a single square foot

From the day I returned to the desert in 2019, my friend Dwight has encouraged me to grow vegetables in my small, residential backyard.  Mrs. tVM and I set up a 3’x8’ plot last summer and planted tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant.  The plants grew and blossomed but never produced fruit.  We were confused until Dwight’s daughter Kaitlyn explained to us that blossoming plants like tomatoes cease to produce when the outside air temperature exceeds 85o.  Live and learn.

I enjoy a green salad with every evening meal.  We waited until early winter and planted frost-tolerant kale late in 2020.  By the end


of January 2021, our small 24 sq.ft. plot easily produced enough kale for a hearty salad each evening.  I’ve learned that kale will continue producing for many months if it is properly cared for.  We do our best and have enjoyed kale aplenty for two months with no end in sight.

Early in 2021, we added leaf lettuce, spinach, and Mexican grey squash to the mix and expect to be harvesting it in a few weeks.

The benefits of planting a small garden plot are many and where you live makes no difference.

  • The physical act of creating the garden, cultivating it, maintaining it, and harvesting it is good exercise particularly if you are outdoors breathing fresh air, made all the fresher as your green plants extract carbon dioxide from the overloaded atmosphere.
  • Mentally, gardening teaches patience and relieves stress. As seeds sprout, plants grow and vegetables are harvested and consumed, the gardener senses pride and satisfaction in a job well done working with the natural forces around him.
  • Spiritually, the activity inspires awe and wonder as the gardener contemplates how such a small seed can produce such a bounty.

If you have yet to experience the joy and satisfaction of creating a garden – small or large – this is a perfect time as spring invites us to make the world a better place to be.  Just a few minutes of research will get you started.

Mitakuye Oyasin

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  1. I only plant tomatoes. I plant them as early as possible and try to protect them in case of a freeze. That way they will produce up to late June when it gets too hot. After that, shade them so they can make it through the summer and start producing in September until the first frost. You can’t beat a home grown tomato. By summer, all other vegetables are very affordable at the grocery. Nothing makes friends like giving away a home grown tomato.

    1. You definitely got that right, Joe! Actually, my friend Dwight, Mrs. tVM, and I are planting 60 tomato plants and 60 bell pepper plants in our “Haiti plot” tomorrow morning. They will be the first plants in the ground as we attempt to prove our 3,000 sq.ft. desert garden concept. We’re pushing the envelope waiting this late in the desert, but I believe we will be okay. We also planted 1,000 seeds of tomato, corn, squash, beets, beans, eggplant, and peas between the first weekend in February and last weekend. We planted in trays in Dwight’s hoop house. Much of it is sprouting and we hope to transplant the seedlings starting next weekend. It is a grand experiment that I will write more about in the coming weeks.