA set me up with lots of bunches of the Easter Egg variety, they are sooo good sliced with a thin slather of butter, then salt and pepper. My farmer said my soil may be too clayey or I didn’t thin them enough. I’m trying the container approach next year, for sure. Or maybe tommorrow! I love your live and learn approach to gardening!

  6. I came across your book in a coworker’s office (she’s friends with your editor, I believe) and HAD to read it. I just bought a home with a large backyard that has been meticulously tended by two gardeners and feel the need to keep it going. So I am experiencing a mixture of fear and excitement, and the more I read about gardening, the more overwhelmed I get (SO much to know!).
    I have always considered myself of the “black thumb” variety–i.e., I look at a plant and it dies. Even the plastic ones. Having grown up in San Diego, where everything is cactusy and transplanted, I never thought much of gardening anyway. Since I moved to the East Coast, I’ve been blown away by the way people go out every year and buy plants that just die… and then do it all over again.
    But your book so inspired me, and your blog continues to entertain and inspire. Your writing is not only fun and playful, but it’s informative and (ok, I’ll say it again) inspirational.
    In short, let me just say, YOU ROCK, as does your book.
    I definitely plan to lurk about here for a while to soak up as much gardening know-how as I can, and I look forward to your next publishing endeavor.
    You Grow, girl!

  7. I am in California (Bay Area) where everything seems to grow with no effort at all as long as there is plenty of water available in this semi-arid climate.
    We have sunflowers we never planted that “came by the wind” as Kristi likes to say.
    The radishes look wonderful, is it too late to plant?
    We are harvesting our tomatoes and zuchinni and everything is doing so well I want to add more to the garden.
    Any suggestions?

  8. Stuart: It depends on your climate. It’s best to grow radishes during the cooler times of the year. In my climate we do an early spring crop and a late summer/early fall crop. They tend to bolt and grow woody or not produce roots at all during the hot/dry seasons. Luckily they are a very fast crop and you can grow a lot in a short time by staggering the plantings out over a few weeks planting a few seeds at a time.

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