I was up early this morning before the heat of the day set in. It's not easy gardening in this Arizona heat. There are however, certain plants that are loving these long, hot, humid summers days. As long as your plants are getting a good deep watering every few days, (don't drown the roots, they need oxygen to breath), they seem happy to just be left to grow. Straw and extra mulch will help keep soil cool and moist. First on the list, okra. I planted ours from seed in- between the peppers. Once the temps reached 100 degrees this plant went crazy! The pods are very fast-growing and need to be harvested daily when they are 2 to 3 inches long. I love okra. You can throw it in soups and stews as a thickener, or just fry it up in some olive oil with garlic and other summer vegetables. I like mine crispy. Okra can take over and this one is five feet tall. It does shade the peppers nicely though. Which brings me to my next heat loving plant. Peppers.These hearty plants belong to my husband. They are his number one favorite garden crop. He usually buys transplants in every variety that he can find, and hogs all of the garden space! He does however, keep us stocked with delicious salsa for many weeks. He usually plants in the spring (March) and keeps them covered when frosts arrive. Most of the pepper plants make it through the winter months here in Phoenix.
Our varieties include: Sweet Banana, Anaheim, Habanero, Jalapeno, Serrano and Cheyenne.
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds has a great variety to choose from. Next up, herbs. Warm weather herbs easily make our garden green and lush throughout the summer. Many of our herbs are planted in pots to keep them from getting out of control. We enjoy rosemary, thyme, tarragon, oregano, mints, lavender and of course basil loves a spot in full sun.
If you want spectacular color and texture in your garden, plant sunflowers and zinnias. Always a cheery addition, my zinnias re-seed themselves each year and fill in all the empty spaces where nothing else will grow. Lastly, sweet potatoes. Make sure you pick out a large, sunny spot for these vigorous vines. They would do well in a corner of the yard as a ground cover. This is only our second year as potato farmers, so we are excited to see what we will find beneath this mass of vines in a couple of months!