Boho Farm and Home's Caroline Van Slyke Offers Tips on Gardening in Phoenix
If you have pets and plan to grow food, you might want to purchase items to cover your first food garden.
"Most things edible to us are edible to our pets. That is why I cover my garden with construction mesh, to keep the birds, dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, and kids out."
Van Slyke started food gardening with roses. Yep, roses. "Roses have a place in my heart. They are food for the soul. And I do make rose petal jelly from them too."
Of course, water is important, too. You can certainly plant a garden near your hose, but better yet, hook a set up drip hoses to a raised bed. This enables you to water the garden on a timing system, which is great if you work during the day or leave town a lot.
From Boho Farm + Home A benefit of growing roses? Rose petal jam.
"When it's cooler or cold, you'll want to water about every three days," Van Slyke says. "If we get a freeze warning, water the plans, but do not get water on the leaves. The watering keeps your plant warmer. Then wrap with frost cloth."
Now, onto soil. "Your soil is the best key to success in gardening," she says. You might currently have a yard full of sand and/or xeriscape. Bottom line -- you might need to indulge and pay for some dirt.
"The soil make up all over the Valley is different, but what I do that I have found to work where we live [in an old orchard in Arcadia] is 50 percent native soil and 50 percent organic matter. I would get the native soil from your own yard because you know what has been done to this. "
However, you might want to rethink using your own soil if you've had the Orkin man out to spray for bugs. "Get Singh Farms fine compost or Western Organics organic soil mix, both of these you can get in yards, and work the native soil and organic matter/compost together. I know people don't want to pay for dirt, but it is the wisest investment . . . Then get a good organic fish or kelp fertilizer and use it every month on your veggies. Singh Farms has their own blend or you can get it at Bakers," she says.
From Boho Farm + Home A garden can add some style to your yard as well.
Van Slyke is a force to be reckoned with, and her own garden/farm is inspirational. So inspirational, your thumb might turn green just standing in her yard, which she occasionally opens to the public. You can meet and speak to Van Slyke herself as she sells her garden fresh preserves every Friday and Saturday at Singh Farms Farmers Market. Often, her items are also available at Sweet Salvage (open the third Thursday of each month), and Van Slyke also hosts dinners and other farm events at her home. Visit her blog for details.