Creating a successful veggie garden in Phoenix is an enjoyable and nutritous way to get fresh food. The ultimate success of your garden is determined by four major factors:
Easy to Grow Veggies in Phoenix Arizona
Easy to grow crops include sugar snap peas, green beans, radishes, tomatoes, herbs, peppers, onions, and carrots. Most seeds can be planted between the months of November and March. See the planting guide for reference. Just remember that frosts can happen even in late January and your veggies will have to be covered if you plant them outdoors before the last frost. Small gardens don't leave much room for watermelons, cucumbers, or squash, but you can get a couple of each plants in.
Many veggies here in Phoenix have double growing seasons, so you can grow some type of food all year long. Citrus trees provide a wonderful perfume in the spring air and delicious fruit in the winter. Even the cactus can provide fruit.
I highly recommend using the raised garden system in Phoenix. You have more control over your soil and growing conditions for the plants. This is what has worked for us.
Green Beans are an easy crop to grown in Phoenix gardens. I usually plant the seeds in November and cover plants if there is a frost warning. You can also start seeds indoors and wait to plant outside until after threats of frost have passed. This year we put tomatoe cages around them to keep them off the ground and give us more space in the veggie garden.
The Sugar Snap peas were planted around the same time and have flowers by January. In Feburary we had our first Snap Pea of the season. The hummingbirds visit the flowers every day and like resting on the tomatoe cages.
Parsley went gangbusters in our garden. We planted seeds in the spring and we've had fresh parsley every day for over a year now. I've actually had to pull a bunch out because it was taking over.
Which variety of seed should I choose?
The best advice in choosing seeds is to choose varieties that have quick gestation times. Veggies that will produce within 60 days are the easiest to grow.
We've had the best success in Phoenix with tomatoes, green beans, snap peas, radishes, parsley, basil, watermelon, red onion, squash, zucchini,
Finding the Right Spot for a Vegetable Garden
If you're starting your first garden, starting out small will be less overwhelming. The most important step in creating your garden is finding the perfect spot. Vegetables need at least 6 hours of sun, but they also require shade from the harsh Phoenix afternoon sun.
Find a spot that preferably recieves morning sun and afternoon shade. For our vegetable garden we picked a spot in the North West Corner of our yard that recieves a good balance of sun and shade and took advantage of the existing block wall as a partial barrier. We then planted trees that provide filtered shade in the summer to protect our vegetables.
Determine the Size
Next you'll have to decide the size you garden you desire. This will depend largely on the space you have available and the time and effort that you would like to spend maintaining your new garden. We've had many vegetable gardens over the years, and the vegetable garden at our last house was much larger than our current vegetable garden.
In our current house, I started out smaller with a raised garden bed of 4.5 feet wide and 10 feet long and raised 18 inches high. At this width, you can still easily lean over and tend to the plants without entering the garden area. Over the years I have added four more raised beds. Three of the beds are 4 x 2 x 4 feet and the smaller herb garden box is 2 x 2 x 2'.
Your Garden Plot
After this you'll have to decide is what kind of garden you would like. With my first vegetable garden we had to remove the sod, which wasn't too fun but if you rent a sod cutter it isn't too bad. After the sod was taken out we then rented a rototiller(you can do this at most any home improvement center or hardware store) and tilled up our new garden area. We then added compost and organic material and tilled once again. Our garden area was then ready for planting.
It was a little bit easier with our current garden. We started with a 10 by 4.5 foot area of bare dirt. We then purchased aprox 30 blocks to raise the area of the garden. We brought in around 60 bags of a mixture of manure, compost, and gardening soil. Then we layered the different materials into the garden bed.
Preparing the Soil
Your soil is very important this is where your seeds will get the nutrients they need to provide tasty fruit or veggies. Our Phoenix Arizona native soil is not really sufficient and should be mixed with compost, and/or gardening soil, at a minimum use only 20-50% native soil, less is better when it comes to the vegetable garden. We chose to create a raised garden bed in order to have better control over the soil conditions and our existing garden bed has very little native soil. The raised garden bed has a depth of 18" - a mixture of organic material and gardening soil.
Before you start you'll want some Basic Gardening tools including a standard shovel and spade. A spading fork resembles a small pitchfork. It is used to dig down into hard soil and break up the ground. A hoe is a useful gardening tool, but if you only have a small vegetable garden it is not necessary. A wheelbarrow and a good garden rake is not necessary, but they are helpful.
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