The growing season is virtually all year long thanks to the mild winters of Arizona, and similarly to your landscaping and lawn care needs in this desertous climate, fall is a great time to have your garden flourish. Residents in The Grand Canyon State have the luxury to grow a wide variety of native plants, vegetables, and more importantly, fruits all year long. Check out these fall fruits for your Arizona garden that will be ready to enjoy this season.
Known for their sweet fruit that is described as a cross between bubblegum and watermelon, the prickly pear is a unique species that can be found all around the state. The fruit is grown on the Prickly Pear Cactus that offers beautiful blooms in the spring that turn into this interesting fruit in the summer. You’ll know the fruit is ready to pick when the spines fall off and the fruit turns from a solid green color to either red or yellow. There are many uses for prickly pears but the most common one is to boil down the fruit into a syrup that can be used for many other dishes. The Prickly Pear Cactus is a natural choice for many Arizona gardens as it requires little water and enjoys the hottest part of the garden as well.
Many residents have tried dried dates but don’t realize what they are missing in a fresh juicy date plucked right of the tree. Dates are one of the sweetest fruits in the world and have a caramel taste. Dates grow on date palm trees that do well in the dry desert climate of Arizona. The normal time to harvest dates are in the fall months of October and November but many of the palm trees can be accessed for easy harvest all the way through March. You’ll know that your date is ready to picking when it is a little bit wrinkled but still plump and soft inside. Use dates by themselves for a sweet snack as well as plenty of baking recipes. They are also great to add to salads or roasted meats.
Known as one the oldest fruits, fig trees are great for providing shade as well as sweet fruit to any garden. The trees will grow quickly and can reach up to 30 feet tall and wide. The figs themselves will appear as green bulbs and then will ripen into dark sweet fruit from June through October. Many residents probably have tasted a dried fig because fresh figs don’t last more than a few days after harvesting. Enjoy the fresh figs while you can and then dry the rest that you can’t immediately eat.
Hot Arizona summers are the perfect way to grow to key limes that will be ready to harvest in the fall. Key lime trees offer small limes that are about the size of a golf ball. They don’t have too many seeds are have a thinner skin than other lime varieties. Immature green key limes are also often harvested from the tree and then ripen to a yellow color, allowing them to be much less acidic. Using key limes in your dishes is great if you like the tart flavor of lime as well as having an abundance of lime juice at your desire. Harvest the fruit in October or November for the perfect addition to your fall table in color addition as well as flavor.
Growing fruit in your garden is a great way to add a variety of flavor and color to your table. Enjoy the benefits of being able to grow fruit well into fall by adding a pear and key lime tree to your garden. Include different kinds of fruit, like dates and figs, to explore other delicious and exotic flavors. Use the hot Arizona climate to your benefit while growing fruit year-round. Consider all of these fall fruits for your garden this season.
–Nannette Walker is a gardening and design writer for WikiLawn, and has a true passion for growing her own food.