Now that it’s cooling in the Southwest – time to grow vegetables. Tried before? Try again!!! You can do this! And if you are a “gig” worker like I am – and Covid is hitting the wallet – one way to stretch your food dollars is through growing the right vegetables at the right time.
New to Vegetables?
Please see my article “Vegetable Gardening Basics” (here). It will be under the “Zones & More” in the website menu once I get that figured out (garden geek, not techie).
Three Rules for Growing Vegetables
I’m going to give three simple Vegetable Garden rules, and then we will get down to the details of what to grow in the cool season ahead of us.
Grow what you like. Most Americans eat only a single serving of vegetables per day. This is despite the fact that most of the teeth in our mouth, and the longest stretch of our digestive system, are designed to deal with vegetative matter. Grow what you like best to eat, since home grown tastes better than store bought, you may expand to two or even more servings per day!
K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Silly! Start small. You were undoubtedly envisioning a huge bed with rows of carrots and cabbages. You could do that, but why bother? Get some big plant pots, put them where they will get at least six hours of direct sunlight each day, then fill them with potting soil. The potting soil is the most expensive part of the operation, but good soil grows good plants.
Keep the tiny little babies moist while they get established. Seeds and seedlings may need twice a day moisture in summer until they are big enough and have enough roots to drink only once a day. A good potting soil helps keep them moist.
One, two, three. It really is that simple. Now here is what to grow NOW.
Cool Season Vegetables
Now is the time to plant the cool season – fall/winter – garden. The cool season garden includes things that can stand frost (due sometime in October), or will be ready before that date. This means it’s too late for tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, melons, and pumpkins.
Fall plants that survive frost include mostly leafy and root crop vegetables. The ones on this list are fairly easy to grow and need little space – so large decorative pots will do.
Cool Season Veggies
Arugula (also called roquette, Italian lettuce), beets, bok choy (Chinese cabbage), broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chives, collard greens, endive, garlic, horseradish, I’itoi onions, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce (head and leaf types), mesclun mix, mizuma, mustard greens, onion (seed ok too), pak choy (another kind of Chinese cabbage), parsnip, potato, radish, raduccio, scallion (green onions), shallots, spinach, Swiss chard, and turnip. Last on the list is one that you don’t grow for the roots or leaves – peas.
Grow what you like. Keep it small and simple. Make sure you water as needed. As easy as 1-2-3. Happy veggie gardening!
Learn More about Southwest Gardening
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More vegetable gardening in this book Southwest Fruit and Vegetable Gardening,written for Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico (Cool Springs Press)
This link is to Amazon and if you buy the book there the Horticulture Therapy non-profit Tierra del Sol Institute will get a few pennies – at no extra cost to you.
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