Gardening in the (Northern) Southwest


Raised Garden Beds In Snow 

When most people hear “Arizona”, they think of saguaro cactus, blistering heat waves, lots and lots of sand, and dry heat. But that only describes the southern half of the state — where only about half of the state’s population lives.

Gardening in Northern Arizona isn’t like gardening anywhere else in the southwest. Here in St. Johns, our winter temperatures average between 0 and -10 degrees Fahrenheit, though we have had temperatures as low as -30 degrees in my lifetime. Our garden season runs from about May 20 to October 5 or so, but in recent memory, I have been able to have tomatoes in the ground as early as April 29 and have been able to harvest as late as October 27, though not in the same year.

You would never hear this when reading a gardening article about gardening in Arizona. Even the University of Arizona’s Master Gardener certification only deals with those conditions found in southern Arizona, so even taking that course does not net useful information for people in the northern half of the state.

Gardening in the ‘Other’ Southwest

Flooded Garden In Northern Arizona

So, what do you do when the conventional regional information for your area does not fit your particular microclimate at all? Well, you join or start a local garden club like I did in 2008, talk to other locals, become involved with local cooperatives, and do research for yourself.

The Gardeners with Altitude organic garden club focuses mainly on raising food for our families, but we have also discussed raising animals, preserving our harvests, companion planting, herbs, and much more. We focus only on gardening and living on the Colorado River Plateau and the White Mountains. We work together to improve the knowledge bank of people gardening and ranching with our unique challenges.

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