New garden/gardener

texazthompsonFebruary 18, 2014

Well, a fourth grade science project has followed my son home and we have all of the supplies on hand for a 4'x8'x12" raised bed garden for foodstuffs.

The frame is built, weed cloth on the bottom metal grating to keep all the critters from the desert out and some pvc attached to the frame for a canopy if needed.

It is near a west well to keep out of the afternoon sun and because of the placement of the house and wall should have unobstructed sun in the winter and shade in the summer.

Plans on a single valve irrigation and drip irrigation throughout.

I have a truckload of Pioneer's Sandy Loam ready to go in tomorrow.

Now for some questions:

Anything need to be mixed in with the soil now or wait and adjust as needed?

What are some good sources for what grows and when?

Where are some good places to buy/order seeds?

What have I gotten myself into and when does the support group meet :)?


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Great. It will be fun gardening. The only thing is the sandy loam never worked for me but some others like it. The thing is that their "sandy loam" has too much clay on it and compacts. I've amended it but the best thing that worked for me was getting rid of it and getting good soil.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 10:41PM
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I attached a collection of advice on monthly planting from Cathy Cromell that I keep. There are links to monthly planting calenders at the end.

You might check these out as well: - You can use your native will just contain weed and grass seeds.

The good news, if you are using you native soil it is superb. High pH but not so high as to keep the garden from producing. Low in carbon and there lies the rub. You should completely mix in a finished compost into the soil. Plants only need about 2% free carbon to do very well. Unfortunately our soils are often around 0.5%. 5% is considered ideal, but considerably more is fine. Generally our soils are low in nitrogen too but adding the finished compost can correct that too.

Pioneers Sandy Loam should have adequate carbon and nitrogen and few contaminating seeds.

Row or Square Foot?

Mulch lightly and build up (add) as plants grow taller with straw.

Drip irrigation: Recommend using in line emitters with built in pressure compensation as they don't clog. This is just an example, not an endorsement of this vendor:

Local seed:
Seed Trust, VPA, Native Seed Search

Growing season is year round here. As you surmised some things at different times. Some annuals will even survive the winter and summer and keep on producing for 2, 3 or more years. As a very general rule pick seeds with a 75 day or less plant to harvest as out warm season turns to hot and back to warm in fairly short order.

The link below and the instructions on the seed packet with regard to planting depth are likely all you need. Mel Bartolomew's paperback on "Square Foot Gardening" (can be found at $12 in Walmart's Garden Center section) has some pretty great general gardening for beginners advice in between his touting SFG to death. This too:
You should start a compost pile or two for replenishing nutrients removed when you harvest/remove annuals for replacement. Otherwise gardening becomes very expensive over time with fertilizers and amendments that are unnecessary unless you are in the business of selling such things.

Hopefully you don't live too near the edge of town or rabbits and javalina will be a problem.

Here is a link that might be useful: Vegetable Monthly Planting Maricopa Co.

This post was edited by Fascist_Nation on Thu, Feb 20, 14 at 21:09

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 9:01PM
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I just have a little advice, as I'm a fairly new gardener also (starting my third year). Plant things you will eat - my best luck with seeds have been zucchini, spaghetti squash, and herbs - cilantro, parsley, oregano, thyme, basil, and my fave sage.
Also have had wonderful snow peas (started in late summer). I planted 12 seeds in a large Rubbermaid tub, then after my silly dog ate them all, did it again, circled the tub with chicken wire and stuck a piece of horse fence up the center for climbing. I am still picking handfuls every week for salads and stir frys. Love 'em!
Tried several times to grow green chiles, serranos and jalapeños from seed (and trying again), but gave in and bought chile plants at Home Depot which did quite well.
I love seeds from Botanical Interests. They have many organic and heirloom varieties and fast shipping. If you are a lover of alfalfa and other sprouts, they sell those also. Easy to grow year round and always great on sandwiches. has a vegetable planting schedule that I like. If you're not in tucson, you can probably find something similar in your area.
I don't take all seed packet info too seriously - especially the amount of days until harvest. I've found it's weeks longer here in the hot desert, even with plenty of watering...
Much luck to you

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 1:32AM
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