Starting a garden in Tucson is not an easy proposition. The ground is hard-baked from the sun, loaded with rocks and roots, and wholly nutrient deficient.
Instead of dealing with this reality in the spring and summer we used pots in the greenhouse and created one raised bed into which we added soil and compost. I wrote many blog posts about the ups and downs of our first gardening experience. I will be forever grateful to Audrey 2 for providing us with big, healthy, delicious zucchini. It was our first bonafide success.
One thing we decided to do for the fall planting season was create a larger in-ground garden, so we are dealing with the challenges of preparing a plot for the first time. After a season of trial and error, we found a wonderful nursery (Mesquite Nursery in Tucson) that has everything we need for our garden as well as helpful master desert gardeners. We left the other day with packets of seeds, potting soil (for the seedlings in the greenhouse), bags of soil and soil conditioner and lots of good advice. And let’s not forget this:
Low tech but great info. We were relieved to learn that we have about two weeks before we put any seeds directly into the garden. This is good news because it will likely take us every bit of those two weeks to turn this:
into an appropriate place to plant seeds. And I use the word “we” very liberally here because loosening the soil with “our” tiller (taking a rest in the heat) and the subsequent digging down into this 25 x 7′ plot became David’s job very quickly. After gamely hanging in with him in the 100 degree heat, shoveling away loosened dirt and picking out stones, I got the vapors and had to retire. He hung in there, loosening the dirt:
Digging up the tree roots:
And yanking them out:
Oh man. This is some job. The goal is to dig down about eighteen inches and then add the soil and soil conditioner that we bought. The good news is that this phase only happens once. Eventually, David also got the vapors and we both jumped in the pool. Heaven.
Since I am pretty useless with the heavy lifting, my job is to start the seeds in the greenhouse. Hard not to get excited about these:
These are the varieties that we can start in the greenhouse. The root vegetables like carrots, onions, radishes and beets need to go directly in the garden. It makes sense that you wouldn’t want to transplant those! Our handy cheat sheet also tells us about the time from sowing to harvest:
Who knew that it would take more than 100 days for celery to be ready to harvest?! I think not. Bring on the carrots and bok choy! We also learned about sequencing the planting, especially with the root vegetables. Each time you pull a root vegetable, it’s gone, done. The other vegetable plants continue to provide even after cutting off leaves (lettuces) or fruit (broccoli). In order to keep a steady flow of root vegetables you have to keep sowing new seeds after the initial planting. So we’ll plan for all of that.
I’m very excited about our garden and I’m sure I’ll continue my role as garden archivist in order to bring all the updates to the blogosphere.
And one last shout out to my ridiculously can-do husband for contributing all the grit and muscle. Love you honey.