1. Improve your soil, if it needs it. Marjory Wildcraft of Grow Your Own Groceries, says that conditioning your soil is one of the first thing any gardener should do. Keep in mind that soil composition can change over time and should be re-evaluated every so often.
Our garden was growing tomatoes non-stop, even throughout the winter, when suddenly everything pretty much died. We learned, later, that our soil had accumulated too much nitrogen and had to back up several steps to make some adjustments. You might need to:
- Have your soil tested by your local extension office
- Mix compost in with the soil you now have
- Add amendments, per instructions from extension office or local growers
2. Push your composting into high gear! Make sure everyone in the family knows what can and cannot be added to compost and place “compost catchers” near the kitchen sink and anywhere else food is prepared.
Get the kids busy shredding newspaper and old mail (remove plastic windows in envelopes before shredding). Visit a nearby coffee house and ask for their old coffee grinds. Ask neighbors for grass clippings, piles of old leaves, and vegetable peelings.
3. If you’re not sure what to plant and when, visit a farmer’s market and talk to the pros or search on the internet for local gardening blogs.
Out of curiosity, I did a search for “Phoenix garden blog” and came up with 28,900,000 results. OK, most of those won’t have the information I’m looking for, but the way I figure it is that if someone cares enough to write about their gardening efforts, they probably have some pretty good information and tips to share!
Local nurseries (probably not the big box store nurseries) will likely have good advice about what grows best in your climate. Remember that many of us live in micro-climates, which affects what we can grow and when it should be planted and harvested.