I have grown quite a few new relationships since joining the Grow Appalachia team. The garden group at BSCTC, Maggie and Kathleen at Pine Mountain Settlement School and my right hand man Todd Howard come to mind immediately. But one of my newest relationships is probably the weirdest—radishes.

It all began last year when I planted lace-leafed eggplant. No, that is not a new variety. It is what happens to eggplant when their arch-nemesis the flea beetle shows up, which from what I can see is every single time. I did some research and read that flea beetles were prolific little buggies with large appetites that will eat about anything. But their favorite things are eggplant and radishes.

With a little more research I learned about companion gardening—planting different plants together for the benefit of one or both of the plants. Some companions grow together well. Some deter pests. And some are sacrificial. In my garden, radishes fall under the last category.

This spring, I was gifted a great book on companion planting, Great Garden Companions: A Companion-Planting System for a Beautiful, Chemical-Free Vegetable Garden by Sally Jean Cunningham. This book is awesome. It tells which vegetables grow well together and which don’t. What to plant to attract “good bugs” and how to grow wide rows of vegetables, flowers and herbs together to act as “neighborhoods” that work together for the benefit of all. I know it sounds a little hokey but I am willing to try anything in the name of sustainable gardening. So I did.

These pictures are of my cabbage/broccoli raised bed planted Sally style. I planted the bed with cabbage and broccoli just like last year. But this time I added lettuce, onions and radishes.


This 10’x4′ bed has 12 broccoli and 18 cabbage plants in it


As you can see, there is no need for mulch in this bed. The lettuce and radishes take care of that.


Up close, lots of hole-y radish leaves but very few holes in the cabbage.

As the radish plants became infested, they were pulled out and thrown in the trash. Hence the term “sacrificial planting”. I was pleased with the spring trials of radish sacrifice. Next up, eggplant. I will let you know how it works out. By the way, if you notice in the first picture, I used row cover from planting to harvest on this bed and had NO cabbage worms. I love science.