One of the best things I learned when gardening in Tucson is to plant in spring for the hottest days of the summer and to plant in the fall for the coldest days of the winter. As the temperature here rarely goes below 20°F then it is pretty safe to plant brassicas, lettuce and many other greens, onions, peas and some other kinds of beans, beets, chard and cilantro.
|A view of my children's winter garden|
|Digging a trench for composting in my summer garden.|
Growing year-round with two separate gardens always presents the problem of competition for space and light. My summer garden often comes into my winter garden, though I have never had the opposite concern.
|With the summer garden put to rest, the winter garden has light|
|Jerico Lettuce (which I begrudgingly share with the caterpillars)|
|Monstrux De Viroflay Spinach|
I tend to plant my winter garden very intensively and pull plants as they need the space. Though all plants need light, many of my greens can survive on minimal light until I recognize that they need to be thinned. Conversely, I tend to space my summer plants much wider as each plant requires much more space and any plant that gets crowded out will likely end up being a disease and pest liability, as well as a waste of time and effort to plant.
|Small Black/Purple Carrots|
Some of the plants I am growing this winter include Jerico Lettuce (which I plan to save seed from the plants that bolt last), purple/black Turkish carrots, Kyoto red carrots, Spanish black radishes, some small Texas multiplying onions, Viroflay spinach, snap peas, Tavor Artichokes, a lone Celebrity tomato plant and McGregor’s Favorite beets.
|McGregor's Favorite Beets|
If you want a minimal maintenance garden in the Southwest then Winter is the prime season to do it. When the weather consistently goes above 75°F then I have to water more than once a week. But if not, then I can usually get away with watering once every 10-12 days. With many of the pests and disease vectors wiped out by the first light frost there is little maintenance required for the winter garden. Truly, the Tucson winter garden is a delightful way to grow and enjoy winter salads, greens, and roots to well into the spring.
|Some tasty Snap Peas|