Growing herbs in Arizona, USA
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Thomas Timms
Posted on: November 19, 2004

I live in Arizona, USA, Gold Canyon to be exact. This is about 35 miles east of Phoenix. Our soil is more cliché than anything else. I have been successful growing lavender, basil, dill and roses by amending the soil severely. I would like to create a medicinal and culinary herb garden. One concern is what difficulty level is it to grow valerian, St. Johnswort and feverfew from seed and how long does one need to wait before the herbs can be used? We may have two to three frosts if we are lucky, most of our problems come with the 115 to 120 degree Fahrenheit temperatures in the summer. As far as our rainy season, commonly called our "monsoon" season, we receive anywhere from 0.5" to 6" of rain in an afternoon or evening. This season lasts for only three months, although we do receive rain during the winter months, it is in much smaller doses. Any suggestions on prepping the soil and/or special care would be much appreciated as well.

From what I have seen of soil in Phoenix, it seems to be mostly stony, with some clay. Heavy additions of humus are obviously a must and heavy mulching of the plants is equally important -- all to catch and conserve what moisture you get naturally. Providing light shade would also be a big help. Try some trees of the pea family such as acacias. Try to stick with natives there, since they would not mind the heat. If your soil amendments and mulch make the trees grow too thick a canopy, you can always thin it.

On ther bright side, your herbs will have lots of taste from the ample sun and a little will go a long way. Herbs that tolerate shade or those that need a constantly moist soil might be better left for indoor growing.

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