Prescott Area Vegetable Gardening is a joy and a challenge given our spring drought, variable weather temperatures, soil conditions, and alkaline water. Consider techniques noted below to address these challenges for bountiful produce!
Our climate pattern is one of precipitation in the winter and summer, and drought in the spring and fall. So, at a time when seeds and vegetable starts need ample water, Mother Nature does not help. Supplemental water must be provided regularly to assure the plants get off to a good start. The summer monsoons do help, yet rainfall must be at least .25″ to count as a watering cycle. Put a rain gauge in your garden to determine rainfall amounts.
Our day and night time temperatures fluctuate significantly during the late spring. It is not uncommon to have freezing or near freezing temperatures and even snow during May. Typically Mother’s Day is the earliest gardeners can reliably plant tender annuals and perennials, though protection from the elements is still strongly encouraged. I pay attention to local weather forecasts and use walls-of-water to protect against low temperatures and the winds typical of our spring.
Our soils provide another challenge to successful vegetable gardening. In general, vegetable plants prefer a soil with neutral pH which allows the roots to utilize the nutrients and elements found in the soil. Our soil is markedly alkaline and this makes nutrients and elements unavailable for use by the plants. The regular addition of organic matter in the form of well composted compost, manures, seed meals, and liquid acidifiers slowly moves the soil pH toward neutral.
Our soils also are poor in both nitrogen and phosphorous, requiring supplementation of each on a regular basis. Amendments which help with alkalinity also help to provide nitrogen and to feed the soil organisms responsible for healthy plant growth. Phosphorous must be added, preferably in the root zone, in the early spring for most effective uptake by vegetable plants. The alkalinity of our soils hinders phosphorous uptake, so be generous in your application. We recommend the use of triple phosphate as bone meal takes significantly longer to break down to become available to the plants.
Our Prescott area water is all from underground aquifers. Since it travels through our alkaline granitic soils, it too becomes alkaline in nature. So, every time you water you move the chemical composition back toward alkalinity! Therefore, the addition of organic matter to counter this trend must be an ongoing process. Harvesting rain water for use on your vegetable garden is helpful too, as rainwater is neutral in pH.
Contact us for more information about Prescott Area Vegetable Gardening.