First garden in years....need advice!

kiwi-in-arizonaMay 7, 2008

Hello....I'm new here. I live in N. Arizona in a canyon with steep sides, so sun, or lack of it, can be an issue. I've chosen the sunniest part of the yard - a flower bed that has fabulous soil from years of composting, but it is a small area, about 6' x 8'. I can scatter some veggies elsewhere in flower beds and in containers.

I used to be an avid organic gardener 30 years ago, but haven't had a veggie garden since then. I need all the help I can get!

I'm at 5,000 feet altitude. The veggie bed will get 6 hours of sun a day. I border national forest and have plenty of deer, javelina, skunk, raccoon. Last summer, a bear ate all my apricots. Not sure if he'll be interested in a veggie garden.

I need your advice on which veggies to put in containers - and which to put in the garden.

Crook-neck squash

bush beans



bell pepper

cilantro (though probably too late)

swiss chard

I'll put in tomatoes and potatoes (if not too late)


I've tried zucchini in the past but it doesn't fruit. Perhaps not enough sun?

I've lived in this house for 30 years. I'm an avid composter and have never used any poison sprays, etc. so I've got a good start.

I would appreciate any advice! Thanks.

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southshoregardener(z7 NY)

OK, I'll take a stab at this although I have never grown veggies in containers and have no experience at your altitude (not sure what impact altitude has on gardening).

For containers: bell peppers and bush beans.
In the garden: beets, radishes, squash
Either way: cilantro, swiss chard, bush beans

I moved last year so I don't have my potager established yet. Been watching the sun exposure now that leaves are on the trees and planning. To get by this year I have put some herbs, tomatoes and eggplants in my flower beds. My husband built two "portable salad boxes" for me to grow lettuce and then switch to bush beans. He made it deeper than the plan. Here is the link if you are interested:

    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 7:55AM
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Hold yer horses there!!!!

You're in high desert conditions--with 5,000 ft alt, your plants will probably fry like eggs on a hot skillet in that sun! It's not the heat at all--it's the intensity of the sunlight that burns plants to a crisp. You live in one of the few places where most veggie gardens are a LOT better off in part shade. My neighbors' veggie gardens in NM were pretty funny--it's the only place where you'd make a point of planting your tomatoes in the shade of a shed!

    Bookmark   October 14, 2008 at 11:06PM
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homegrown54(z6 SE Ohio)

Since I live in Ohio, I don't have a lot of realtime advice to give you but... i have found that keeping the pots cooler helps not to cook my little friends.

And, remember the scene in the Godfather where Marlon Brando's character dies in the tomato garden? Of course I was looking at all the garden part and saw some very cool 'tents' over the tomatoes... am going to try that to prevent sun scald. It's a thought. Opinions are like belly buttons, everybody has one!

Perhaps you can glean what the native people in the same altitude used to grow...

Best of luck! Homegrown54

    Bookmark   December 7, 2008 at 3:54PM
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Some vegetables can grow with a half day of full sun; usually these vegetables will do best if they are in sun in the morning and protected from intense sunlight in the afternoon. Vegetables that will survive with five or six hours of sunlight each day include: beets, carrots, cauliflower, chard, radishes, spinach.

The following vegetables will grow with a minimum of two to three hours of sun each day: beets, broccoli, chives, garlic, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mint, parsley, radishes, rhubarb, salsify, spinach, turnips.

To keep the critters out of your garden, frame your 6 x 8 bed as you would a raised bed, place hoops or an upright frame over the top and mold chicken wire across the hoops or frame--as you would a plastic growing tunnel. When the summer sun is intense, drape horticultural cloth or shade cloth over the chicken wire--critter and intense sunlight problems solved. You can make the frame portable to lift on and off or fashion an A-frame to lift only the sides. In cold weather, place 2 mil or greater plastic sheeting over the frame and you have a cold-frame for extended season growing in early spring and late autumn.

Almost any in-the-ground vegetable can be grown in a container if the container allows enough root space. Choose compact, bush, miniature, or dwarf vegetable varieties if your container space is limited. (See the link below for a list of vegetable varieties for containers.) On rollers, your containers can be moved to pick up more sunlight each day or seasonally.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   December 18, 2008 at 11:00AM
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