Gardening in the Arizona Desert

Growing up in arid Arizona, I have always shied away from having a garden. On top of the dry, hot desert climate, Arizona also has very rocky, hard clay which is not very easy to work with. When we entered quarantine in March 2020, I decided that it was now or never to start the garden I’d always wanted. It was the perfect time of year and we were home with little else to do but work on the house.

Setting up the Garden

When my husband and I started researching our options to have a garden, we decided on using either a raised bed system or pots. After redoing our pavers, we realized that we had a perfect space where we could put a row of pots as well as run a drip line to each one! We also already had our Rosemary plant in a pot which it had thrived in for the past 5 years. I started collecting various pots prior to entering quarantine so all we had to do was plant and run the drip line. My husband also found recycled rubber mulch strips that we put beneath the pots so that water wouldn’t pool and for aesthetics to hide all of the drip lines. We used adjustable drip emitters with attached stakes in the pots so that we could adjust the amount of water for each type of plant.

After we established the way we were going to set up the garden, we had to figure out what we were going to plant. I wanted to have vegetables and herbs that I use regularly so that I could reap the full benefits of the garden, and of course they had to be Arizona gardening friendly. We started with Mad Hatter Peppers, Basil, Cilantro, Cherry Tomatoes, Parsley, Oregano, and of course, my trusty Rosemary.

The very beginning of the Newfound Kitchen garden in March 2020.

Garden Production

Most of the herbs were immediately fruitful and I used them in many recipes from homemade salsa, to spaghetti sauce, to pesto, to all kinds of rubs and marinades. I had to watch the herbs daily because it’s important to harvest them before flowers bloom. I was harvesting the Cilantro and Oregano almost daily throughout April and May!

The tomatoes only took a couple weeks and we had a fairly consistent supply which my family pretty much ate right off the vine. The Mad Hatter Peppers took a few months to produce, but when they did, they didn’t stop! I had to pickle our bounty so they wouldn’t go bad.

Shrimp Ceviche

Spaghetti Sauce
Rosemary Salt

Pickled Mad Hatters
Deli Dressing

Arizona Gardening, Round Two

As the temperature warmed up, the Cilantro and Parsley were not doing well. I harvested what I could from the plants and then dug them out of their pots. We replaced the Cilantro with Serrano Peppers and the Parsley with Spearmint. Both are doing fairly well, though the Serrano Peppers have not yet produced.

We also found that we had to cut back a few of the plants quite a bit when the extreme heat hit. Arizona in July and August 2020 saw record heat with highs being above 110 degrees for more than 30 days in a row (so hot)! Everything is now looking a bit yellow but I have high hopes for the months going into fall. As you can see in the photo below, they’ve definitely grown, and this is after I cut them back!

The Newfound Kitchen Garden in August 2020 in 115 degree heat.

Stay tuned for round three of our Arizona Garden!

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