Old Dog Learning New Tricks

For the first time in over 30 years I have a vegetable garden. Learning to grow vegetables in Southern Arizona is both fun and challenging. My previous experience with growing veggies was in Idaho (the place where they grow all the potatoes). Frankly growing veggies there was fairly easy and didn’t require a lot of effort. I’m finding that growing them in Southern AZ is a bit more of a challenge.

I had set aside an area on the east side of my house for the garden. This area gets good light for most of the day but is protected from the afternoon sun. The soil in that area is compacted red clay that I believed would require major efforts to produce a growing medium conducive to growing veggies. So, I decided to use raised beds for my garden. I purchased several galvanized steel stock tanks to use for the raised beds. These tanks are very durable and about 2′ deeps, so they hold plenty of soil. This is also a nice comfortable working height requiring much less bending and stooping when working in the garden. After positioning the tanks, I drilled drainage holes in the bottom and filled them with a soil mix of 50% topsoil, 40% compost and 10% sand.

I extended an existing waterline into this area and installed a hose bib to use for hand watering. I also installed an automatic irrigation system with a controller and vales dedicated to just watering the veggie tanks. This gives me the ability to independently program and adjust the irrigation for each tank as needed. The individual plants are watered using a combination of in line drip emitters and adjustable micro bubblers.

I am now beginning to learn the what, how and when of growing veggies in Southern AZ. For the first time in a long time this old dog is trying to learn a whole new set of gardening tricks.

Happy gardening from Chris Niccum!

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