How to Grow a Vegetable & Fruit Garden in Arizona


Arizona produces commercial groups of citrus fruits, grapes and lettuce. Home gardeners in Arizona grow those fruits and vegetables and many others as well. While the nearly frost-free climate allows year-long gardening, Arizona does have the disadvantage of alkaline soil and very hot summers. Those problems can be overcome with a little extra work and attention.

Step 1

Find a location that receives eight hours of sunlight a day. Keep in mind that in the fall and winter, the sun changes its position in the sky. What is in full sun in the summer months might be too shady in the winter months.

Step 2

Dig the soil to a depth of 24 inches. Break up any caliche (calcium carbonate) deposits that interfere with drainage. Caliche is common in Arizona soils. You might have to use a pick axe to get through it. Add 3 inches of compost or organic material. The desert soil is poor in organic matter because plant litter takes a long time to decompose, and there isn't a lot of it. Add a bag of gypsum for every 10 square feet of garden. Arizona's soil is alkaline. Plants do better in acidic soil. Gypsum decreases the alkalinity in the soil.

Step 3

Add slow-release fertilizer per package directions. Mix all the soil amendments well. Remove any rocks and debris and then rake the garden level.

Step 4

Plant lemon and lime trees on the west side of the garden, one in each corner of the garden. The trees should be at least 10 feet apart. The trees will provide afternoon shade for the vegetable garden. Keep the trees pruned so the tallest branches are no more than 8-feet tall so you can easily harvest the fruit. Dig the holes as deep as the trees' container and as wide.

Step 5

Plant tall vegetables such as corn and pole beans as the first rows on the west side of the garden. Corn should be planted 1-inch deep and 6-inches apart. Plant pole beans 1-inch deep as well but only 3-inches apart.

Step 6

Plant medium vegetables like tomatoes in the next rows. In Arizona. It's best to buy started plants and transplant to the garden. Stake the tomatoes or cage them. Construct a mound 1-foot away from the main stem of the tomato to hold water.

Step 7

Plant shorter vegetables like eggplant, hot and sweet peppers and bush beans on the east side of the garden.

Step 8

Water so the garden receives an inch of water twice a week during the late spring. Arizona has very hot summers where temperatures reach more than 100 degrees nearly every day during June, July and August. Water every other day with an inch of water during those months.

Step 9

Fertilize twice as often as package directions but at half strength.

Tips and Warnings

  • Citrus trees have thorns. Wear gloves when handling fertilizer.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Pick axe
  • Compost
  • Gypsum
  • Fertilizer
  • Rake
  • Pruners


  • Netstate: Arizona
  • "The Desert Gardener's Calendar"; George Brookbank; 1999
Keywords: vegetable garden Phoenix, grow fruits desert, growing veggies desert

About this Author

Brian Hill's first writing credit was the cover story for a national magazine. He is the author of three popular books, "The Making of a Bestseller," "Inside Secrets to Venture Capital" and "Attracting Capital from Angels." Among his magazine article credits are the March 2005 and June 2008 issues of "The Writer." His interests include golf, football, movies and his two dogs.