The reasons behind ours...
All of this weekends posts will pertain to the choices I made for the homestead including grow guides for the particular vegetables and fruits and for the animals I have and am thinking about adding.
I began this journey mostly out of necessity. My job had been sent overseas, I lost my apartment, money was very tight and I couldn't find employment with similar pay. Tucson's economy had just been rated as one of the 5 worst in the country and the 3rd most mis-managed city. So I needed a way to feed myself and I began growing vegetables. I'd had gardens most of my life and wasn't worried about my ability to grow food.
I found part time work through a friend and that's how I began renting here on 3.5 acres. Then that job dried up. Sales at an import store with $5,000-20,000 carpets and furniture wasn't and isn't in high demand when unemployment is running rampant and companies are downsizing like crazy and our housing market bursts.
I started the first garden, which failed epically due to hungry critters that were a bit more tenacious than I gave them credit for. Having grown gardens organically since my very first garden, I knew that I would not use pesticides or outside inputs. There is a gross lack of soil fertility here and we have caliche 3 to 4 inches below the surface. Large rocks were the only thing growing in this properties soil. Just like my environmental reasons behind parking my car four years ago, I knew that I did not want, nor could I afford a tractor to till the soil. The size of the garden I am renting does not warrant heavy equipment. That led me to my best and only option- raised beds and containers.
New raised beds and flora selection:
After last years fiasco, I am rebuilding the raised beds and including hardware cloth on the bottom as well as the top to keep critters out. Since this area is very arid and being environmentally minded and well aware of being in a 15 year drought, I decided not to plant anything ornamental except marigolds which will help with pest control in the beds and be fed to the chickens. I am also skipping mellons in the garden due to their water consumption.
I am in USDA Zone 9b but have some unique opportunities. The house and property sits about 17' below street grade and is situated between two washes. For those not familiar with washes, they are basically dry creek beds that carry our heavy seasonal rains or monsoon to rivers. During our monsoons these washes fill quickly and run very fast. Due to the proximity to the washes and Santa Cruz River, we have a thermal break on the property and it is between 8 and 10 degrees cooler than it is at the road. That sounds like a huge difference, but the difference between 98 and 106 doesn't feel like much to the skin. lol
So what am I planting? A mixture of things I personally enjoy and things that bring a decent market price. These crops also have to be heat and drought tolerant.
Sugar Ann Snap Peas, Oregon Sugar Pod Pea, Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans, Roquette Arugula, Tall Utah Celery, Bloomsdale Spinach, Lettuce (Mesclun Mix and Parris Island Cos), Red Russian Kale, Swiss Chard, Clemson Spineless Okra, Dark Star Zucchini, Yellow Crookneck Squash, Jerusalem Artichokes, Florence Fennel, Texas Sweet Onions, Garlic (Elephant and Spanish Roja), Katahdin Potatoes, Marketer Cucumbers, Purple Top White Globe Turnip, Early White Tipped Radish, Bodacious Sweet Corn and Cayenne Pepper.
Dill Bouquet, Cilantro, Italian Rosemary, Basil (Genovese and Cinnamon) and Chocolate Mint.
Tomatoes (Roma, Brandywine, Mortgage Lifter, Beefsteak, San Marzano, Homestead and Trip L Italian Tomato Tree), Purple and Red Passion Fruit, Dwarf Cavendish Bananas, Desert King Figs, Angel Red Pomegranate and Cinnamon Spice Apples.
White Sonora Wheat, White Mountain Apache Sorghum, Amaranth (Hopi Red Dye and Juana's), Oats and Buckwheat.
Concord and Thomcord
Boysenberry, Phoenix Tear Goji Berry and Jubilee Blueberries.
Sunflowers (Mammoth Russian and Lemon Queen) and Arabica Coffee Beans.