Early fall is a wonderful time in the low deserts of Arizona. Nights are fresh and days are still warm enough to enjoy the outdoors. It is also one of the best times of year to enjoy time in your garden.
It is a great time to start planting cool seasonal flowers and other plants that you will be able to enjoy through the first hard freeze of the winter. Beginning in the end of September and going through February, annuals like calendula, pansies, and poppies take well to the cooling soil. October is also a great time to sow your wildflower seeds so that you can enjoy their adventurous blooms in mid to late March. In both cases, make sure to choose areas of the yard that receive large amounts of sun with well-drained soil. This is particularly important when we get into the colder evening temperatures. Low lying areas with little sun and poor drainage end up killing delicate flowering plants like annuals and thus negates any attempts at a great fall garden.
This is also the best time of year to add perennials to your garden environment. Plants like Autumn Sage, Blackfoot Daisy, and Desert Marigold are all wonderful options and provide year after year flowerings without requiring very much watering or care. The wonderful thing about perennials is that they also attract native insects and other animals like birds, which can turn into an entertaining attraction for you and your family.
If you are into vegetable gardening, the mix of fall plants is probably the most diverse of the year. In soil as acidic as ours, it is always a good idea to use raised beds. If you are trying to grow all organic raised beds this also enables you to control the quality of the soil being used. Some great fall vegetable crops are:
- Brussel sprouts
- Green beans
It is important, before getting into vegetable gardening in the desert, that you are committed to a watering plan. Installing drip irrigation as you build a raised bed is a great way to achieve an easily managed garden system. If you are going to hand water, make sure you have a schedule and that you stick to it.
Most of all, use the gardening time to be outside, enjoy your backyard space, and gain some appreciation for the changes in the seasons.