Summer garden

Arcadia resident and certified master gardener Kristi Belk knows a thing or two about gardening in the hot and arid climate of the Southwest. As a third-generation Arizonan, her family has been gardening here for years. She has put that experience into educating Phoenix gardeners on when and what to plant during the summer and fall months.

Belk explained that summer is usually the perfect time to plan for the next season and tend to annual chores.

“Plants are their most stressed in August,” Belk said, “so veggies have to be cultivated during the optimal season. Last month, around August 15, was the ideal time to start seeds for crops such as beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, sweet corn and lettuce for the fall growing season.”

While Phoenix doesn’t experience freezing nights as often as other regions, the Valley of the Sun will see a few, which these veggies can tolerate.

“As for colorful yard flowers, any varieties that are currently for sale at nurseries can survive here in pots and will help give your landscape pops of color,” Belk said. “Then, in October, you will want to look for gorgeous autumn annuals like geraniums, petunias and pansies.”

She cautions, though, that these flowers must have water and adequate shade every day.

“Late spring and fall are the times when plants flourish here. But no matter the month of the year, water and shade are the keys to successful Arizona gardening,” Belk said. 

Belk explained that summer days are an excellent time to fertilize and focus on indoor plants. While they’re not negatively affected by the intense outside temperatures, they still require attention.

Amending the soil (adding in nutrients) with compost and prepping the autumn beds are must-dos for the fall and a way to still feel active in the garden.

“Because shade and water are the most important parts of planting, I encourage people to visit a local nursery,  because they know what grows best here, and they’re the go-to resource for knowing the right plant for the right location,” Belk said.

She also encourages both novice and seasoned gardeners to check out the wealth of resources at the Maricopa County Cooperative Extension. For other tips and tricks, check out Belk’s Instagram page

@shefollowsflowers.