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Old 03-06-2018, 02:32 PM
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deprogramming services deprogramming services is offline
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Default growing a garden in AZ

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I'm planning on moving to AZ this spring or summer and would like to know if I will be able to grow a good garden there. I've had one in Nebraska most years for the last 30 years. My questions:

I want to live somewhere roughly between Flagstaff and Prescott. Is that area generally good for gardening, and are some areas better than others?

Is water so expensive gardening becomes prohibitive?

I camped out in a back yard in Prescott Valley last fall and the ground was so rocky I couldn't even hammer a stake in. Is that typical of the ground in the area I'm looking at, or is most of the ground tillable?

Is there anything about this area I might want to know?

Thank you for your responses.
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Old 03-06-2018, 03:33 PM
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I live in Mesa, Arizona. I turned my entire backyard into a production garden. I have an orange tree, two apple trees, three pomegranate trees, a peach tree, a lemon tree, plus strawberries, blackberries, grapes, and the usual vegetable gardens.

We have two growing seasons in the Phoenix area. Green leafy vegetables love the winters. The summer crop is limited to whatever can survive the brutal sun.

Water is expensive, but most homes have a drip irrigation system that allows you to program the watering and conserve water. It is not unusual to go six months without a drop of rain.

Fruit trees can be an issue because not all will produce fruit in the Phoenix valley. You need to be selective. Due to the warm winters, you have to watch the "chill hour" ratings for trees. A chill hour is defined as the number of annual hours when the temp drops below 40 degrees. Most fruit trees will grow but will not produce fruit unless they are rated for 500 chill hours or less. There are only two apple trees, Anna and Dorset Golden, that produce apples.

If you plan to move to Prescott or Flagstaff, you will have only one growing season. The soil in Arizona looks bad and is alkaline, but does produce food. I made raised bed gardens for the veggies and garden crops that don't like the soil. You may have more flexibility in the Prescott or Flagstaff areas because you avoid the summer heat and the chill hours are not a problem.

Don't plan to move to Tucson. So many Californians have moved there that it now looks like Los Angeles. They have also piled on their liberal regulations, one of which does not allow you to grow any plant or tree that is not native to Arizona. I know someone who was threatened with prosecution for planting apple and orange trees.

The next time you visit Arizona stop in a local garden center where you plan to live. They will let you know what you can and cannot grow in Arizona. It can vary from one area to another.
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Old 03-06-2018, 05:19 PM
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Agreed. Here in the Prescott-Prescott Valley area that is a good idea. I know of a couple vineyards / wineries over in Cornville that are producing decent wine. Another person I knew over in Chino Valley had a decent sized garden.

Depending on how big your garden is going to be might now be a bad idea to hire someone with a tractor to come in and bust up the soil. Compost / mulch and a drip watering system are important. When we had our house in Glendale we had lemons, oranges, grapefruit, cherries, apples, peaches, grapes and a couple different types of peppers as well as tomatoes. Oh, and some green thing that looked like a skinny zucchini. Forgot what it was called; all that was there when we bought the house. It was a lot of work but we enjoyed it.
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Old 03-07-2018, 09:00 PM
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Can you provide a link to the Tucson prohibitions you mention?
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Old 03-28-2018, 02:11 AM
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Suomi Suomi is offline
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Originally Posted by deprogramming services View Post
I camped out in a back yard in Prescott Valley last fall and the ground was so rocky I couldn't even hammer a stake in. Is that typical of the ground in the area I'm looking at, or is most of the ground tillable?
I've been doing a bit of research on gardening in AZ too and seems a jackhammer might be needed in some areas lol! Not sure if one can post links here but there are some good sites talking of raising subtropical and tropical fruit trees and addressing the alkalinity and salt in soil which can also be a problem in water. I've lived all over the world and haven't found a soil yet I couldn't coax a garden out of.

I suspect that raised beds, as one poster mentioned, might be an easier and quicker way to go. But I read plenty online on some judicious use of a jack hammer in AZ to create 'soil rings' around fruit trees to add nutrients deeper down. If push comes to shove you can always haul in a dump truck load of mixed fill dirt/sand, mix that with organic matter and potting soil and compost up a rich soil for mounds or boxes. I grew root vegetables and potatoes before in a sandy loam not even 10 inches deep where it was hot as Hades, same for corn, zukes, peppers, beans etc and they grew fine. Greens too.

Get some good non gmo seeds rated to your zone and don't let anyone tell you 'you can't grow that'. Don't know how many times I've heard that and have made bumper crop gardens with common sense shading techniques using growth cycles of vegetation that grows faster and can handle full sun to cover the 'wilters' planted underneath. You can always get shade cloth for your delicate greens too. Good luck and have fun in your new home!
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