• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

First time food garden in northern az

 
Joslyn Bloodworth
Posts: 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This spring, my husband and I diving into our first attempt at growing our own food and I was wondering if anyone could give me advice on what we can grow. We live on a mesa just outside Prescott, Az but our land is in a dip and we stay a bit cooler than the surrounding area but it's still Arizona so it gets hot in the summer. The place we are going to put the garden had a garden on it in previous years so the soil is good and there was a preexisting compost pile that we have been adding to and maintaining. We like carrots, rutabagas, potatoes, onions, celery, parsnips, and tomatoes. What of these will grow in a desert environment and are there other foods that we could grow that we might like given our tastes?
 
John Elliott
pollinator
Posts: 2355
78
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
carrots, rutabagas, potatoes, onions, celery, parsnips, and tomatoes

Potatoes are a cool weather crop and you can start them in February or so. You'll be harvesting them before the weather turns really hot, around May or so.

Carrots have a struggle here in my heavy Georgia clay. I'm not going to give up on them though, I've got some new hugelbeds that I am going to try them in. They are a cool weather crop, so you want to have them in the ground as soon as spring hints at arriving.

Onions are something you can start now, either from sets or you can try the perennial Egyptian Walking Onions. Once you get Egyptian Walking Onions established, you will never by green onions at the store again they are so prolific. If you want a sample, send me a PM with your address and I can send you some starts.

Rutabagas are a cool weather crop and do better when planted in late summer. If you get a mild winter, they can even overwinter along with the rest of your cabbage vegetables.

Tomatoes should be fine if you put in some transplants out in April or so. The only caution on tomatoes is that daytime temperatures over 104F will cause them to suspend flowering, so while fruit that is already on the vine will still ripen in the intense AZ summer, you won't get any more fruit being set until the weather cools down.

I've never had much luck with stalk celery, what works better for me is celeriac. It's usually grown for its root, but while the root is growing, you can cut stalks as needed and use them in place of celery. If you try it, put it in the wettest part of your garden.

I don't have anything to say on parsnips, my numerous attempts to plant them have failed, but what has worked for me are parsley root (Hamburg variety) and salsify (oyster plant).
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
88
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Joslyn Bloodworth wrote: We like carrots, rutabagas, potatoes, onions, celery, parsnips, and tom atoes. What of these will grow in a desert environment and are there other foods that we could grow that we might like given our tastes?

Welcome to permies Joslyn

I think of every one of those plants except tomatoes and maybe the right variety of onions as being pretty much the opposite of veges that do well in a hot, arid climate.
If you're dedicated, they might do ok, but I imagine you'd need to water a lot.
There are desert-dwellers here who'll have more idea than me though.
Do you by any chance like eggplant, chillies, basil, melons, squash, okra, Mediterranean herbs...?
I grow 'picking celery' (actually, it grows itself!) which handles drier climates, but it's a bit tough to eat raw.
Considering standard celery's ancestor basically grew in bogs, I think it might be a hard one in the desert!
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
Posts: 2679
Location: Phoenix, AZ (9b)
174
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Joslyn and welcome to Permies!

I'm in Phoenix and our planting times are significantly different than yours. HOWEVER, Yavapai County Extension has put out this wonderful veggie planting guide to help you out. Just check out the column for your altitude and then check planting dates.

You'll see right at the top that crops are basically divided into 2 large categories - Warm season and Cool season - that will give you an idea of what types of things you'll have available in which season.

Warm Season Crops
: bean, cantaloupe, cucumber, corn, eggplant, herbs, okra, pepper,
pumpkin, squash, tomato, watermelon
Cool Season Crops
: beet, carrot, chard, collard, leaf lettuce, onion, pea, radish, spinach, turnip

Have fun with your garden! Prescott is such a lovely area - you should have great success there. Keep us posted with some pics!
 
Adam Klaus
author
gardener
Posts: 946
Location: 6200' westen slope of colorado, zone 6
65
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
John Elliott wrote:
Carrots have a struggle here in my heavy Georgia clay. I'm not going to give up on them though, I've got some new hugelbeds that I am going to try them in.


Bit of a thread drift, but have you tried the varietal 'Shin Kuroda'? I get seeds from Fedco. It is a Japanese varienty that grows short and fat, giant carrots. They seem to really power through my heavy clay and yield really well. For me, more key than the heavy clay was my boron levels, which were low. Once ammended, I am having good results with the Shin Kuroda carrots.

Hope that helps!
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
Posts: 2679
Location: Phoenix, AZ (9b)
174
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Adam - we have similar soils here in Phoenix (heavy clay, low boron) and I've found the short stubby carrots to work well here too. Got the seeds from a friend so I couldn't tell you if they were the 'Shin Kuroda' variety - but they are tasty and BRIGHT orange.
 
Joslyn Bloodworth
Posts: 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Wow! What great responses, thanks!

John- Good advice! I do enjoy green onions as well as red and yellows so I may try some of those. We don't always get mild winters but I'm looking into setting up a small green house that I can extend the cool season we do get. My mom has always had good luck with tomatoes up here and I think I'll get some good ones for what I like, which is mainly sauces and pastes more than chopped.

Leila - Thanks! Fortunately Northern Az isn't as bad for hot. The area I'm in stays about 10 degrees cooler than Phoenix and the little dip our house is in stays 5 degrees cooler than that so I'm hoping for good success. One of the ways I'm going to get our water up is using all the grey water I can capture from the sink and laundry. In the warmer months I wash my clothes by hand and I wash dishes and laundry with homemade biodegradable soaps (I'm still double checking that it won't adversely affect a garden) so I think I can use a lot of grey water to cut down on the amount it needs, also we're on a well so other than the electricity to get it out of the ground our water is free of charge. When we get more money water catchments are on our shopping list too. We do like chilies, melons and all kinds of herbs, so I can add those things to the list. That picking celery sounds great! I really only use it in soups and stews anyway so that'd be exactly what I need.

Jennifer - Thank you, that link is perfect. I forgot about beans, radishes, and some of the others you listed, so thanks for the reminder.

By the way, does anyone have a good link or book about crop rotation on a small area and what I might need to consider to help replenish my soil?
 
John Elliott
pollinator
Posts: 2355
78
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Adam Klaus wrote:
Bit of a thread drift, but have you tried the varietal 'Shin Kuroda'? I get seeds from Fedco. It is a Japanese varienty that grows short and fat, giant carrots. They seem to really power through my heavy clay and yield really well. For me, more key than the heavy clay was my boron levels, which were low. Once ammended, I am having good results with the Shin Kuroda carrots.

Hope that helps!


All the carrots I grow are the short, fat variety -- even if it says on the seed packet that they are long and skinny.

Joslyn, if you are going to be trucking in leaves or wood chips or other kinds of organic matter to turn under, crop rotation is going to be less of a problem. Crop rotation is a concept to use on a large area, one that you couldn't possible haul enough mulch to -- like 100 acre farm fields. If you have a garden plot with a few hundred square feet, the rotation comes from all the new biomass that you bring in and turn under.

In my garden I break one of the big rules about growing brassicas: "wait 3 years before planting another member of the cabbage family or you will get cabbage root rot". Root rot, dog snot, I say. Every fall I plant a variety of brassicas, some right where I did last year, and I have yet to see a problem. Of course my garden has LOTS of diversity, so root rot nasties don't get the chance to hide out and wait for their favorite meal to come along, something else eats them first.

If you plant enough variety in your garden, then the "rotation" is happening all the time.
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
Posts: 2679
Location: Phoenix, AZ (9b)
174
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
John Elliot wrote:
In my garden I break one of the big rules about growing brassicas: "wait 3 years before planting another member of the cabbage family or you will get cabbage root rot". Root rot, dog snot, I say. Every fall I plant a variety of brassicas, some right where I did last year, and I have yet to see a problem. Of course my garden has LOTS of diversity, so root rot nasties don't get the chance to hide out and wait for their favorite meal to come along, something else eats them first.


Now I, too, must say "root rot, dog snot!"

Dale - add this to your sig! Priceless!

@John - I do the same thing - plant brassicas fall after fall in the same place - since 2008 - no problem. Chickens tractor up all the beds in the summer for me. And there's a ton of diversity too.
Backyard with solar cooker.JPG
[Thumbnail for Backyard with solar cooker.JPG]
Early Feb in the backyard
 
Joslyn Bloodworth
Posts: 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
So adding fresh dirt out of my compost pile as well as things like the poo from my neighbors horses and compost tea along with regular tilling between crops should do me?



 
John Elliott
pollinator
Posts: 2355
78
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Joslyn Bloodworth wrote:So adding fresh dirt out of my compost pile as well as things like the poo from my neighbors horses and compost tea along with regular tilling between crops should do me?



That should work quite well. Horse manure is an excellent amendment for desert soils, since not being ruminants, their poo still has fibrous vegetation that isn't as broken down. More to break down means more to feed to soil food web.
 
2017 Permaculture Design Course at Wheaton Labs
http://richsoil.com/pdc
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!