Kick Start Your Garden This Spring
Arizona provides a great climate for gardening and getting started is easier than you might think. Whether you want a small salsa garden or a garden big enough to feed the family the same basic principals apply when you get started. To make your experience a memorable one we’ve put together a few helpful pointers to consider when getting started this year.
First You Need To Pick The Right Location:
Vegetables need sunlight and quality well-drained soil to avoid disease which could kill your entire crop.
Consider these factors before breaking ground:
- Sunlight – Look for a shade-free or lightly shaded site. Vegetables need a minimum of six hours of sunshine a day. In Arizona we know that’s no problem but is there such a thing as too much sunlight? Yes some plants such as tomatoes and other vine vegetables can be affected by too much sun. A few signs of this are yellow spots may appear on their leaves and fruit; these areas can become thin and take on a white color as the plant tissue is being damaged. In extreme temperatures you may also see these plants drop flower buds and young fruit to increase their water retention.
- Soil – How is the natural vegetation such as your grass? If your grass is healthy the soil will probably be good for vegetables, too. If you’re starting from scratch first check the pH of the soil to determine what type of gardening soil and fertilizer is needed. Many young gardeners make the mistake of simply picking up a bag of soil and planting right away. Though you will likely be alright with this approach you could also do more harm than good, plants need a proper balance to ensure healthy growth and produce quality vegetables.
- Surroundings – Be careful when planting a garden around large trees and shrubs, the roots can suck nutrients away from your vegetables.
- Proximity – When planning the location of your garden be sure to factor in where your water source is. No one wants to drag the hose across the yard twice a day. If you have the time and resources we suggest running a water line to your garden which makes watering a breeze.
Choose What To Plant
Every climate offers different benefits for plants so it’s important to know what grows best in the Arizona heat and when you should plant. The University of Arizona provides a great Vegetable Planting Calendar for reference on what to plant and when to harvest. Here are three factors to keep in mind when you’re getting ready to plant:
- Season – Plant your seeds at the right time to avoid damage from temperature extremes and adequate sunlight.
- Depth – When planting it’s important to plant the seeds at the right depth. Planting your seeds to shallow can cause them to wash away or dry out, on the other side of that if you plant them too deep they may not sprout at all.
- Adequate Spacing – Each plant needs adequate sunlight, nutrients and water. By planting seeds too close together your harvest may be smaller than expected.
For some plants sticking to a set schedule is fine, however when dealing with vegetable it’s important to monitor moisture content in the soil and take a moment to review the guidelines for each plant.
- Frequent shallow watering – By watering less more often you promote root development in surface layers of the soil, making plants very susceptible to stress, damage, and weather extremes.
- Do Not Over-water – Plants and humans are very similar in this aspect, we can both drown. By over-watering your garden you leave little to no oxygen in the soil for the roots to breathe. In addition over-watering may cause fungus to begin to growing due to lack of oxygen and ventilation in the soil.
- Postponing watering – As we previously mentioned sticking to a watering schedule may work for some plants but with vegetables if they look like they need watering, water them.
Have any other ideas on how to maintain a successful garden? Share with us below.