Years ago, after many failed attempts to understand gardening in Tucson I made this little guide for myself, which consists of 3 charts. Please note that I am not saying that this is the "definitive" guide to growing plants in Tucson. Rather, this is an attempt to better understand how to plan out my gardening.
With the first chart I was attempting, on my part, to understand when to plant, how long I could expect plants to take to germinate and grow. First, it lists some "general" planting dates. But more importantly it then lists the optimal soil germination temperature (in parenthesis). Knowing the soil temperature allows the gardener to note the current conditions, rather than relying on a calendar that may not be as accurate.
The next set of numbers underlined in the third column lists the days until you can expect to notice seedlings popping out of the ground. Lastly, the chart tells the amount of time you can expect until you might see a harvest. Plants that are grown over the winter months under less light will take longer to grow.
Contained in the second chart (on the upper right) is a basic guide to NPK ratios of various amendments. All amendments will vary – so I take this with a grain of salt.
Finally, the last chart of this guide (on the lower right) concerns seed viability. Why, you may ask, might this information come in handy? Any gardener wishing to have some hope of self-sufficiency recognizes that a major component to being independent in a time of need is to have control of his seeds. Knowing how many years a gardener can keep seeds in a cool dry place enables the gardener to plan the frequency by which each vegetable variety must be grown.
On a side note - If people would focus less on complaining about big agricultural companies such as Monsanto and more on saving seeds we would not have to worry about the negative side affects that such large companies could create. A gardener who possesses quality water and soil and employs appropriate gardening practices can determine her skill at saving seeds by the quality of the vegetables harvested from her home-saved seeds.