Not only are green beans a good source of fiber, vitamins A, C, and K but they are also fairly easy to grow. Green beans have two different types, pole beans which need a trellis type structure to climb up and bush beans which can stand alone without a trellis. Bush beans, sometimes referred to as “snap beans”, take about a week less time to grow compared to pole beans. Plant your beans from mid-March through April or until soil temperatures consistently reach 70 degrees Fahrenheit. To maximize your green bean harvest, you should try to match the ideal growing conditions for your plant. These beans need 6-8 hours of sunlight a day, preferably from the morning hours and shaded in the afternoon, so the location of your garden is crucial. The soil needs to be prepped before planting, Arizona soil is compacted and mostly alkaline meaning it has a high ph. You must add a generous amount of organic matter and phosphorus fertilizer. Once this is achieved, plant your bush bean seed two to four inches apart with at least 18-24 inches apart between rows. Do not germinate your seeds before planting, instead plant your seeds then water them. Be cautious of over watering after planting because too much moisture in the soil may make the bean seeds crack before they are ready. During the growing process make sure the soil never becomes too dry especially during the hot days of the spring and summer. You should water daily but before every watering, put a finger/hand in the soil to feel how moist it is and water accordingly. Check multiple spots in your garden bed to make sure your plants are watered evenly. Harvest the beans when the pods turn firm and fully elongated but before the seed within is fully matured. This should be about two months after planting but check and see after six weeks. For a continuous harvest, plant new bush bean seeds once every two weeks up until mid-September.
Carrots are a significant source of fiber, beta carotene, vitamin K1, potassium, and antioxidants. Although carrots come in many different colors and varieties, Danvers carrots are the more beginner friendly of the varieties. The soil requirements are not that much different than green beans, except that they require a cooler soil temperature of around 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit. So, the carrots can be planted in the Phoenix, Arizona region anywhere from august through April and require 70 days to grow to maturity. Your carrots need about 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day but too much sunlight may increase the growth of foliage and inhibit the growth of the roots. If possible, make sure your garden is located in a position where it is shaded or partially shaded during the afternoon to limit evaporation from excessive heat. Make sure the soil is perpetually moist to increase the yield of the carrots at harvest. To plant, create a mound about 8 inches wide in a row, plant the danvers carrot seeds along the mound and cover with a quarter inch thick layer of loose soil. Keep the soil moist but make sure the layer of soil above the seeds does not harden or else it may not sprout after germination. After the seeds are about two inches high, thin out the carrots to about two to four inches apart. Carrots that are too close together will compete for resources and will result in smaller carrots. Due to Phoenix’s arid climate, fungus should not be a problem on moist soil but always take a minute to check because fungus could steal nutrients away from your
carrots. Always check the soil before watering, soil should be moist all the way down to your fingertips (6 inches). Once the tops of the carrots start to show, cover them with mulch to keep them from drying out. For continuous cultivation, plant more carrot seeds every three weeks. It may be recommended to add a small perimeter fence around your garden to deter animals and pests from entering your garden.
Pumpkins are a staple of our fall festivities, but they are also a hearty source of fiber, potassium and vitamins A and C. There are many different pumpkin varieties, but the white Lumina arguably tastes the best while still maintaining their signature festive feel. They grow best from seed and need a large area of land and plenty of water to grow to their potential. The white Lumina and pumpkins in general do not tolerate cold soil temperatures very well. You must wait until temperatures reach 70 degrees Fahrenheit consistently and do not fall below 55 degrees at night. It takes 90-120 days for a pumpkin to grow from seed to harvest so if you want them to be ready for Halloween, plant in July. You can also start planting pumpkins as early as mid-February. If you want to guarantee you have a seed that will have a successful harvest, all other factors aside, use pumpkin seeds bought from a reputable source and not seeds from a pumpkin you bought from a store. Even if you get the seeds found in a store-bought pumpkin to germinate, there is no guarantee that pumpkin will be the same species as the parent. You should plant your pumpkins in an area with sunlight for a majority of the day with shade in the afternoon. To plant, create a mound of soil and plant four to five seeds about an inch deep. Give plenty of space between mounds so pumpkins have enough room to grow. After a few leaves start to grow on the seedlings, thin out each mound so only the one or two healthiest plants remain. Water the soil around the stem and avoid getting water on the foliage. The soil should be well watered but not fully saturated so always check it daily. After the pumpkins start to develop, create a level soil surface to avoid disfigurement and place them on a hard, nonporous surface so the pumpkin doesn’t rot from the damp soil.
Rosemary is a great addition to any garden with many benefits on and off the dinner table. This herb originated in the Mediterranean area, so it had developed tolerance to heat and cold, allowing for an easy transition to our Arizona climate. Rosemary is great for cooking but also acts as pest control with its strong aroma distracting potential pest from your other crops. Unlike the other plants listed, growing Rosemary from seed is very difficult and propagating from cuttings is the preferred method. Take a four to six-inch-long plant cutting, plant it in vermiculite, and then plant it in your garden once roots start to show. You can also buy a small Rosemary plant at a store and simply transplant it into your garden. Even though Rosemary is heat tolerant, the best time to plant is during the cooler months of October and February. Plant your Rosemary in a dry spot of your garden, it is susceptible to root rot so make sure the soil is not constantly moist. It does not require a daily water but check soil moisture daily. Direct sunlight for most of the day should not be a problem but partial shade during the afternoons would be best. Never Harvest more than one third of the plant at once or else it might not recover.
Another herb you should consider adding to your garden is Sage. Not only is this herb a common ingredient in your favorite recipes but its also very ease to grow in your garden. Along with being easy to grow, it attracts pollinators while its flowering and its distinct aroma distracts pest from your more valuable crops. Although, growing from seed is difficult because of uneven germination so, the recommend method is to buy a small Sage plant from a store or propagate through cuttings. Plant during the cool periods of the year, between February-April and October-November. The soil should be around 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit for best growth results. Choose a sunny spot in your garden, preferably with afternoon sun, and plant about two to three feet from any other plant to allow your plant space to grow. Sage is heat tolerant but is susceptible to root rot during the summer months if its soil is constantly moist. Water occasionally, but always check soil moisture daily. Sage is a perennial plant which means you have the potential to harvest year-round.
Gardening in Arizona can be strenuous but it’s worth it to see all your hard work come to fruition from having home grown food, smelling the aroma of the herbs in your garden, or seeing a green garden come to life where only desolate soil once laid. Just remember to check your soil daily and water accordingly!
Over eons of agriculture, gardeners have learned that different species of plants benefit each other when planted close together. Despite centuries of anecdotal evidence, many skeptics in the gardening community still dispute the value of companion planting and use the lack of laboratory testing to back up their claims.
The world would be a lifeless husk if we didn't have insects, birds, and other animals to help maintain the ecological balance. Still, that doesn't mean we should let insects have their run of the garden or provide a buffet for the local rabbit population and birdlife. As gardeners, we will always have pests eyeing our hard work as a potential meal, but the goal should be control rather than eradication.
With the COVID-19 pandemic maintaining its grip on the planet, more people are staying at home. An interesting side-effect of a house-bound populace is a sudden surge in interest for gardening. Maintaining a garden at home is one thing. However, gardening is not always a solitary activity - neighbors often share gardening space while others head off to the community garden with friends.