Chadwick / Camp Joy Tomatoes

Chadwick Cherry or Camp Joy Tomatoes (Rareseeds.com)

When I last wrote about my little garden plot ten days ago, I had no idea that it was going to flourish even more in just that short period of time. My snow peas are going crazy (perfect for a stir fry I’m making tomorrow), I’ve had one of the tasty heirloom carrots (sweet and crunchy), the tomato plants are getting huge, my basil is getting to the point that I can start using it, and the cucumber plant is nuts. Green onions will be ready to start using this week, and I’m still getting lovely salads from the green leaf and red romaine lettuce. The only plants that have failed me? Jalapeño and green bell peppers.

What’s surprising me is that all of this is happening in about ten square feet. I decided when I bought the VegTrug that I would try some of the precepts found in a book called Square Foot Gardening. The idea behind that book is that you build small beds, turn them into square foot plots, and plant one crop per plot. With no traditional rows, there’s less space to weed and all of the space is full of plants going wild.

I’ve ended up with the best of both worlds: a garden that is dense with crops and that has required little or no weeding — I think the only items that I’ve actually pulled out of the garden have been volunteer plants from where I dropped a seed.

I’m not seeing many bugs, although I fear the dreaded tomato worm once the tomato plants get to the point that they’re bearing fruit. There were a few little creepy-crawlies on some of the lettuce, but they seemed to be just wandering around, not eating the lettuce at all.

I’m also using heirloom seeds from a company called Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. The specific plants I have planted are as follows: “Emily” basil, Danvers 126 half-long carrot, Marketmore 76 cucumber, Red Romaine Lettuce, Gentilina Lettuce, Ishikura Onion, Vulgare Oregano, Sugar Snap Pea, California Wonder Pepper, Tam Jalapeño Pepper, and the Camp Joy Tomato. A great company to order from online — the seeds arrived in about three days after I ordered them.

What am I going to do differently next year? Probably three things:

  1. Get a second VegTrug and try some other crops
  2. Set up automatic watering
  3. Start some of my plants inside in April

The auto-watering is pretty much a necessity, since there will be a period where I’ll be out of town for a while and still want the plants to thrive. Of course, if it hails I won’t be able to do anything about that, but I certainly want to make sure that I have a way of knowing just how wet or dry the soil is and that I can keep it perfectly damp.