What Are Your Best Tips for Gardening in the Southwest?

| 4/6/2010 11:49:49 AM

Red bell pepperIn the gardening world, we often speak of average last frost dates and of crops that enjoy “cool” spring weather. At the mention of such topics, there are sure to be readers in the hot and dry desert southwest that glance out their windows at 90 degree spring days, asking, cool?

While we try to provide region-specific advice when discussing garden crops (for instance, see the great article The Best Tomatoes to Grow Where You Live), some readers in the hottest areas of the country are still sweating over how to find the perfect tips to grow the best garden possible. And you can help.

For those of you familiar with triple-digit temperatures, can you share with our readers your best tips for gardening in the southwest? Please post your advice about what to plant, when to plant and how to plant in the comments section below.


Shelley Stonebrook is MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine’s main gardening editor. She’s passionate about growing healthy, sustainable food and taking care of our environment. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest and .

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons/Alan Cleaver. 

9/7/2015 12:22:12 AM

Haven't seen much here about irrigation, but in a hot desert climate, it is pretty important, especially when water supplies are getting tighter than ever. Whatever you use has to be in excellent condition or you are doing yourself a disservice. I have a few thoughts on this on my own blog: http://sprinklerdoctors.com/?p=120. I will be looking at your site a lot for more ideas.

Jack Veggie
4/26/2010 7:25:31 AM

The biggest hurdle is between your ears. When it is super hot summer time, if it isn't cactus or bermuda grass it doesn't grow. Relax and wait for fall. Disease and bugs hunt down stressed plants and in July in the SW they are all stressed!

Russell Meyers
4/24/2010 11:19:34 PM

Compost, compost, compost, mulch, mulch, mulch! Many people refer to clay soil but desert soil can be clay or all sand. (I have areas of each.) Desert soil is notoriously devoid of organic matter and Nitrogen, while being very alkaline. Compost and mulch help the former, while highly diluted pure ammonia and vinegar can do wonders to correct the latter in the short term. Soil testing is crucial. Large mounds are preferred over thin rows or mounds. A greenhouse is best but short of that, raised beds are great options. Protection from the elements is important in the form of windbreaks and cold covers. Well placed trees can help develop a hospitable environment.

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