Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Local Climate

Here in Tucson there are two things you can count on: heat in June and cold in January. Water is also a concern here because of the high mineral content of the tap water and rainfall can be unpredictable. A 50% chance of rain in July means that 50% of the city of Tucson will get rained on while a 50% chance of rain in December means that all of Tucson will receive rain 50% of the time. Some believe that we have more than the four seasons than more moderate climates experience. If that is true, then I would have to say that we have 5 seasons that overlap somewhat: hot, cold, wet, dry, and windy. Because we live in a desert we cannot count on having a pleasant fall or spring. Over the course of a few weeks in “the spring” it can go from the 60s and low 70s to the mid 90s while in “the fall” it may go from 90 and 100 to the low 70s in under a fortnight (2 weeks). Though the dramatic swings in temperature do nothing good for the tomato plant the long stretches of cold and hot favor a long growing season for both cold and hot loving plants.

After the unbearably hot dry summer comes the Monsoon weather

During the long winter spinach, lettuce, carrots, peas, garlic and other greens do very well. Broccoli, cabbage and onions also flourish but need to be started early if growing from seed. The long hot summer benefits crops such as okra, eggplant, Chinese Long (or Asparagus) beans, Black-eyed peas, hyacinth beans, Asian and Armenian cucumbers, sunflowers, corn, watermelons, cantaloupe, peppers, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and zucchini. Oh- and tomatoes- if you can figure out how to save them from destruction. Certain limitations guide my selection in summer crops. My family doesn’t care for okra or eggplant, corn needs big blocks to pollinate well, Squash Vine Borers destroy my zucchini, lace bugs are determined to destroy my sunflowers, while cucumber beetles are always more work then the number of cantaloupes I get from my plants. So that leaves me with beans, watermelon, peppers, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, cucumbers, and – if I plan right – tomatoes. As most gardeners, I try not to look at the calendar as much as the soil temperature when determining what and when to plant.


Snow is a not too common - from February 2011


The kids are excited for snow while my garden is excited for water.


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