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Spring Gardening in Arizona

A crucial element of successful spring gardening in Arizona is transitioning from your winter garden to a spring garden. Transform your cool-loving winter garden beds into a haven for warm-season vegetables with these 10 steps for a successful spring garden in Arizona. 

Spring Gardening in Arizona

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10 Steps for a Successful Spring Garden in Arizona​

Spring Gardening in Arizona

1. Decide what you want to plant in your spring garden

Evaluate the space you have in your garden and decide what you are going to plant for your spring and summer garden. Use a reliable planting guide to see which vegetables grow best. 

Vegetable Planting Guide: A Visual Planting Guide for Low Desert Vegetables

Order seeds (I like ordering from, Baker Creek Seeds, and Botanical Interests) and locate sources for plants you would like to include in your spring garden in Arizona.

2. Start seedlings indoors for your spring garden in Arizona

Sow seeds indoors beginning in late December or early January for tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. In mid-January, sow seeds for basil, zinnias, cucumbers, and melons. If sweet potatoes are on your planting list, start making slips for planting in January as well.

If you plan on purchasing transplants for your spring garden in Arizona, you can skip this step. This post explains how to start seeds indoors

Spring Gardening in Arizona

3. Evaluate winter plants

Spend some time in your garden and evaluate your winter garden. Which plants did well? Which varieties did your family enjoy eating? 

Take note of which varieties did well or not so well this winter in your garden journal. Don’t skip this step. Taking time to document now will make planning your fall and winter garden much easier.

Spring Gardening in Arizona

4. Harvest winter plants to make room for your spring garden in Arizona

Harvest winter vegetables that are ready to harvest to begin making space in your garden for spring plantings. 

Spring Gardening in Arizona

5. Appraise existing plants in the garden

  • Some winter vegetables may be close to harvest and need a bit more time in the garden. Give them a little time. 
  • Other plants may have struggled to produce and you may decide to pull them to make room for spring and summer planting. Remember to cut plants at the base rather than pulling them out to remove them.
  • Some plants like onions, garlic, and perennial herbs will continue to grow throughout the spring.
Spring Gardening in Arizona
Many cool-weather crops bolt and go to seed as temperatures warm in the spring.

6. Look at the weather and check your soil temperature before planting your spring garden in Arizona

In the low desert of Arizona, mid-February is our last typical frost date, but we can be surprised by a late frost. 

In 2019, I planted tomatoes 3 times because I was anxious to plant and then got humbled by late frosts. 

Spring Gardening in Arizona

Soil temperature is a reliable indicator of when to plant. Use a soil thermometer to check temperature. (I  use this one from Amazon.)

Spring Gardening in Arizona

7. Prune overwintered plants

Once the danger of frost is passed, cut back frost-damaged or spindly plants that remain in the garden (peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, basil, etc.). Cutting them back will reinvigorate plants. After pruning top beds with compost and water well. 

Spring Gardening in Arizona

8. Tidy up garden beds

Clean up garden beds. Clean out weeds and debris, and pull unwanted volunteers.

9. Top off garden beds

Filling beds with compost replaces the organic matter that was depleted during the last growing season. Add enough compost to fill the beds back up. If you don’t make your own compost, purchase several different types of compost to add to the beds.

It’s important to have your soil tested.  A soil test can determine the health of your soil. This is the soil test kit I use. It’s very simple to use. Add organic fertilizer based on the recommendations. 

10. Begin planting your spring garden

  • Harden off indoor-sown transplants before planting by gradually exposing them to longer periods of time outdoors.
Spring Gardening in Arizona
  • Plant both seeds and transplants. I add a little bit of this fertilizer in the hole when I  plant my peppers and tomatoes.
Spring Gardening in Arizona
  • In areas where winter crops are still growing, consider interplanting warm-season vegetables. Once the cool-season crops are ready to harvest, warm-season crops will welcome the extra room.
Spring Gardening in Arizona

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Spring Gardening in Arizona
Spring Gardening in Arizona