The Veggie Patch

 Dear Henry,

The second bed we placed was one for vegetables. This bed runs approximately 25 feet along the north fence line, is one foot deep, and is three feet across. This spot gets sun almost all day, and it seemed like the perfect place for the garden now that the drain was installed.

I felt like we were racing against time to get to the garden, although, in reality, I was a bit early. The last average frost date for the area is April 4th, and I had everything planted before the 15th. However, the late spring storms meant that I was tarping the garden several times, and, in hindsight, I wondered if I should have worked on other projects first.

This year, I've planted four Cherokee purple tomatoes, six banana peppers, two summer squash plants, and four cucumbers. Along the front border, there are also basil, oregano, thyme, sage, rosemary, and lavender plants. Unfortunately, the spacing feels a little awkward, and next year, I will organize the plants differently in the bed.

I should probably mention that I don't feel like I am very good at vegetable gardening. I can grow flowers all day long, but vegetables have always been something else, and no matter how many garden books I've read and no matter how many times I stand before the bed and talk lovingly to the plants,  I still don't feel like I get near the vegetables that "other" gardeners get from their plants and so have always felt a little self-conscious about my vegetable garden.

Until this year, I've always used cages for the tomato and cucumbers, but I discovered "tomato twirls" from The Home Depot and decided to give them a go. The twirls have been a fun way to stake the vines, but they are a little scary too. They require a closely trimmed tomato vine to work, and I have spent most of the early summer, sure I was cutting too much. But I love the look the twirls give the bed.

This spring has been a challenge for many of the plants, the bed is newly established, and the soil was out of the bag and had to be amended as we went. Plus, it has been a cold and very wet spring, and everything was so slow to take off. Because of the rain, I've also been struggling with fungal problems in this bed - and in the shade bed - and so far, all of the tomatoes have cracked. We also had to contend with a voracious plague of squash bugs, and I am shocked that my plants survived the attack. Not all the plants have suffered this, though, both the basil and the cucumbers have really loved the weather, and I have been blessed with much more that I can use.

Now that it has started to dry out (and I began hand-pollinating the tomatoes), everything has begun filling in, and it looks pretty good. I'm hoping that, despite the shaky start, I shall soon be getting vegetables (besides cucumbers) from the garden rather than the market, and next year, I think I can alter the layout a bit to make it more efficient. 

I am definitely going to stick with the tomato twirls going forward. I love the way they make the garden look.

xoxo a.d. elliott 


a.d. elliott is a wanderer, writer, and photographer currently living in Salem, Virginia. 

In addition to the travel writings at, you can also read her book reviews at and US military biographies at

Her online photography gallery can be found at