The Q&A Archives: Growing Sorrel In Arizona

Question: I would appreciate any information you could give me on growing sorrel in Scottsdale Arizona. Best time of the year to grow, when do you pick the leaves?

Answer: Sorrel is grown as a cool-season green in the low desert. Different varieties have different days to maturity but leaves should be ready for harvest in 40-60 days. 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 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.

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! Good luck!

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