Home Gardening Tips

Looking to grow your own at-home garden? Chef Kenneth Arneson of Rico’s American Grille at Phoenix’s Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort (the restaurant sources many of its ingredients from the on-site Rico’s garden, pictured) provides a few pointers for perfecting your green thumb.
Make the right bed to lie in: Utilize a semi-raised bed for planting, meaning, above-ground with a soil composition that is 80 percent native dirt and 20 percent compost mix. Mix the soil and compost together thoroughly to give the soil lots of carbon, nitrogen and a good amount of natural air gaps, which helps with drainage and a steady flow of oxygen.
Know when to grow: Here in Arizona we have a great gardening season between October and June. There isn’t a lot that won’t grow during that time period so take advantage of experimenting with different seeds and plants. Just remember, come December and January the ground will be too cold to germinate your seeds.
Use the buddy system: The three sister’s composition, as it is known by area Native Americans, is one of the most effective ways to utilize companion planting which helps plants work together in a harmony that is beneficial for all. A very effective planting trio is corn, squash and beans. The squash provides a natural shade which keeps the warm, Arizona soil moist. The beans give natural nitrogen to the soil, which the corn needs to grow, and the corn provides a stable pole for the beans to grow on which allows them to spread evenly and be more fruitful.
Fertilize first thing: Remember to fertilize early in the morning so as to not burn your plants. Regardless of the “no burn” label many fertilizers boast, the Arizona sun will dictate otherwise. When it comes to fertilizing here, the sooner the better.
Pull plants in prime time: Harvest your crops early in the morning or late at night as plants have a tendency to retract their natural oils and sugars back into the roots as the sun warms up their leaves. If you harvest while all of the sugars and oils are in the stems and leaves, nourishing the plant, you will enjoy the full flavor and nutrients it has to offer.
Save your scraps: When trimming your garden, save the green waste to utilize for future composting. Reintroducing it back into your garden makes the soil rich and full of beneficial nutrients while helping your garden to be sustainable.
Keep cooking simple: The less you can cook your fresh produce, the better. If you follow the rules of tending and harvesting the vegetables you grow will need very little seasoning, if any, and very little cooking time.

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