Fall Gardening in Arizona

When it comes to gardening, Arizona is special. If you're ready to take some extra steps to augment your soil, install watering systems, and protect your hard work from predators, gardening in Arizona is extremely rewarding.

Photos: Val Davidson/TSM
Photos: Val Davidson/TSM

According to Jan Groth of the Cochise County Master Gardeners at the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension:

The best gardening season is about to begin.  While we are fortunate in our High Desert that we can garden 12 months a year here,  our very best planting season is the Fall!

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Reasons Fall in Arizona is a Great Time to Garden:

  1. The air is beginning to cool and new plantings will require less water continually to get them started.
  1. New fall plantings lose less water through their leaves in the cooler temperatures, and any winter rains will further hydrate their roots.
  1. The soil is still warm from the summer months and the necessary microorganisms that make up healthy soil and contribute to plant growth are still active.
  1. Fall plantings can use their energies in the warm soil to become established.
  1. Even as the autumn soils begin to cool, the developing roots from fall plantings are still using stored nutrients to grow.
  1. Fall plantings do not have to cope with the long duration of heat, winds, and drought. They will also suffer less transplant shock.
  1. When spring arrives, the fall plantings will have developed larger roots which can better keep up with both the water and nutrient needs of active spring growth.
  1. New fall plantings can be slowly hardened off or “sun-tanned” to the less intense sunshine of fall.
Photos: Val Davidson/TSM
Photos: Val Davidson/TSM
  1. Autumn plantings have to deal with fewer pests and less disease than in the hotter months.
  1. Plants for sale are generally larger in the fall.
  1. Plants are often reduced for sale at nurseries.
  1. And the most fun reason for fall gardening? It’s fun and refreshing to be outdoors.  Always remember that gardening is one of the healthiest activities for physical and mental health!

Fall Gardening Tips

  • Water Less Often: You can begin to DECREASE the FREQUENCY of watering as the temps begin to cool, but DO NOT CHANGE THE AMOUNT or QUANTITY of water  … always water thoroughly when you do water.
  • Update & Maintain Irrigation Systems: It's easier to work on this when the weather is cooler.
Photos: Val Davidson/TSM
Photos: Val Davidson/TSM
  • Fertilize: But do it before the first week of October. You want to stop fertilizing 6 weeks before the first possible freeze, as you do not want to push new, tender growth that can be freeze-damaged.
  • What to Plant: Plant cool season edibles such as lettuces, spinach, arugula, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, beets, carrots, bok choy, radishes, turnips, parsnips, white potatoes, (not sweet potatoes … they are warm season), leeks, garlic, onions, garlic, and shallots.
  • Plant Herbs: Be sure to plant some evergreen herbs, like oregano, marjoram, parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme varieties.

Want to learn more? Put this on your calendar:

Cochise County Master Gardeners are having their Fall Plant Sale on Saturday, September 30 at the University of Arizona - Sierra Vista campus, 1140 N Colombo Avenue.

What to Expect: An educational Pre-Sale Plant Talk will happen from 8:30 am to 10:00 am in the Public Meeting Room inside Groth Hall.

Photos: Val Davidson/TSM
Photos: Val Davidson/TSM

Then head over to the Plant Sale beginning at 10:00 am to 2:00 pm on the front north patio of Groth Hall.  For more information, call 520-559-7078 or visit the CCMGA Facebook page.

Special thanks to Jan Groth of The Cochise County Master Gardners, guest writer on this post. Portions of this post have been edited for length.

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