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.
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10 Steps for a Successful Spring Garden in Arizona
1. Get your garden ready for spring
Take time before the spring gardening season begins to get your garden ready.
- Fill beds with compost or raised bed mix to replace the depleted organic matter from the last growing season. Add enough compost or raised bed mix to fill the beds all the way up. (I use the raised bed mix from Arizona Worm Farm.)
- 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.
- Check your watering system. Is it working? Do you need to make any repairs? I use the garden grids from Garden in Minutes to water my raised beds.
- Add raised beds, vertical structures, or large containers to your garden.
2. Decide what you want to plant in your spring garden
Evaluate the space in your garden and decide what you will plant for your spring and summer gardens. Use a reliable planting guide to see which vegetables grow best.
- PLANTING GUIDE: Each month lists vegetables, fruit & herbs to plant outside & seeds to start indoors.
- HARVEST GUIDE: Photos show what may be ready to harvest that month.
- Planting dates are for the low desert of Arizona (zone 9b).
Learn more about how to plan your garden in this post.
3. Start seedlings indoors for your spring garden in Arizona
If sweet potatoes are on your planting list, start making slips for planting in January.
This post explains how to start seeds indoors.
4. Evaluate winter plants
Spend some time evaluating your winter garden. Which plants did well? Which varieties did your family enjoy eating?
5. Harvest winter plants to make room for your spring garden in Arizona
Harvest winter vegetables to begin making space in your garden for spring plantings.
6. Evaluate 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.
7. 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.
Check local weather forecasts to ensure temperatures are consistently in the 40s.
Soil temperature is a reliable indicator of when to plant. Use a soil thermometer to check the temperature. (I use this one from Amazon.)
Preferred soil temperature for seeds and plants:
8. 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.
Cutting back eggplants, peppers, and tomato plants will reinvigorate them.
9. Tidy up garden beds
- Clean garden beds by removing weeds or debris and pulling unwanted volunteers.
- Put small containers away once plants have finished growing. Use only larger containers once temperatures begin to heat up.
- Make needed repairs to raised beds and trellises.
- Replenish mulch in pathways and beds.
10. Begin planting your spring garden
Follow a planting guide and pay attention to spacing requirements.
Harden off indoor-sown transplants before planting by gradually exposing them to longer periods of time outdoors.
Get my best tips for planting transplants in this post.
Learn how to plant seeds outside in this post.
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.