Tag Archive for: Vegetable Gardening in Arizona

Well, I have to admit, that in the past, I did not truly understand the allure of vegetable gardening.  Sure, I had to grow my own plot of vegetables in college for my horticulture class – but that was for a grade.  I also dutifully helped people create their own gardens, but I never had one for myself.  

That was then, and this is now….I am completely hooked on vegetable gardening!  Each morning, I go out to see how my plants are doing and the kids hurry home for school and check to see if there have been any changes.  Their favorite thing to do is to find the newly ripened cherry tomatoes to eat – they never make it to our salads.

vegetable gardening

Vegetable gardening

I just love this view outside of my family room window.  I can see the tops of my corn just over the fence and my flowering Palo Verde in the background.  The Palo Verde flowers are providing a nice layer of mulch for my garden.

At first, it seemed like it was taking a long time for my small plants to begin growing.  I celebrated each time a tiny seedling germinated, but it seemed to take a while for them to really get going.  But, that is probably because I was watching them so closely every day, which reminds me of the saying “A watched pot never boils.” 

That is where pictures help to provide a healthy dose of reality for me.  Below, is a picture I took of our little garden, just two weeks after planting from seed….

vegetable gardening

Vegetable gardening

*The transplants in the seed trays were for an upcoming service project and I also gave some to my mother for her garden.

Now, I know that I did not organize my plantings very well and probably have done quite a few things wrong, but that is what is fun about gardening.  You can learn so much just by doing.  For example, you should have three rows of corn in order for them to pollinate each other.  Since I do not have that much corn, I will have the kids help with the pollination, so they can learn even more about how things grow.

That is where pictures help to provide a healthy dose of reality for me.  Below, is a picture I took of our little garden, just two weeks after planting from seed….

vegetable gardening

*The transplants in the seed trays were for an upcoming service project and I also gave some to my mother for her garden.

Now, I know that I did not organize my plantings very well and probably have done quite a few things wrong, but that is what is fun about gardening.  You can learn so much just by doing.  For example, you should have three rows of corn in order for them to pollinate each other.  Since I do not have that much corn, I will have the kids help with the pollination, so they can learn even more about how things grow.

Below is a picture taken two weeks ago of my tomato plant in the right back corner and there is such a difference.

vegetable gardening

You can see above my tomato plant has grown quite a bit in just four weeks and I have pumpkin growing in the foreground ( I realize that we sowed the pumpkin seedlings too early and will probably have pumpkins this summer, but the kids were so excited to grow some right now).

Now, come see the garden at just six weeks after sowing the seeds.  I must admit, that I am a little bit proud of our garden 🙂

vegetable gardening

The corn is now taller then the fence and I can see the corn flower starting to emerge.  

vegetable gardening

Our single tomato plant is growing so beautifully and produces quite a few tomatoes for us.  I will be planting a lot more tomato plants next time – maybe give each of the kids their own plant.

vegetable gardening

Our climate is ideal for growing watermelon and I cannot wait to see the flowers start to appear on our watermelon plants.


The  flowers are starting to appear on our cucumber plants.


I love the large leaves of the pumpkin plant.


My tiny oregano plant is starting to look more like a little plant then just a couple of leaves.  *This is a macro-view and the plant is actually still quite small.

oregano plant

You can tell that I have already started to use some of my basil 🙂


My sunflowers are starting to grow tall.

And I can see that flowers are almost ready to appear….


Some years, it seems that we go straight from winter into summer and skip over spring.  But this year, we have had a lovely spring, but now that temperatures are climbing into the 90’s, I have covered some of the garden in shade cloth (the corn are too tall and do not require shade).  This helps to protect the leaves and vegetables from becoming sunburned.  

My daughter, Ruthie, is so proud of our little garden and made me a sign for the garden for Mother’s Day.  She cut it out of wood (with her dad’s help) and painted it for me.

our garden

Thank you so much for letting me show you how our garden is growing.

I will post another update soon, probably as soon as I see some flowers.

Have a great day!

Well as promised, this is the last installment of the creation of our vegetable garden.  The journey has been quite a bit longer then we had anticipated due to some unexpected interruptions….a dead car battery & a broken arm.  

Now we had all of our materials and my husband was going to get started on cutting wood and creating the fencing for our new vegetable garden.  All along, I had a picture in my mind of how nice our little fence would look and I was anxious to plant my seeds.  To be honest, I was getting tired of spending my evenings just staring at pictures of corn, cucumbers, watermelon and sunflowers on my seed packets.  I wanted them in the ground so I could stare at real vegetables and fruit.

Vegetable Garden

 I had our whole afternoon planned out so we could finish our garden, when the phone rang….

Our oldest daughter had fallen down the stairs at her apartment complex and had broken both of her feet.  We rushed to be with her at the hospital.  It turns out that she broke her left ankle and her right foot.  Needless to say, it was going to be very difficult for her to get around.

And so, two days later we were all gathered out in the garden again and started working on the fencing.  My oldest daughter and her husband came out to visit and our youngest kids were so anxious to see her because they had been so worried about her feet.


My daughter is able to use a wheelchair and crutches to get around, but must stay off her feet as much as possible.  She cannot drive for 6 weeks, so has to rely on her husband and family to drive her to and from school where she teaches.

It was a perfect day….beautiful weather, time to finish the garden, and all of my kids under one roof for at least a little while.  My husband started to put the fence together with help from the kids.

creation of our vegetable garden

 The fence went up quite quickly and I could hardly wait to get inside and start planting.  First, I planted a tomato plant.

creation of our vegetable garden

Then it was time to deconstruct our Children’s Flower Garden and take the surviving flowers and plant them in our new garden.

creation of our vegetable garden
creation of our vegetable garden

Geraniums typically do not survive our hot summers, and are treated as winter annuals.  I have some examples of them surviving the summer and so we will see how they will do in their new location. 

Now the kids and I were ready to plant our seeds.

creation of our vegetable garden

Our third oldest daughter, is most excited about planting watermelon seeds.

watermelon seeds

My son had fun planting corn, which is a great plant to grow because they germinate quickly and their seeds are large and easy for a child to plant.


We are planting two separate crops of pumpkin – one right now, and the other later this summer.

I could hardly believe that we had FINALLY finished.  That evening, I just sat outside by our new garden, just feeling so content and happy that all was finished.

Now, we wait for our seeds to sprout….

In yesterday’s post, I am sure that I left you all on the edge of your seats, waiting to see how we fared after our van, which was fully loaded with supplies for our new vegetable garden, wouldn’t start in the parking lot of our local big box store.

It turned out that it was a dead battery, which was easy for my husband to replace, but it took up the rest of our afternoon – so we did not get any work done on our garden.  

Vegetable Garden

The next morning found us up, bright and early, eager to begin work on our garden.  We had already dug the existing soil to a depth of 1 ft., breaking up large clumps and raking it smooth.  Then we, (meaning my husband), began to add the bagged garden soil, compost and manure to the existing soil.

Vegetable Garden

You know what says love to me?  A wonderful husband who spreads manure for your new garden without complaining 😉

Then it was time to go back to the big box store to buy the wood we needed in order to make the raised planter and the fence.

Why did we have to build a fence, you may ask?

Tobey and Missy

Well, there are two reasons, and their names are Tobey and Missy.

On our way to the big box store, we dropped two of children off at their weekly Chinese school.  Our three youngest children were adopted from China and they are taking Chinese lessons.

Now, we had some ideas of what we wanted to use to make a fence.  But, you know the feeling you get when you are standing in the aisle of your local big box store, faced with multiple choices and all of them have their merits?  Well, that was our problem.  There were so many choices and we had to spend some extra time figuring out which choice would be best for keeping the dogs out, would be attractive and kind to our budget.

Well, we did make our choice and had a lot of wood cut and ready to take home.  As we headed to the checkout, we looked at our watches and realized that our kids had gotten out of school 10 minutes ago.  So, I left my husband at the checkout, sped as quickly as I could, without getting pulled over, to their school – I was 20 minutes late and felt like an awful parent.

I went back to the big box store and picked up my husband, and we got all of the wood home and stacked on the patio.  The next morning, we woke up to pouring rain…another interruption.

The next day, I had a landscape consultation in the morning, but I was excited to get back to working on our vegetable garden in the afternoon.  As I was on my way home from the consult, I got a call from my husband saying that my son may have broken his arm.  So, instead of working in the garden, we spent the afternoon in the orthopedist’s office.  The doctor is not positive if his arm was broken or not, so my son has to wear a brace for a couple of weeks and then will get another x-ray.  *Thank you for your kind comments for my son.

That was the third interruption for those of you who are keeping count, as I am sure most of you are 😉  I was beginning to think that maybe we were not meant to have a vegetable garden. **I apologize for the lack of pictures, but we had not accomplished enough at this point to take pictures of 🙂

Tomorrow, is the last installment of “A Vegetable Garden Interrupted” and yes, there is one more interruption to come….    

Our first foray into vegetable gardening, as a family, was well on it’s way to becoming reality…. the site had been selected, the seeds purchased, the time set aside in our schedule and then….life happened.

I had a vegetable garden as a child.  My father made raised planters for me and my siblings.  We would select what we wanted to grow inside.  For me, it was usually a combination of vegetables and flowers.  As a horticulture student in college, we had to grow our plot of vegetables at the school farm and I have also helped plant vegetable gardens for charity.  But, that is really as far as my vegetable gardening experience goes.  

The entire family has been looking forward to having a vegetable garden, especially the kids.  I am a planner and so I love to plan things out ahead of time.   At first everything was going very smoothly.  We had a good site, that faces east, ensuring the garden would receive some relief from the hot summer sun in the afternoon.

Vegetable gardening

As you can see, there is not much going on in this area. 

Vegetable gardening

First, we tackled removing the existing shrubs.  We decided to try to transplant them into another part of the garden.  First, I pruned them back severely in order to remove most of the leaves.  

*Since the shrubs would lose many of their roots and therefore their ability to take up water when transplanted – I made sure that most of their leaves were removed since they would lose a lot of water through their leaves, which would lessen the chance that they would transplant successfully.

Vegetable gardening

I immediately put each shrub into a pail of water for a good soak.  To be honest, I do not really care either way if these shrubs survive.  I guess that sounds heartless, but it is the truth.  They have never done that well for me, but if they survive being transplanted, perhaps they will like their new location better.  Although we have attached them to our irrigation system, they will require extra water, which we will supply for the next few weeks.

**In the desert, it is best to dig up plants and transplant them during cooler weather and should not be done in the summer.  It will also help them if they are shaded temporarily.  This can be done easily by just placing a patio chair over them for a few weeks.

Vegetable gardening

Vegetable gardening

We, (meaning my husband), raked back the gravel (rock).  The kids can be seen in the background looking at what remains of their “Children’s Flower Garden”.  We will transplant some of those flowers to the new vegetable garden.

Vegetable gardening

I am so blessed by the men in my life 🙂  They never complain about helping me in the garden.

Vegetable gardening

Vegetable gardening

Then it was time to loosen up the existing soil to a depth of about 1 ft.  Although I do not appear in any of these photos, I was working.  I dug up my share of soil. – my sore back proved that the next day.  Projects seem to take longer when you have to keep pausing to take a picture of each step 😉

We were now ready to go to the store to buy soil, compost, manure and wood for our vegetable garden.

buy soil, compost, manure

We had fun at the garden department and came away with soil, manure and step stones, which were on sale.  The step stones will be used inside the garden so that we can easily access the vegetables without stepping on them.

It turned out that we did not have room for the wood, so would have to return the next day for that.

After we had loaded up the car with all we had bought….the car would not start.  We had a dead battery.

This was only the first interruption of our vegetable garden project.  Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow….

**Thank you for the well-wishes for my oldest daughter, who broke both of her feet last Thursday after falling down the stairs at her apartment complex.  She is doing fairly well, although it is hard for her to get around.  We are taking her to the orthopedist today to see what he has to say.

A Vegetable Garden Interrupted….Again

little seedlings

Isn’t there something just so wonderful when you see little seedlings start to sprout?  It makes me feel like it is springtime even though it is still the middle of winter when I see the tiny green leaves begin to break out from the soil.  The broccoli sprouted in less then a week.

Many types of vegetables and fruit grow very well in the desert.  Lettuce is the top agricultural product that is grown in Arizona.  Other crops include melons, broccoli, citrus, cauliflower, onions and carrots, wheat and corn.

little seedlings

Growing vegetables is a very popular past-time for many backyard gardeners.  You can find more information on what vegetables grow in the Arizona desert and when to plant them at The Arizona Master Gardener Vegetable Guide .

Now, some of you may (or may not) be wondering what I have to confess now.  I’ve already confessed to not having my favorite flower in my garden, you can read my earlier post here if you like.  What else could there be?

For those of you who have kindly followed my blog for a while, you may be wondering if these seedlings are mine – you may have noticed that I have not shown any pictures of my vegetable garden in the past.  Well, there is a good reason for that….I don’t have one.   Now, I honestly love vegetable gardens and have planted them for others and raised my own as a child.  I’ve also had to grow my own plot of vegetables at college when I was earning my horticulture degree – I had to learn how to do it well because I was being graded 😉

That being said, my true love in the garden are ornamental plants and I only have so much space to fit them all in and still have room for any new plants that I fall in love with.  

little seedlings

I have the wonderful fortune to live only 5 minutes away from Double S Farms, which is the residence of my mother, youngest sister and her family.  They have a wonderful vegetable garden and the seedlings belong to them.  

Since it is important to me to provide information about all types of desert gardening, I will be posting about Double S Farm’s vegetable garden in the future….and Little Farmers #1 & 2 🙂