It really is that simple, however in the desert garden it is about understanding the hot and cold of it. Specifically -- if you consider that we can garden year-round but have a couple of optimal planting times you need to think: Snowsuits in July and Swimsuits in December.
So while it seems counterintuitive we start sowing seeds for fall crops in late July (yes it is 105+). Consider, for instance, pumpkins for Halloween or Thanksgiving. You have to count backwards 90-120 days for the best planting time to harvest successfully. During the spring and summer times, gardens are planted densely to maximize soil canopy and minimize evaporation and heat at the root level. The plants need the sun, the roots do not.
Like wise we are thinking about pre-starting our tomato and basil seeds in December for transplanting out in February.
So essentially we are able to take advantage of the cool and warm times of year to grow huge basils (many are 3 feet by 3 feet plus) and harvest root crops and lettuces anywhere from 4 to 7+ months out of the year.
In the desert garden with limited rain fall (about 7 inches annually) and native soil which is primarily clay, grit (sand and pebbles) and a high mineral content, we need to amend the soil to make it "fluffy" for drainage and to give the plant roots 'running shoes' to go as far as they need.
Full Sun or a year-round average of 8+ hours a day is needed for all edible plants. When planted at the optimal time your edible garden does not need shading, with rare exceptions. If it produces an edible fruit, root, shoot, leaf, or seed it needs as much sun as you can give it.
Cool weather gardens include all the cabbage family, lettuces, all the root crops, herbs like dill and cilantro, along with garlic and Irish potatoes.
Warm weather gardens include tomatoes, basil, chives, eggplant, peppers and sweet potatoes.
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