Greens From Your Own Garden
There’s nothing like eating a veggie fresh from your own garden. We are fortunate to have two major growing seasons in the desert Southwest, Spring and Fall. Below are tips for planting and care that will produce fresh, virtually year-round vegetables for your enjoyment.
When planting a vegetable garden, choose a spot that gets full sun, all day (8 hours+). Then, add to the soil a 3- to 4-inch layer of mulch and one pound of sulfur-based soil acidifier per 100 square feet to loosen the soil, assist drainage and acidify. Also add 3 to 5 pounds per 100 square feet each of blood meal and bone meal. Our native soils naturally lack the organic matter, acidity and nutrients that produce truly tasty vegetables, which is why we recommend soil supplements. These additions will maximize production, efficiency and taste. Once added, spade to a depth of 8 to 12 inches. Next, create furrows 24 inches apart so the bed width leaves enough room for the plant to grow.
Most vegetable starts are sold in 3.5- or 4-inch pots or 6-packs. Dig holes big enough for the plant’s root ball. Carefully remove the plant from the container and gently loosen the roots. Then, place the plant in a hole and firmly pack soil around the root ball. Spacing between the holes will depend on what you are growing.
Water thoroughly after planting. If you plant your vegetables from seed, cover the seeds with a light application of top dressing mulch, which is very fine textured mulch. Water the seeds and keep moist throughout germination.
A drip tape watering system is a great watering method and makes vegetable gardening easy. The tape is laid on top of the bed next to the plants so that you have thorough watering and leaching of soluble salts. The next easiest and most efficient method is furrow irrigation. Remember, deep watering is the key. So, water thoroughly but less frequently. Avoid sprinkling with a garden hose. Water two to three times per week until the plant is established. Then, drop back to one to two times per week watering depending on temperatures–more frequently in the summer and less in fall. Drip tape runs on 8 to 10 pounds pressure, so the water needs to run 4 to 6 hours to get full penetration. If you furrow irrigate, make sure you completely fill the furrow with water and leave running until the bed is soaked.
Fertilize with a balanced slow-re- lease fertilizer like 15-15-15 or one of the organic fertilizers on the market. Feed according to label instructions.
For most insects, we recommend organic Neem Oil based pesticides. Neem is considered an organic pesticide made from the oil of the fruits and seeds of the Neem tree. Neem oils also works on a broad spectrum of garden pests. Consult a landscape or gardening professional about your specific needs.
To the right is a list of vegetables for fall and spring gardening. As you may know, not all varieties of a plant will thrive here in the desert. Local nurseries will offer proven varieties and are more likely to be Arizona grown. SMDN
Kari Petterson is the sales & marketing coordinator for Terra Verde Landscape Solutions. She can be reached at 480-497-8200 or firstname.lastname@example.org