Eating the World

Desert Gardening Tips from The Herb Lady

Catherine Crowley's DNA includes a green thumb. Her grandparents were farmers in the Garden State before she was born; her parents always had a vegetable garden. Both Mom and Dad were scratch cooks and she fondly reminisces about the "soul" of her grandmother's kitchen.

Catherine moved to Arizona thirty years ago. The potential of year-round gardening inspired her to learn to grow edibles in the desert.

(Get her top tips for gardening in the desert after the jump.)

Crowley began selling her edible cuttings and plants at the Mesa Community Farmers Market ten years ago. Customers with questions about herbs or gardening in the desert were told, "Go ask her, The Herb Lady".

The Herb Lady continues to sell her cuttings and plants at Mesa's Friday market. She happily indulges customer's asking about herbs, healthy cooking, and edible landscaping in the desert. She also offers workshops at The Desert Botanic Garden, Thompson Boyce Arboretum and Mesa Community College.

If your schedule is too busy for a workshop, The Herb Lady makes house calls. You can also glean tips from her blog. (Contact her there.) 

And now, The Herb Lady's top tips for growing in the desert:

It's All in the Timing: Learn the different planting and growing times for our region; pay attention to warm or cool soil conditions for planting

Good Day, Sunshine: Edible plants require a minimum of 4-6 hours of sunlight a day, year round

Go Deep: Allow for watering times that encourage deep root growth; give soil time to dry out
Note: lawn style watering is a no-no as roots stay at the surface

You Say Tomato...: Tomatoes are a top vegetable for gardening; we have two tomato growing seasons. Forget beefsteaks in Arizona: try small salad, pear or cherry.

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Carol Blonder