Let The Gardening Begin!

rich soil

The growing season in Arizona is slightly different from that of most of the country. There are two main growing seasons in Arizona, and they are shorter than in other climates. The withering summer heat is difficult for many vegetables to deal with, so the seasons go from February to the end of May and from September to the middle of November. This means that right now is the optimal time to start your garden!

Mid-February to early March is the time for soil prep.  Well-prepped soil is an essential part of growing beautiful veggies. This means tilling, hoeing, weeding, and fertilizing.  Planting in raised beds is the most efficient method of growing veggies and it’s easy to do. While breaking up the soil and adding fertilizer, just mound up the turned up soil to about 8-12 inches above the ground. Raised beds allow for better drainage and keep the warmth in the soil. Keeping a compost pile is a frugal and organic way to fertilize your garden.

Compost is so nutrient-rich, it is sometimes referred to as “black gold”. While there are organic fertilizers available commercially, making your own compost is a chemical-free, green-friendly option that allows you to recycle much of your kitchen waste. The type and quantity of the materials used will result in different levels of various nutrients.  Most Arizona soil is deficient in nitrogen, so some good nitrogen containing items to add to compost piles are fresh grass clippings, tea leaves, coffee grinds, hair, and vegetable and fruit leavings. The other essential component for a healthy compost pile is carbon, which the composting microorganisms require for metabolism. Carbon-rich items include dead leaves, dead weeds, sawdust, straw, dead twigs and old hay.  To start your compost pile, layer some of the nitrogen and carbon containing items on top of each other, making sure not to compress the pile, as it needs to breathe. Layer 2-3 inches of topsoil over the whole pile, and mist gently with water. Repeat the layering until the pile is as tall as it wide. Then, just turn the pile once a month and mist occasionally to keep it moist. Voila! Homemade “black gold”!

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