Residents of Phoenix march to the beat of a different drum, emerging from our climate controlled homes and offices with a spring-like song in our hearts and busily planting when most gardeners across the nation are putting their plots to bed. The marvelous and peculiar reason for our offbeat behavior is simply that the invigoration of springtime comes twice annually to Phoenix; first at winter’s thaw, and again when the sterilizing heat of summer finally abates. Both spring and fall, the desert buds and blooms, and its beauty is the just reward to desert dwellers who brave the torrid summers to live in the desert southwest.

I would dare to say that no one feels the passion and the promise of the changing seasons more than those who grow food in the arid low desert.  Though our mild temperatures in the spring and fall are delicious, they are also fleeting. It often seems that just as soon spring weather warms to conditions that are ideal for seed germination, temperatures quickly skyrocket to highs that are capable of damaging plant growth and production.  In as early as February, 90 degree days are possible, and sometime between Valentine’s Day and Easter, I am often scrambling to apply shade cloth to protect my tender summer seed starts and to help my cool season vegetables and greens survive just a little bit longer…

Phoenix is not alone in its seasonal challenges.  All around the country, gardeners must adapt to local growing conditions: the fleeting summers of Alaska and Colorado, Florida’s tropical heat and high winds, snow in the Midwest and the Eastern Seaboard.   Gardeners in various regions have their own unique strategies to overcome seasonal impediments to growing and raising food.  Local university extension offices and Master Gardener programs can be very helpful in sharing the various techniques that are employed in specific locations. Locate a Master Gardener program near you at

While learning seasonal techniques is helpful, understanding how the changing seasons affect plant germination and growth is even more important, as it will equip you with understanding that goes deeper than simple mechanics.  The links on this page are dedicated to exploring how seasonal changes affect plants and livestock.  (Read more in Chapter Four of City Farming: A How-to Guide to Growing Crops and Raising Livestock in Urban Spaces.)


How To Put Your Garden to Bed – Winter Is Coming!

How to Put Your Garden to Bed As winter approaches, it is time to prepare the garden for dormancy.  This is true in areas that experience hard frosts or freezes.  Here is how to put your garden to bed. First, prune back. Cut back perennial plants.  Wait until after the […]

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Planting Calendar and Warm & Cool Season Vegetables

Planting calendars are essential to successful gardening. A planting calendar is a tool that tells a farmer or gardener the specific dates or window of time that is best for planting various crops. They are one of the most valuable tools in a grower’s toolbox.  Here is why. Has this […]

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Raising Dairy Goats at Wish We Had Acres Farm

How We Got Started Raising Dairy Goats & Tips for Cold Weather Farming

Raising dairy goats in the city may sound like a strange idea.  But nothing beats fresh, sweet milk and cheese that can only come from backyard goats.  If you want to get a goat, be sure to get plenty of advice from urban dairy farmers beforehand so that you understand how to keep goats and how to get the most out of them. We had the good fortune to meet our mentor goat farmers by happy accident.  Here is how we got started raising dairy goats and some tips for keeping goats warm in winter.

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Learn to Farm at the Center for Urban Agriculture

Interview with Peter Condon of MCC Center for Urban Agriculture Where Students Learn to Farm Using Sustainable Agriculture Methods Kari:  I’m here with Peter Condon and Christee Rothbard at the Mesa Community College Center for Urban Agriculture, where students can learn to farm successfully and profitably.  We are here to […]

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School Gardens & Farm Education at Youth Farm

School Gardens Teach Teens and Young Adults to Farm Interview with Molly, co-manager of The Youth Farm school gardens and teaching farm (Brooklyn, NY) On a cool April day, one month prior to the peak growing season, Lewis and I visited one NYC’s most visionary urban farms, The Youth Farm […]

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Backyard Permaculture at Rodman Farm

Backyard Permacuture with Urban Farmer Heather Rodman The internet is a wonderful tool for connecting with like-minded folks.  I recently asked a question online about Tattler canning lids, and received a wonderful reply from Heather Rodman.  Her response piqued my interest in her farm.  I discovered that Heather is a […]

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Start a Farm Business: Notes from Stone Hoe Gardens

Interview with Tina and Bruce Leadbetter of Stone Hoe Gardens on the history of the farm, how they manage their dairy goats, how to start a farm business, and how farm businesses evolve.   (Kari) I’m here with Tina and Bruce of Stone Hoe Gardens in Phoenix, AZ to talk […]

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Using Water for Frost Protection

It may seem counter-intuitive, but one strategy that commercial growers use to protect plants from cold temperatures is to water the soil prior to a frost.   Water is an excellent insulator. Plant cells that are plump with water are more resistant to frost damage.  Moist soil retains heat better than […]

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Garden Fabrics

I have been known to use old bed sheets for frost and shade protection in my garden.  But sheets have some disadvantages:  they block too much light, can be unsightly, can block the rain, and must be removed during the daytime in the winter.  I have also used plastic, which […]

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How to Grow Tomatoes Anywhere, Even in Phoenix

Tomatoes Are Easy, Once You Know a Few Tomato Growing Hacks I have heard it over and over again; newcomers to the Phoenix valley lamenting the tasteless tomatoes in our local grocery stores, and the loss of red, juicy wonders they knew back home. Here in Phoenix, the only way […]

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