Is it time to just daydream about a spring garden, or time to get it going? Well, for most who are knee-deep in snow, a spring garden sounds as likely as finding a unicorn grazing on your lawn.
Here in the Southwest, when days are in the 70s and nights in the 50s, we are contemplating not only the spring garden, but the summer burn.
I'm beginning to look at the half of the yard that isn't going to be watered. In the desert, that sounds like a dilemma but the open desert is right beside the property and there tons of different plants grow freely without any watering or maintenance. Those seeds on the early spring plants are a wellspring of possibilities. Arizona wild grasses are another possibility as the backyard has huge barren dirt areas, but no mowing is planned, so these would be let to grow like in the wild, to float in the wind, and help the wildlife as bunnies are situated in the yard and come and go and birds abound here.
It stands to reason that anything growing in the wild around you can live without caretaking, watering, and fussing. A yard made up mostly of wild grasses, wild bushes, wildflowers, and vines is going to be easy care and as beautiful as nature. In the Southwest, our front yards are almost always gravel with cacti and desert plants, so no-care but pretty. Then, the backyard, it is recommended to do at least half in natural plants that need little or no caretaking. Focusing our water supply on a grouped area of green that forms a microclimate where it protects each other from sunlight with a tall shade tree and clusters so that they create humidity, as well as a very thick layer of mulch to keep the ground from drying out.
Here in the low desert part of Arizona, we can grow all year long, but we have to take great precautions when it gets to 100 degrees, as it stays there for months at a time, with almost no water until a monsoon storm hits and floods everything on the hard-baked ground.
For this reason, mulch is critical and sunshade cloth to keep plants from burning. Another easy remedy is to plant something like mesquite or palo verde trees to offer a dappled light that protects from burn. My veggies I like to plant near the west wall so that they get morning sun, but the afternoon brutal sun doesn't burn them. Even melons and squash that love heat can look a little weepy after a sunset blast. We have 180 degrees of sky, so at no point do trees and hills offer afternoon shade.
I grow veggies and herbs in a planter in the front yard without any complaints from HOA because I make sure to plant shorter crops or sprawling ones like carrots or melons.
Standing movable boxes are used for greens in the backyard on the patio. These are the ones I have and they are fantastic!
Planting right into the ground in various established soil areas, I can do sprawling items like melons, squash, cucumbers. I grow vines up the patio, like luffa and birdhouse gourds so it offers some shade and the patio becomes a green oasis.
Springtime brings with it tons of blossoms here in the Southwest, as we have both wildflowers and poppies, flowering bushes like cassia and sage, and trees that go totally bonkers from fruit trees to palo verde. It can become bee-heaven in a few weeks' time.
I love getting seed mixes of wildflowers native to the area. There are easy to find on places like Amazon -
I am all about wildflowers and sunflowers. I cannot grow enough sunflowers! To me, they are like pets!
While spring planting, I'm considering adding a tree to offer shade from summer sun burn. Something like a mesquite, palo verde, or ironwood offer some good options. As well, I found that moringa and mulberry grow well in this heat.
Adding some fruit trees like fig, lemon, tangerine are some options as well.
It's critical in our desert that we offer a dappled light from a desert-hearty tree to keep plants below from burning out in the midday sun. They also offer another wonderful treat - a place to put birdhouses and feeders, windchimes, and even hanging bird baths, so the tree becomes a sanctuary, as well.
Hey, and if you plant them right, you have a hammock home.
While I'm mulling around my garden plans, I hope y'all are getting an early spring. If not, start planning!