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Fall is a busy time for me in the garden.  However, you will usually find me in other people’s gardens helping them achieve their goal of a beautiful, low-maintenance garden. I did manage to get my cool-season vegetable gardens planted.  I planted my favorites, which include carrots, cauliflower, garlic, a variety of leaf lettuces and radishes.

 
 
I included broccoli in my list of vegetables this year, despite the fact that I have yet to grow a healthy head of broccoli (the broccoli in the photo above is from my mother’s garden).
 
Every year, I grow beautiful cauliflower while my broccoli decides to produce very few flowering stalks.  At the end of the season when I look at my less than stellar broccoli harvest – I promise myself that I won’t try again.
 
But, after 6 months pass, I am always tempted to try again hoping that this year will be different.
 
With the exception of carrots and radishes, I planted all of my other vegetables from transplants.  Normally, I almost always use seed, (with the exception of broccoli and cauliflower, which do better when grown from transplants) but I knew that I wouldn’t have time to come out and thin excess plants later.
 
 
This smaller vegetable garden is closer to my kitchen and so I put in vegetables that I would harvest more frequently throughout the season in this area.  Leafy greens such as lettuce, Swiss chard, spinach and kale all went in here.
 
The larger garden is a bit further away and so it was planted with broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, garlic and radishes, which are harvested once.
 
My artichoke plant from next year died back to the ground in the summer, (which is normal by the way) and is now growing again.



In addition to my artichoke, my bell pepper plant is also a holdover from last year’s garden.  Actually, it is 2 years old.  Although pepper plants can die from freezing temperatures, I protect mine when the temps dip below freezing, so they are qutie large and produce a lot of peppers much to the delight of my husband and children who like to eat the bell peppers raw.



I also dice them and freeze them for using in my favorite Mexican rice recipe.

I’ve already had to spray my leafy greens with BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) to deal with the caterpillars that had started to eat holes in the leaves.  It worked great, but I will need to reapply every once in a while. I use Safer Brand 5163 Caterpillar Killer II Concentrate, 16 oz.
 
 
Nasturtiums are coming up again from seed in the gardens.  I just let them go to seed each year and they always come back.  I use nasturtiums in my vegetable gardens because they repel bad bugs.  Besides, they look pretty, don’t you think?
 
 
Nasturtiums aren’t the only flowers in my vegetable gardens – marigolds are also great at keeping damaging insects at bay.  This year, I planted a marigold at the end of each row of vegetables.
 
I love how their orange flowers brighten up the garden in the middle of winter.
 
Marigolds and nasturtiums are just a few of the flowers who actually help vegetables.  For more information on other plants to include in your vegetable garden you can visit my previous post, “Even Vegetables Need Friends”.
 
 
I am having a problem in one of my vegetable gardens that began this past summer – spurge!  I have come to truly hate this creeping weed and it has decided to move from the nearby landscape areas into my vegetable garden.
 
It got pretty bad last summer and we ripped it all out.  To help combat it, we added 4 inches of compost/manure, which did help to smother some of the weeds.  But, some are still coming up.  So, I go out every week and spray them with my homemade weed killer, taking care not to spray my vegetables by accident.
 
You may see homemade weed killers that list salt as one of the ingredients.  DON’T add salt to weed killers – especially if you live in the desert Southwest.  Our soil and water already has a lot of salts in them and adding more is not good for your plants – in fact, too much salt can kill them.
 
Homemade weed killer made from vinegar and soap works just fine on most weeds, except for the really tough ones.
 
Have you planted a vegetable garden this year?  What are you growing?
 
 
Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a horticulturist, certified arborist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."

6 replies
  1. goodtogrow
    goodtogrow says:

    Ok, so here's my question for you. Is there any proof that Marigolds protect your garden from pests? Because the Internet is alive with praise for them. But in my experience, white flies are attracted to Marigolds, and then the white flies spread that leaf curl virus to the tomato plants. Ruining them.

    I think Marigolds are better for deterring critters who don't like the scent. But that's not a problem in downtown Abq. I mean, we have raccoons and such, but not many pesky animals. But the white flies are everywhere and it seems they love Marigolds. So I keep Marigolds away from my tomatoes.

    I don't claim to understand the science of it. Have you had any experience? It kinda bugs me how everyone online extols the virtues of Marigolds without describing the downsides. Gardening is all about give and take. What's your take? I'm interested, because your education is much greater than mine. I'm just observing with no formal training.

    Reply
  2. claudette
    claudette says:

    It's good to hear business is good and you're keeping busy! Thanks for the tip about not planting broccoli from seed. I was just about to do that! I guess I'll go buy some seedlings this weekend!

    Reply
  3. Brandi
    Brandi says:

    I have not started my vegetable garden but have started the process of preparing an area for transplants. I think I will start with herbs and edible flowers since I am new to gardening. Do you eat nasturtiums? I have heard the flowers and leaves make for a great salad addition… Also, when your broccoli doesn't produce crowns, do you eat the greens? Broccoli greens are my new favorite veggie! I had no idea that they were edible until I read about it in Martha Stewart living. Yum!

    Reply
  4. arizonaplantlady@gmail.com
    arizonaplantlady@gmail.com says:

    Thank you for your comments!

    Brandi, I had heard of people eating broccoli greens, but haven't tried them myself. I will definitely use them this year!

    Hi Liza. Great question! I have found that marigolds repel aphids, crickets and whiteflies. It is the scent of marigolds that they find so objectionable, so make sure you use the French species (Tagetes). I've always used marigolds, so I have no comparison, personally, to how insect damage would increase without them. However, I notice more insect damage in client's vegetable gardens who do not use companion plants such as marigolds. I hope helps!

    Noelle 'azplantlady'

    Reply
  5. RobinL
    RobinL says:

    It's such a strange concept to me, having a second round of vegetable garden to enjoy each year. I'm used to the winter rest, but I do so miss my fresh vegetables and herbs. A two year old pepper plant, what a thing! Enjoy every bite.

    Reply
  6. Indie
    Indie says:

    Oh, what a wonderful thing to be working on a new veggie garden! And what beautiful bell peppers! I love nasturtiums in veggie gardens – I always plant them in mine. Sadly, we already have freezing temperatures here, and it's already snowed a couple times. I still have a tomato plant going in the greenhouse, though!

    Reply

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