February’s Gardening Q & A with a Local: meet Julie

Whether you're a seasoned gardener or still just testing the waters (or soils, as it were), you've probably discovered that gardeners & their approach to cultivation are as wonderfully diverse as the plants they tend and indeed, the folks themselves. What freedom and adventure our little patches of earth can offer us!

But don't take our word for it, each month we'll be asking local garden folks 12 questions about their gardening (mis)adventures. This month, we ask our very own colleague and green-thumb, Julie to share her garden journey with us. Happy growing!

1.) When did you first discover your green thumb?

I grew up on a farm and have always been involved in planting various seeds and plants. Since moving to Tucson 40 years ago, my husband and I tried many different varieties before we could finally get a harvest from what we planted.

2.) What is your favorite time of year (season) to garden?

Fall is my favorite time to garden. If I can get salad greens and peas going they will keep producing into spring. It also requires less water because it’s cooler and sometimes we get rain that will keep the soil evenly moist.

3.) Biggest gardening success? Flop?

Biggest gardening success is salad greens, herbs and tomatoes! If you can get them to grow they taste so good! Biggest flop was carrots.They ended up short, stubby and deformed.

4.) Do you grow from seed or starts?

Tomatoes I always grow from plants. Everything else I grow from seed.

5.) Favorite recipe for your harvest?

My favorite recipe from my harvest is just a nice tossed salad with a variety of greens. It has a lot more flavor than what you purchase at the store.

6.) What special challenges do you face gardening in the desert?

Gardening in the desert is a huge challenge! It took several years before our garden would grow much. For years we added mulch, manure, peat, perlite, straw, and other things to our caliche.  Our dirt is now in good shape and we now have earthworms in it too! We enclosed our garden with galvanized posts and covered it with aviary wire to keep the birds and 4 legged critters out. When it’s really hot we cover it with shade cloth. Now that we have good soil we also have to deal with grubs.  Gardening in Tucson really is a challenge, but worth it.

7.) What are you growing now? And what are you getting ready to plant?

Right now I am growing several kinds of lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, Kale, sugar peas, dill, cilantro, basil and parsley. I will be planting those same things again in the spring plus tomato plants. I only plant cherry tomato type plants because they produce sooner than the full size ones and they also produce more fruit.

8.) Planting dates, do you follow religiously or do you tempt fate and experiment with when to plant?

I plant in fall from October through November. As soon as spring comes along I plant everything except tomatoes. I plant those about mid-March.

9.) Most indispensable garden tool?

My favorite tool is just a good shovel.

10.) What’s your favorite gardening book?

There are a lot of really good books on gardening, so I don’t have a favorite.

11.) If you were a plant, what plant would you be and why?

If I were a plant I would be basil. It smells wonderful and is just adds a nice flavor to a lot of different dishes.

12.) Are you a seed saver?

Yes, I am a seed saver and like to share them too!