October Gardening in Phoenix

October 3rd

S+J's visit  -- Desert Botanical Gardens

So, you want to plant a garden but live in the great Sonoran desert. Don’t know where to start and/or don’t want to eat grilled javelina with prickly pear sauce? (You should really give prickly pear another shot. It’s delicious! Skip the javelina. They are in the rodent family.)

June garden harvest

One of the beauties of living in Phoenix is we have four complete growing seasons. With enough shade and water, you can grow year-round on the desert floor. This is so very rare and I’m pretty sure it isn’t included in the tourism material, as it should be. As if growing your own food in a time of mass seed production, corporate food processing monsters and the complete craziness that McDonald’s hamburgers cost less than an organic apple — in Phoenix, it is also easy.

Stay away birdies

I promise you easy peasy gardening that can produce handfuls of basil, buckets of tomatoes, squash, sunflowers, onions, garlic, carrots, rosemary and more. I can promise this because I’ve grown all of these with such a tiny space, it’s miraculous. I live in a shoe box-size home with a giant, oppressive HOA. When the evil money suckers weren’t looking (or apparently responding to my countless letters about changing the landscaping from grass to desert appropriate landscaping), I took over a couple community areas and began renegade gardening. I put seeds and tiny plants in the ground, covered them with compost and coffee grounds, watered with care and quickly began harvesting.

2-7-09: Front Veggie Garden Planted

2-7-09: Front Veggie Garden Planted

2-7-09: Front Veggie Garden Planted

2-7-09: Front Veggie Garden Planted

Tomato hedge to be teepeed

The tomatoes go wild

The tomatoes go wild

Thankfully, I keep my neighbors happy with handfuls of tomatoes, sprigs of fresh herbs and lemon pies and cookies when the lone tree is in season.

If you are interested in:

These classes typically cost $10. The networking, however, is priceless. You’ll meet other folk who are interested in the same things, having the same struggles and have found solutions. You’ll end up swapping seeds and compost, sharing loaves of homegrown zucchini turned bread, and finding a community of people in Phoenix who are so incredibly kind and well intentioned. I am really thankful to be a part of this ever-growing circle of like-minded friends.

Homemade pesto

Homemade pesto

Homemade pesto

Homemade pesto

Homemade pesto

Also, you don’t need Birkenstocks or a car that runs on used french fry oil to participate. There are people of all walks of life who love to garden. You must only have a willingness to learn and share.

As for what you need to garden — Starbucks free coffee grounds, a shoe box (or other container), water and seeds. I recommend this seed source. They are Tucson-based and a cooperative of dedicated gardeners. I also recommend planting heirloom seeds, taking the PPG seeds saving course and not giving a dime to the corporate seed companies that are genetically modifying nature. (Fuckers.)



Beets starry!

Pretty pommies

To be fried!

What to plant?

From October 1-15:

  • Globe artichoke
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Green snap peas
  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Collards
  • Corn
  • Dill
  • Endive
  • Fennel
  • Garlic
  • Kale
  • Leek
  • Lettuce
  • Melon
  • Mustard greens
  • Okra
  • Onion
  • Oregano
  • Parsnhip
  • peas
  • Peppers
  • Radish
  • Sage
  • Spinach
  • Squash
  • Swiss chard
  • Turnip

Shoot me an email if I can help encourage you in any way to get going. Remember kindergarden when you planted the bean and grew a little plant? It’s still that easy. It’s also a great way to show an appreciation for desert living. Growing your own garden is one of the most spritually fulfilling things I’ve ever done.


{Also, shame on you Congress. SHAME! For the subsidies that make corn prolific and the family farm rare.}

Posted in
Arizona, Earth Mama, Flora and Fauna
Follow the comments.

10 Responses

  1. Kelli,

    LOVE the post, would love to know more about the gardening in small spaces thing, I’ve been thinking about what to do with the front yard space and really want to do my own urban gardening project.

    Hit me up with any info you think would help me. Thanks! 🙂

    – Apps

  2. Great post! Had to chuckle about the “fuckers” haha! Just finished my book club book and have that Farm City book you recommended from the library to read next!

  3. Alright, alright! You have inspired me to look up fall gardening tips for Missouri. I’m thinking peas and lettuce? And I need to go root around and find some seeds from the amazing volunteer tomato plant that came up this year.

  4. Javelina aren’t actually in the rodent family. They’re a peccary. And we eat it a lot at our house! It’s delicious as chorizo and amazing in a queso dip. Just sayin’…

  5. Hmmmm….Javelina Bacon…..gurglegurgle.

  6. Yay for you, my desert gardening counterpart! I love to see what you’re coaxing out of the sun scorched sand in Phoenix.

    And getting all these other folks into the mix? Makes me all proud and sh*t.


  7. From the 1st to the 15th is that from seed only? thanks for your encouraging post..:)

  8. Couldn’t agree more – October is my favorite planting season. All the best stuff, kale, snow peas, broccoli, beets, carrots (I planted a colored assortment this year!), more lettuce than you can shake a stick at. Also decent-ish weather – always a plus! My biggest problem is having to pull out the other stuff that’s still doing well (ahem, eggplant) to make room for the new. It’s always sad to me, but otherwise I won’t get any of that other stuff!

  9. Great post. We just finished constructing our garden and will begin planting on Wednesday. And we were just discussing where to get seeds. Thanks for the link.

  10. I love tra-la-la-ing through your lovely blog; smiling to myself while daydreaming about the awesome garden my aunt and I are planning and then seeing the word FUCKER. It made me laugh out loud. For the reals.