Vegetable gardening in AZ in summer???

tiredmamaof5August 21, 2010

I have some experience in gardening and I'm new to AZ. I started square foot gardening with raised garden beds last Feb. I'm still trying to adjust to this climate and just when I think everything needs water then it looks like I've overwatered. My garden produced some, not as much as I had hoped. But now it is August and even though everything is still alive, there is less flowering and not any producing. I'm thinking the heat is just way too intense. I put an umbrella over my strawberries and now they are just dying completely.

I'm hoping that I will be able to have a good fall crop with this climate. But I think August is still way to hot to start planting. I would appreciate any shared experiences and advice for gardening in AZ.

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Strawberries are difficult ones to grow and keep alive through our hot summers. 2 varieties, Sequoia and Chandler seem to do the best here. Heavy mulch, good water, and shade cloth should get them through the summer.

Gardening in Arizona (phoenix area) is all about timing in my opinion. You have to start your tomatoes/peppers/eggplants early and get them in the ground in feb/march or the heat creeps up fast. Pollination then becomes virtually impossible. Certain vegetables absolutely thrive here in the summer though with some care...cantaloupe, okra, basil to name a few.

For a fall/winter garden I will start my greens indoors in early to mid September and then transplant in October. I've found it to be too hot any earlier. I did plant some squash/beans in late July and they are doing well. It's a little late right now to start a fall crop of say tomatoes or winter squash but it's probably ok to try some early producing beans and summer squash.

Another hugely important thing is to amend our soil with copious amounts of compost. In a relatively short period of time, you can make our clay dirt into amazing rich soil

This planting calendar might help. Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Planting Calendar

    Bookmark   August 21, 2010 at 6:08PM
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softmentor(z9/sunset13 CA desert)

summer is brutal on most veg/s add eggplant to the list of those that can pull through, but it is a very short list.
Actually, Aug 15 is a good time to plant watermelon, and other melon, pumpkin, summer squash, and other "summer" veg's. I start tomatoes in Oct. then protect them from frost, that way you have a vine that is ready to start flowering and setting as soon as the nights are warm enough.
I agree, mulch, mulch, mulch, but on top of the soil, NOT dug in.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2010 at 9:29PM
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What I'm growing now that is producing include okra, armenian cucumbers, hot chilis, gypsy peppers, marconi peppers, blackeyed peas, bush beans, tomatillo, swiss chard (with a little afternoon shade), eggplant, malabar spinich, butternut squash, yellow crooknecks and basil. I have cantaloup and sugarbaby melons that are just beginning to flower. I usually plant my fall veggies mid Sept. thru mid Oct. which include carrots, beets, turnips, parsnips, snap peas, kale,fennel, lettuces, radishes, broccoli raab. Onions are planted Oct. or Nov. and Leek transplants anytime from Nov. thru early Jan. I did a mid Sept. planting of tomato transplants mid Sept. last year in a small community garden plot and were harvesting roma, cherry and yellow pear tomatoes from beginning Nov. You just have to be prepared to protect them from frost. Gardening in our summer heat can be a challenge, fall, winter and spring are great though. Good luck and happy gardening.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2010 at 6:02PM
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littleluey(Zone 9)

This is also my first summer with my vegetable bed, and I made a few mistakes.
But one thing I did was to get a shade for my raised bed and small trees, it made a difference. I also water my veggies everyday and some small trees in containers as well. they seem to be doing good.
I have watermelons now and i should get some cantalupes soon I hope

    Bookmark   August 23, 2010 at 7:04PM
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Thank you so much for all your comments and suggestions. I so appreciate it.

When you use a shade cloth, do you cover it just in the afternoon, or do you have automatic tree shade for your garden?

Are there degrees of shade cloth?

Does it get too cold at night here for tomatoes in the winter?

And SUNDROP, I'm so jealous you are getting that much production out of your vegetable garden in this heat. How much are you watering?

    Bookmark   August 25, 2010 at 5:02PM
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With a bit of frost protection you can get tomatoes, eggplant and chilis through the winter. That gets you early production.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2010 at 9:40AM
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Tiredmama, some things I have to water everyday, even then the squash really wilt down but always perk up in the evenings. The blackeyes, eggplant and peppers I usually water every other day unless we get the occasional rain.

there are degrees of shadecloth, I've seen it at the nurseries from about 40% to some at Walmart that is 80%. I think the recommended for tomatoes is around 40 or 50% which is what I use. We put up a semi-permanent structure towards the end of May over the tomatoes and take it down in Sept. when it starts cooling off. When frost threatens I just throw a frost cloth or sheet over the cages.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2010 at 4:11PM
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Thank you so much for your input.

I am getting ready to plant my winter garden from seeds that I've started indoors. My tomato plants seem to be doing much better now that I've found them some shade and I water a small amount every morning. When the weather starts to cool down even more then I can probably cut back to every other day.

Live and learn!

    Bookmark   September 12, 2010 at 11:42PM
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I highly recommend anyone who wants to grow vegetables here during the watch these Master Gardener Videos and take notes.

Home Vegetable Gardening Part I

Home Vegetable Gardening Part II

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 2:28AM
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