The Q&A Archives: Planting Times For Hot Weather

Question: I live in sunny Arizona. I am getting ready to start my garden. I would like to know what vegetables can be planted now. It is mid Sept. and still 110 degrees. How soon and what can I plant? Thank you for any advice you have.

Answer: There are two distinct growing seasons in the low desert with different annuals thriving in each season. There's a cool season from approximately the end of September through April. Annuals can be installed from late September to February. Some gardeners prefer to wait until October, as cooler temperatures also help kill off whitefly populations which can quickly decimate plants. The warm season starts with planting in mid to late February. Some plants will make it through the summer's heat; others will end their growth when the heat arrives.

A rule of thumb for cool-season vegetables is that we eat parts of the plant itself, such as leaves (lettuces/greens), stems (kale, broccoli and other cole crops) and roots (beets, carrots, turnips, onions). (In the warm season, we eat the seeds and fruits (tomatoes, peppers, cukes). The major exception is peas. Although we eat the seeds, we plant them in the cool season. Root crops do best if sown in place, rather than transplanted. Cole crops do well as transplants. I find leafy crops can go either way, but sowing in the ground seems easier to me, since thinning can be used in a salad!

A good reference book that contains planting calendars for the low desert is called "Desert Gardening for Beginners: How to Grow Vegetables, Flowers and Herbs in an Arid Climate." ISBN 0-9651987-2-3. Good luck!

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