A lot of people have asked me lately, “Is it time to plant?” and “What should I plant right now?”
Here in Arizona, we are coming out of the dregs of summer. If you were dedicated, you may still have some plants in your garden that are thriving: peppers, chiles, eggplant, okra, and melons or squash. The rest of you have a bunch of dried up sticks. But never fear! It’s time to bust out the shovels and rakes once again! It’s time to plant all the things!
What do I plant?:
-leafy greens: including lettuce, kale, spinach, swiss chard, celery, mustard, bok choy, arugula, parsley, cilantro (all of these grow GREAT in pots too, so if you are one of those people with no actual “garden” then plant these (seeds are fine) and stick them in full sun.) You don’t need to cut the head either, you just pull the leaves off the plant and it keeps making more! Neverending salad! Also, swiss chard is an amazing one to have because not only is it a good looking plant, but you can eat the leaves in a salad or saute them with butter and garlic. I find the leaves to have a nice umami flavor-it’s a bit salty.
-broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower: And if you usually don’t like these, it’s probably because you’ve never had it fresh. These particular vegetables get really bitter when old. So give it a go.
-root vegetables: carrots (rainbow variety is fun!), parsnips, radishes, turnips, BEETS!!!!
-snowpeas and peas
-onions, leeks, garlic
How do I plant them?:
You need to ask yourself some questions:
-Where do I have FULL SUN? This means sun all of the day? None of this shady area of the yard nonsense or morning sun stuff-winter vegetables need ALL OF THE SUN.
-In this sunny area, will a garden bed fit or am I going with pots?
-How much money do I have? Starting from seeds is the cheapest way to go. But, you get the most production from plants starts. (Also, in order to get Brussel sprout production, you need to start with starter plants. Trust me, the season just isn’t long enough in Phoenix for the plant to develop sprouts. Garden beds can be as expensive and elaborate or as basic and cheap as you want. You will need to and compost and soil amendments to your soil. And a can of earthworms doesn’t hurt either. You can get your soil tested to be super scientific if you are into that, but I’m really lazy, so I would just dig up that part of the yard and add in as many bags of compost that you can afford.
-Drip system or hose watering?
Once you figure out what and where, it’s how:
Next, is the actual shoving seeds into the ground part. This sounds easy, but it actually takes a long time. It’s super fidgety. Go get yourself some wooden shims or stakes and a sharpie too so you can label all the things.
-Open your packets with scissors. (organic seeds are way awesomer, so buy them from a nursery or the internets) Tearing the packets open gets seeds caught in them.
-You pretty much follow the planting instructions on the packet. (But the general rule is the tinier the seed, the closest to the top of the soil it goes.) Almost every seed will sprout, but not always. You plant and bunch of seeds, you wait and wait until you think nothing is ever going to happen, then they all start coming up and you have to “thin” them. This means, you have to rip out a whole bunch of sprouts so as they grow into plants, they don’t crowd each other out. Expect this especially with carrots. Those stupid seeds are so tiny, and if you don’t accidentally spill half of them, you’ll lose your mind at another point and simply start sprinkling them down anyway.
-Water water water. Seeds in the ground=watering three to four times a day. You have to keep the soil moist until the seeds sprout and the roots develop. Once that happens (they look like little plants, then you can back off on the watering.
From here, it’s a matter of thinning and weeding. Any questions?