Arizona gardening may have its challenges... Watering, healthy soil, keeping away the critters, getting good seeds, planting at the right time etc...
But if you can get them right you can have a really stunning garden!
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8 Musts For Your Arizona Gardening
Without water you will get no garden results. It is just too dry here.
In the desert... You will need a plan on how you are going to water your garden. It is probably the most important thing you will need to consider.
Yes... You can water your garden with a standard garden hose... And you can have good results with that. But that is not what I would recommend.
First lets talk about how you water. It’s really important that you water deep and less often... Compared to frequent shallow watering. It is so much better for the plants.
To do that you need to water slowly. In other words let the water soak in.
You can accomplish this in several ways:
- soaker hose
- drip line
- drip tape
- a standard hose on a light trickle
Read more on garden watering systems. There is where I give the details of a few different options and my pick of the lot. ;)
Let me say it again... Deep and infrequent!
It is so vital in the desert. It will make a big difference in your results.
2: Healthy Desert Soil
Just for starters... I am still learning a lot when it comes to the best garden soil. I am trying different things and learning as I go. ;)
There are many ways you can find online on how to achieve healthy soil. But the important thing is which you are going to decide to undertake.
I have been using a method that I heard of recently called deep mulch gardening. I heard of it from Jill over at the Prairie Homestead. It seemed to work really well for her so I tried it. :)
I had amazing results with it!
Then I heard of a book called Teaming with Microbes. It sounded really good! So I bought it. (It sounded so great I didn’t even bother borrowing it from the library first!)
It was totally worth it!
After reading it, I think it is the best book I have ever read on gardening! Yes that good. :)
It gives a ton of information about the living organisms in the earth. I always knew that there where living things you couldn’t see in soil...
But soil really seems alive after reading that!
The book explains how the things in the soil work... Then it gives some practical instructions on how you can work with the living organisms... Instead of against them like everyone seems to be doing now (Even the organic gardens).
So right now I am applying the deep mulch method and all is going well with that.
Placement--Sun or shade
As a general rule, you want your garden in full sun. Even in Arizona gardening.
Some of the plants you grow may require shade. In that case you will need to find a way to provide it. Maybe shade cloth set up so you get the shadow on your plants when you need it...
Something, but remember most of the garden will need full sun. :)
Timing Is Everything--When To Plant
I have a feeling this is critical everywhere... But I know it is here. When and how soon you get those seeds planted can make a big difference.
The #1 rule (ok that might be debatable ;) ) for timing in Arizona... DON’T follow the rest of the country’s schedule! If you do that you might have trouble getting anything growing.
Get a good gardening book specifically to the desert. It will be very helpful. (More on that below.)
If you would rather not spend the money right now, here are a few options:
I like to have a few printed out. One of the lists might miss something and it is helpful to find it on another.
Plant at the right time and save yourself some trouble! ;)
5: Desert Critters
Oh no... I really don’t like these little guys that come around selfishly eating everything! :)
I read that chicken wire put up around the garden fence will stop rabbits. So we did that.
When you are looking for chicken wire, look for the kind they use to stucco houses. We found it was much cheaper then the fancy-packaged stuff from Home Depot. They don’t call it chicken wire, but is the same thing and WAY cheaper!
I think that it really works for the rabbits... But we also have ground squirrels. It doesn't stop them!
We have another method that we are going to try. We heard of it from some friends.
Burry some 5-gal. buckets, fill with water, and throw in a piece of rotting fruit. The rotting fruit attracts them and they fall in getting stuck in the water.
The least favorite of them all (not that I am fond of any of them but...), Grasshoppers! :(
They are so hard to stop! We have had so many you walk out to the garden and take a step and they hop everywhere! We have had a few times when we had a plague of them. That is no fun.
I have tried covering seedlings with sheets to get them to sprout. It worked a few times.
Then I read about how guineas can help with them and not be as destructive to the garden as chickens. So we are going to try that. :)
6: Seeds--Days To Harvest
Getting seeds with a lower number of days to harvest is recommended in the low desert.
That being said, I have had some with slightly higher days do well here. Just keep days to harvest in mind when you are purchasing you seeds.
In general the shorter the days the better.
7: What To Start With
Try squash and lettuce! They grow really well here and give you a lot of produce.
Tomatoes can be a little tricky, but give them a try too. For tomatoes the biggest thing is you must MULCH THEM! It will make a big difference. They need even water and the mulch does that like nothing else.
Watermelon needs a lot of water. So be prepared! But I have had great success with a particular kind..
Ancient Watermelon seeds from Baker Creek grow really well here. I tried a few kinds from Baker Creek, but the Ancients did the best. They tasted spectacular! :)
8: Must-Get Books
Last but not least... Now for the gardening books I would recommend for Arizona.
The first would be Extreme Gardening. Really great basics for the beginning gardener as well as advanced. I use it all the time.
Another that I really like is Desert Gardening. More really amazing information!
There are others, but those are my favorites I have found.
Amazing Arizona Gardening!
As you can see Arizona gardening is doable!
With a little bit of knowledge and a bit of experience, (with time ;) ) you are on your way to an amazing garden! And once you know how to work with the seasons...
We really have one of the best gardening climates!
You can have something growing all year here. Not too many places in the country offer that.
Happy Arizona gardening! :)