Ask a Farmer: Starting a Family Garden

Ask a Farmer: Moms Ask Arizona Farmers & Ranchers Question #4

“I want to start a family garden: What are the best crops for me to grow at home?”

Kelly Young

Kelly Young: U of A Horticulture Agent Kelly Young in a cauliflower field

We are happy to hear your enthusiasm about starting a garden! A garden can be both fun and educational and is a great project to work on as a family. It’s important, however, to have a plan so you can enjoy the fruits of your labor as a family as well; and who better to ask for advice than an Arizona farmer?

With our warm climate and abundant sunshine, Arizona is a great place to grow a garden year-round.  There is an abundance of crops that can be grown in Arizona, but different crops are appropriate for each region and each season.  You can start by talking to your family and deciding what you enjoy eating the most.  Once you have decided what your favorites are, you can look up when the appropriate months are to plant them (refer to the links below).

Our state provides an excellent gardening environment, but extreme heat, pests and disease can be a challenge.  We recommend that you chose varieties that mature quickly, provide desirable yield and taste, adapt to climate and soils and are disease and pest resistant.  Just to give you an idea of what an Arizona garden can offer you each season, a few of our favorites for summer harvest are tomatoes, sweet corn and watermelon, and a few of our winter harvest favorites are carrots, lettuce and peas.  There are so many delicious and nutritious options!

A planting calendar for Maricopa County can be found online. This link also provides useful information on garden pests and appropriate plant varieties.

Another useful publication, Ten Steps to a Successful Vegetable Garden can be found here.

Finally, don’t forget Fill Your Plate’s Seasonal Charts. It’s another reference guide for you to see what’s in season and to help influence what you might decide to grow.


Advice by Kelly Murray Young, the Assistant Horticulture Agent at the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension for Maricopa County. Young also hosts Beginner Farmer programs at Maricopa County Cooperative Extension.

Project Coordinator for “Ask a Farmer” Savannah N. Bayci


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