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How does your garden grow?

Local sources can provide answers to all your gardening questions

Start Your Own Edible Garden: Sponsored by Chandler-Gilbert Community College/Pecos Campus, 480-732-7072

When: Open entry/open exit through August 19; new classes begin each month

Where: Internet 

Cost: $ 119.00

To take this on-line class, complete the “Enroll Now” process at ed2go.com/cgc, then register with CGCC; check the website for specific start dates. Course will guide students in selecting the right crops for the micro-climatic conditions of their yards and preparing a proper garden bed.

To investigate related classes at other Maricopa Community College campuses, check classes.sis.maricopa.edu

desert-botanical-garden-2Join a Club!

The Arizona Federation of Garden Clubs website (azgardenclubs.com) has a listing of all its member clubs and is the place to go to find a garden club near you. Joining a club not only allows you to network with, and learn from the experiences of, other growers, but they often sponsor lectures and garden tours. Club activities permit apartment and condo dwellers, as well as those who are physically unable to keep up a garden on their own, the opportunity to keep involved with this gratifying hobby.

Furthermore, local garden clubs are the main vehicle through which many community projects are realized, such as neighborhood beautification, micro-climate amelioration, and turning unused land into urban gardens for growing fresh produce. Clubs provide valuable services and can be influential change agents with respect to environmental stewardship at the local level.

Garden clubs often partner with institutions like the Master Gardener Program. Master Gardeners are individuals who have received special training through the University of Arizona’s Cooperative Extension. Certified Master Gardener Associates volunteer their expertise and leadership to their communities in various public education efforts: manning plant question phone lines, giving talks and tours, working with schools to instruct children in gardening principles, organizing conferences, and maintaining demonstration gardens that introduce new plants and planting and irrigation techniques. There are four Master Gardener offices in Maricopa County (Phoenix, Sun City West, Mesa and Scottsdale). The Maricopa County Master Gardners have a hotline and also host walk-in “clinics” once a month; contact them at 602-827-8200 (ext. 301). Or, you can e-mail your questions to arid_gardener@cals.arizona.edu. Anyone interested in becoming a Master Gardener should check out extension.arizona.edu/master-gardener

The most basic question for the gardener is … not what would you like to grow, but WHAT CAN YOU GROW?

Successful desert gardening depends on selecting plants that are right for the environment you can provide for them. Make informed choices based on: 

  • Sunlight exposure (hours per day)
  • Soil quality; need for fertilizer and/or mulch
  • Amount of space and capacity to mix with other species
  • Potential pests (diseases/predators) 
  • Weed control and desirability of herbicide use
  • Watering regime and optimal delivery system
  • Equipment needs (for thinning, spraying, etc.)
  • Ability to invest the time required to raise healthy plants 

Based on the University of Arizona’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Cooperative Extension document, “10 Steps to a Successful Vegetable Garden.” See all at cals.arizona.edu/pubs/garden/az1435

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This Article appears on the April 2013 issue of LPM under Fitness

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