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seeing_stars 04-28-2010 08:21 PM

Our climate presents some unique challenges, I'd lvoe to have a thread with tips and perspectives from other AZ gardeners.

I am a new gardener, growing in one pre fab raised bed, some containers and a few areas in the ground. I have big plans for next year when I can prepare more (I had knee surgery twice this year + moving= no time to fence and prepare my large yard).

My bell peppers are not growing at all. They are not dead or dying, but they have just not grown.

My container tomatoes are doing well, but the celebrity tomatoes in my raised bed have grown maybe 1 inch in the past month. Why?

Should I get some shade cloth for my raised bed? Half is tomatoes and bell peppers, half has zucchini and yellow squash. They wilt down to the ground already during the day in spite of being well watered, I'm unclear of whether "full sun" means full sun for moderate climates, not for the desert.

Thoughts? Commiseration?

SundayCrepes 04-29-2010 12:37 AM

I'm in Tucson. Where are you?

I put in bell peppers mid March and they've hardly grown--maybe a little in the last week. I mentioned that in another thread (one about bell peppers, actually) and someone from Mesa said the same thing--or was that you?

I haven't had a garden in YEARS. An old boyfriend and I had a gorgeous one. Once it started getting hot we put up shade cloth. I still have it and will have to figure a way to put it over my current garden in probably a month or sooner.

I don't have problems with wilting yet. Have you mulched? I have a ton of straw on my garden. I went out to water tonight and saw it was still wet under the straw.

I planted early girl tomatoes and one cherry tomato. They are doing well.

Sorry I don't have any specifics for you. My experience just isn't recent enough.

Have you tried calling your county extension office?

seeing_stars 04-29-2010 12:44 PM

I'm in Mesa

I do have mulch down and that seems to help a little. Last year I took the advice of the guy at the nursery and only watered once a day and my entire garden died within a couple days, it was so frustrating. I think I will do shade cloth after it hits 100. I've also tried planting things closer together than the package said hoping that they will shade each other, not sure if that was a smart move or not, time will tell.

SundayCrepes 04-29-2010 01:15 PM

How much compost is in your garden? I think the compost holds more water than local dirt. I put in $60 worth of compost (12 bags, I think) then planted. I found out the community food bank has a gardeners club and gives 1 cubic yard of compost for free so I added that after the plants were already growing nicely. Then I mulched with 3 or 4 inches of straw. I should measure my garden but I think it's maybe 6 or 8 feet by 15 feet or so.

I dug about 8 inches down in my garden so that I'd have room to build up the soil. Also, since I'm not doing drip irrigation, yet, I wanted the water to stay in the garden. The garden is also surrounded by trees so there is some natural shade at various times of the day.

I planted a few corn plants--so the kid could see where corn comes from--and put it on the west side to act as some shade. I put a cherry tomato plant on the east side and will train it to grow up a trellis to offer a little shade to the tomatoes west of it. Maybe it's the variety of cherry tomato, but it's not growing as fast as plants I've had in the past.

I'm sure a raised garden and pots need more water.

seeing_stars 04-29-2010 02:27 PM

I really want to get plants in the actual ground next year it just was not possible this year. I cannot kneel at all because of my surgeries and my "garden area" needs to be scraped with a backhoe, tilled and amended. My garden area right now is about 20x9, the area next year will be 18x40 or so. I need to fence because I have a pet rabbit who loves to eat the "good stuff". I want to plant fruit trees that will give some shade in the back(south) corner and will use the idea of adding vining plants and corn for a little shade too. I have a strip of giant sunflower in my current space that will hopefully give shade, though at only a couple inches tall right now it will be a while. My plan for next year involves drip irrigation but right now I am watering with a hose and shower wand.

I think that Iam going to try watermelon and cantaloupe in my front yard and hope that the HOA doesn't make a fuss about it.

desertgirl01 04-29-2010 03:15 PM

My garden is a combination of raised planters and in-ground stuff. For the inground part, I dug down at least 12 inches and added compost, manure, and garden soil that I had brought in from some landscaping company. Hardly any "natural" soil is left, so it's really like an in-ground container. The raised planters are about 24" high.

In the past, I planted very densely, and the plants shaded each other, but the production wasn't great. This year I've really worked on thinning plants out. I'm also using sunflowers to shade my squash (sort of a version of a 3 sisters garden with sunflowers instead of corn)! We'll see how it works out. I also have metal trellises (concrete support panels) bent over the planters for melons and beans to twine around and provide shade. I haven't been able to figure out how to build a big shade structure to cover the garden while still looking good, so the above ideas are aesthetically pleasing and functional.

Let's see, my peppers aren't doing much right now either. They like it HOT!

Everything in my raised planters is thriving and doing wonderfully. Everything in ground is doing well, but starts in my planters are seriously about 6x bigger than the same starts in the ground (for example, my sunflowers in the ground are about 6" high--my sunflowers in the planters are about 3' tall already--planted the same weekend). Squash in the planters are about to flower, squash in the ground are barely past their first leaves. Not sure what is going on. Everything is drip irrigated. Seeing Stars, if things are already wilting, you may need to water in the afternoon too. You'll definitely need to water 2x a day when it's hotter.

I just expanded my garden area. Still planning the space out, which is super fun. I'm thinking about some fruit trees in there expansion area, but torn between space for veggies and space for these trees!

I need to figure out a fencing solution too, but I honestly dont' think much will work. My yard backs out to a natural wash, and our fence is wrought iron. I've bunny proofed the iron, but last year lived-trapped 9 packrats in the garden. There's not much I can do to keep them out! One thing that seems to work abit is marigolds (at least the bunnies don't seem to like them), and they've pretty much naturalized in my garden.

Oh yeah, I'm in Tucson.

SundayCrepes 04-29-2010 04:47 PM

When I had a garden in the desert, we dug down quite deep and put chicken wire on the ground. Then we lined the side of the garden with plywood. The plywood came up a couple feet higher than the outside ground. We had 2x4s up and over to provide stability to the plywood, make a place for more chicken wire fencing, and to hold a shade cloth cover. It worked really well.

We filled in with nothing but horse manure. It was a great garden. Of course, now I wonder if plywood is safe to have near a food supply. However, we never had any land critters get into the garden. The birds we kept away by putting blow up snakes in the garden. They eventually figured out the snakes weren't real. I can't remember if we started moving them around after that or not.

desertgirl01 04-29-2010 06:36 PM

The blow up snakes is a good idea. Last fall, after birds decimated my spring seedlings, I hung old cd's at varying lengths from the wire trellises. This year, with the wind blowing the cds everywhere, I don't think a bird could manage a landing. At least, my seedlings made it. When the sunflower seeds are ready, the birds can have a party. The lovely little yellow finches make my day!

We have chicken wired part of the garden off--attached chicken wire to the wrought iron fence. I think the next security measure will be to put up one of those cheap bamboo fences against the wrought iron. I know it could be easily chewed through, but I'm too lazy to do much else. Live trapping was also pretty successful if I'm really having a problem. I can share some things with the critters--but my first year gardening all my watermelons were gnawed on just as they turned ripe. That particular problem hasn't occured since--I've not had any watermelon vines grow more than a few inches since then, though this year I think will be my lucky year.

SundayCrepes 04-29-2010 08:23 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by desertgirl01 View Post
I've not had any watermelon vines grow more than a few inches since then, though this year I think will be my lucky year.
My cantaloupe isn't growing much. I wondered if maybe it was that they need more heat. Now I'm paranoid. My family loves cantaloupe and I thought I'd give it a try. I keep looking at how many blossoms it has and wondering how such a little vine can support so many melons (it can't.)

desertgirl01 05-03-2010 06:35 PM

Usually the first flowers are male flowers...there's some reason for that but I can't remember. So perhaps your cantaloupe won't have to support too many melons just yet.

SC, it was nice meeting you and your kids! Thanks for showing me your chickens and garden. I was thinking about your garden and the empty spots--maybe you could grow some beans there? Making a little bean teepee would be easy using some of the cut branches from the trees out front. Some other possibilities --okra, sunflowers, peppers....

SundayCrepes 05-04-2010 12:26 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by desertgirl01 View Post
Usually the first flowers are male flowers...there's some reason for that but I can't remember. So perhaps your cantaloupe won't have to support too many melons just yet.

SC, it was nice meeting you and your kids! Thanks for showing me your chickens and garden. I was thinking about your garden and the empty spots--maybe you could grow some beans there? Making a little bean teepee would be easy using some of the cut branches from the trees out front. Some other possibilities --okra, sunflowers, peppers....
We enjoyed meeting you as well. I appreciated you looking at my garden. I'm kind of proud of it and like to show it off.

Do you think it's too late to put in an acorn squash?

What type of beans? Is it too late to put in okra? I've never really eaten it. I always heard it was kind of slimey. Do you have any good recipes?

desertgirl01 05-04-2010 05:48 PM

I don't think it's too late to put in anything, as we have such an extended growing season. I'm trying Kentucky Wonder green beans this year, you can try any sort of beans you'd like--green beans, pinto, etc. Native Seed Search has some beans you can eat as fresh green beans or wait a while and have them dry, as pinto beans.

Okra is slimey. It's great in soups, as you won't notice the sliminess and it actually thickens it up. I also chop it up and use it in stir fry, calabicitas, any sort of summer veggie dish. I either don't mind the slime, or don't notice it, although I don't think I could stand to eat cooked okra alone as a side dish. If you do end up growing it, pick the okra when it's only a couple of inches or smaller. It quickly gets tough and stringy!

I forgot to ask, did you plant your garden from seeds, or buy the plants already started? I thought my plants were doing great, but yours are already huge compared to mine. I did start mine from seeds, and I did get a late start. I wasn't worried about it, but then I saw your robust garden!

SundayCrepes 05-04-2010 10:31 PM

I planted from plants around March 22. I decided to plant March 17 so didn't exactly have time to plant from seed. Maybe next year.

One of the things I'm wondering about is how I fed them. Initially I only put in $60 worth of compost stuff. That's all I could afford. The plants didn't look so well so I fed them with some old miracle grow vegetable food I had. Then we learned about the free compost from the community food bank so we added that in. Years ago when I had tomatoes in a place without amended soil I used miracle grow and the change was unbelievable. So I'm wondering if that's part of why my garden is so lush.

I bought an acorn squash to add to the garden then sat on it and crunched all the stems. There is one little leaf bud left. We'll see if it's enough to keep the poor plant alive.

seeing_stars 05-05-2010 09:05 PM

I started some type of pole bean on my teepee 2 weeks age and they are just starting to pop up and get tall. I also added artichoke from plants and they are looking a bit yellow- overwatering? I replanted sunflowers and many of them have popped up. My armenian cucumbers seem really delicate and I've lost about 5 plants to just random shriveling. I'm hoping that they do well!

I'm really trying to get my hands on some cotton gin trash, that stuff makes gardens go CRAZY! I've got my relatives in Thacher on the lookout for some.

desertgirl01 05-13-2010 04:04 PM

My garden is really humming along now. Finally the melons are growing vines and flowering like crazy. All male flowers so far. Same with the squashes. The year I had the most success with squash is when I hand fertilized with a paintbrush. I think I'll try that again as it seems some of the squash is so dense I think pollinators might have a hard time reaching the flowers. Ugh, I really should have thinned out more, but now I'm overwhelmed and don't know where to hack!

What else--have tons of tomatoes, but they are quite green and have alot of growing yet. Anyone else notice that their toms take forever to ripen?

Oh, and one of those gray, bushy-tailed rock squirrels is eating my plants. Unless I put a giant dome around my garden, those things are so agile it would be impossible to keep out of the garden. I'm thinking I'm going to borrow my dad's humane trap again, but 1) I do actually enjoy those little guys in the neighborhood, and; 2) I think it might be breeding season and I'd hate to leave a nest of baby squirrels.

seeing_stars, my armenian cucs are actually looking great and vining and twining like crazy. BUT, this is the first year I've had luck. Usually they do what yours do, get yellowish and then almost immediately shrivel and die. This year I placed an extra emitter in the area, so they get more water--maybe that will help? The artichokes, it could be overwatering, could be too much sun--I always thought they were more fall/winter plants, but I really don't know where I picked up that notion.

Is the cotton gin trash just the stuff left on the fields after the cotton is picked? Sounds liek something I would also love to get ahold of!

SC, maybe it was the miracle grow! I found some organic miracle grow fertilizer in the back of my shed and sprinkled that around 2 weekends ago. And hmm, it's really been in the last week or so that my melons and cucumbers have taken off. I sort of think it's more heat related, but the miracle grow didn't burn the plants so I think I'll use it once a month or so.

seeing_stars 05-13-2010 04:53 PM

cotton gin trash is basically just bits of leaves, small sticks, bits of cotton left over from the ginning process. You find it at the gins just laying on the ground, it is a grayish color and make plants go crazy!

My garden is doing farily well, my zucchini get to be a couple inches long, then yellow on the blossom end and shrivel up, ugh!

This was a couple weeks ago.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v4...rch2010512.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v4...rch2010508.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v4...rch2010510.jpg

This is my garden area for next year, it needs to be fenced and prepared

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v4...rch2010516.jpg

SundayCrepes 05-14-2010 02:56 AM

DG, I didn't know miracle grow had an organic formula. I'll have to check that out.

SS, fun to see your garden. I now understand about the bean teepees.

seeing_stars 05-14-2010 02:40 PM

I think I killed all of my squash and most of my zucchini. The zucchini that I planted closer together as an experiment in saving water were going crazy and shading the squash to the point that the squash was getting powdery mildew and infecting the zucchini plants near the squash. I decided to try to move the squash to another area of the garden then move a couple of the zucchini to give them more space. I figured that the powdery mildew would kill the squash if I didn't move it so I decided to chance it. Most of the plants are looking quite bad, wilted to the ground. I guess if they die I can grow something else in the space. I know for next year to not mess with spacing.

Also, walmart had garden drip systems on clearance for $2.50 so I picked some up I'm hoping that our roommate can get them set up to get more consistent water to my plants without having to hand water twice a day.

SundayCrepes 05-14-2010 02:46 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by seeing_stars View Post
Also, walmart had garden drip systems on clearance for $2.50 so I picked some up I'm hoping that our roommate can get them set up to get more consistent water to my plants without having to hand water twice a day.
What kind of drip system?

I have my garden mulched, my plants are huge with lots of space between them, and I only water once a day after dinner and the dirt's still wet when I come back to water. I highly recommend mulching.

How can I post photos here? I'll show off my garden if you can help me figure out how.

seeing_stars 05-14-2010 03:26 PM

I got this http://www.amazon.com/Raindrip-R557D...861768&sr=1-41 and the veggie watering kit from the same company. I will mulch- are you using straw or something else?

I upload my photos to photobucket then paste the IMG code (should show up under the photo it you hover over it with your mouse)

SundayCrepes 05-14-2010 05:12 PM

I mulch with straw. I put on one bale and it's starting to get thinner, so I'm going to add another bale soon. I bought 2 so don't have to make another trip there.

I'll check out photobucket. I hope it's free.

SundayCrepes 05-14-2010 09:50 PM

Here's a link to photos of my garden. There are 4 photos. My 4.5 year old is in one of them to give you size perspective. The corn was to my shoulders last time I measured. It may be taller now.

http://s1029.photobucket.com/albums/...10-05-14-c.jpg

ETA: I measured my corn. Some is taller than me. I'm 5'7"

seeing_stars 05-15-2010 02:46 AM

wow, it looks great!

seeing_stars 05-19-2010 05:34 PM

Well it looks like at least my zucchini will survive being moved, the squash plants could go wither way, the leaves are withered but the main stems are still green and plump. I set up the drip system and it seems to be working well. I run it for about 30 minutes in the morning then add some more water to my tomatoes in the evening. I think that the drip system will really help with the powdery mildew because the leaves don't get wet in the watering process. The armenian cucumber have taken off and are starting to flower, my cherry tomato plants are growing tall and my celebrity tomato plants have finally started to take off after more than a month of being "stunted". Still not much growth from my bell pepper plants, but they aren't dying so I am going to assume that they'll really take off when the heat rises more.

SundayCrepes 05-19-2010 06:14 PM

My bell pepper plants are still small. Just a bit of growth. I was wondering how yours are.

SundayCrepes 05-28-2010 02:51 AM

We harvested our first tomato today. I would have let it go a bit longer, but the bugs had already eaten a hole in it. I'm getting a cauliflower on one of my plants. We've harvested eggplant. I have several coming up so will have to make eggplant dishes next week. We've harvested a few zucchini. They haven't been very big or very plentiful, though the plant is huge and gorgeous. I've been using them in a yummy tortilla soup recipe. My red peppers still aren't growing much.

seeing_stars 05-28-2010 12:35 PM

I have a handfull of Cherry tomatoes ripen every day and have eaten a few garden fresh zucchini so far, but not much else. I got some more heirloom tomato seelings the other day to add to the pots that my friend gave me the other day. I'm getting some insects munching on leaves, I need to get some neem oil or something this weekend. Also, I'm planning a PVC shade structure to attach shade cloth too, don't want everything to burn up as it gets hotter outside.

SundayCrepes 05-28-2010 01:16 PM

How do you plan on making the shade cover. Years ago we had a great garden in the middle of the desert. We had tall 2x4 sides so we could put up chicken wire to keep out the birds and other wild creatures. We had 2x4 "beams" across the top to keep the sides upright so it was easy to just put shade cloth over it. With my in town garden, I'm not sure how to design a cover. My garden is wide so I need it kind of tall so I can get at the stuff in the middle of the garden.

SundayCrepes 05-28-2010 01:41 PM

Actually, I decided now was a good time to google about a shade structure. I found these:

http://www.ehow.com/how_5871755_use-...de-screen.html

http://arizonagardengirl.wordpress.c...ian-cucumbers/

For raised beds:
http://www.naturalyards.com/about/faq.html#cold_frame

seeing_stars 05-28-2010 02:16 PM

I am going to use 2 inch PVC pipe and joints to make the actual structure. I'll anchor them into 5 gallon buckets so that they'll be moveable (since our garden will be in a different part of the yard next year. I plan to grommet the sides of the shade cloth (I have a professional grommet machine) and then use rope to attach the shade cloth to the PVC structure. I'm going to make it tall enough to walk under. I hope that the investment will be worth it later on in the season when I am feasting on home grown veggies!


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