New Gardner...New Garden...HELP... - Knowledgebase Question

San Manuel, Ar
Question by jlgarcia8563
June 22, 2010
I live in southern AZ, a bit north of Tucson. I have never gardened before. I would like to start a vegetable/herb garden. I have a back yard that is all dirt that grows yellow grass and weeds. I want to build a raised garden bed. When would be the best time to start? What do I need to build? How do I build it? Would like to keep inexpensive.What vegetables/herbs to start with? need help thanks.

Answer from NGA
June 22, 2010


Sounds like you're excited to get started! Since the hot weather is only just beginning you'll want to spend the time building your raised bed and preparing it for planting, but you'll need to wait until late August to actually plant your veggies. There are two growing seasons in the Valley of the Sun; late August planting of cool season veggies such as lettuces, cabbage, beans and peas (they'll ripen before December), and late February for warm season veggies such as squash and tomatoes (they'll ripen before the weather gets too hot.

Building a raised bed can be as easy or as complicated as you choose. First, find a site that receives full sunshine all day long if you plan to grow veggies or flowers used for cutting. Mark the site out. Depending upon whether you'll be growing tender annuals and perennials, or woody perennials, plan on a depth of soil somewhere between 18 and 24 inches (to accommodate root mass). Check locally for a good source of a 3-way mix. Recipes vary, but the topsoil should contain one part sand, one part compost, and one part garden soil. Steer away from mixes with sawdust as the organic content. Then comes the hard part - you can simply dump the soil in the area you've marked out for the bed and pile it up to the correct height, gradually sloping the sides to prevent too much of the soil from eroding, or you can build a form out of wood to help contain the soil. There are many kinds of outdoor timbers available, or you can use redwood or cedar. If you choose treated wood you may want to line the sides prior to adding soil (to prevent leaching of the chemicals into the soil of your garden). Or, you can avoid growing root crops close to the timbers. Again, just a precaution, but peace of mind is worth the extra effort. There's nothing complicated about growing plants in raised beds, and the plants aren't particular about how the finished product looks - they're just interested in adequate sunshine, water and nutrition. Good luck with your project!

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