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Starting Your Phoenix Kitchen Garden From Seeds

Updated: Sep 8, 2022

There is nothing more satisfying than starting your own seeds. The benefits include getting a jump on the season and having access to hundreds of specialty varieties that you won't always find in your local nursery or garden center. Starting with seeds also allows you to plant your garden in the most inexpensive way. This is not meant to be an exhaustive step-by-step of how to plant seeds. There are many fine publications, books, and videos that will give you the instructions step-by-step.

Where To Begin

I think one of the trickiest parts of planning your garden and choosing what to grow is knowing which plants, herbs, and flowers are suitable for this time of year. In the low desert, we have two growing seasons - fall and spring - and maybe a 3rd if we have a good monsoon season. Then comes the next question: Can I start these plants directly in my garden from seeds or do I need to start the seeds indoors, allowing them to grow then transplant?

Side Note: There are a few other items, such as garlic and onions, that grow from their own bulb. We'll touch later on those for fall gardening.

Seeds To Start Indoors

Why start a seed indoors? It usually allows you to get a jump on the development of a plant that is going to need longer number days to reach maturity.

The below vegetables require a longer time to develop:

  • asparagus

  • broccoli

  • cabbage

  • cauliflower

  • eggplant

  • tomatoes

  • tomatillos

  • peppers

In order to get them in the ground at the perfect time, starting these plants in the middle of summer indoors allows us to transplant these mid-August to early September.

PKG Cautionary Tale:

Make sure you’re very careful with the roots when transplanting to your garden. If you buy transplants in the nursery and they seem a little root bound, gently tease the roots out so they can get a good start. For others, it's recommended they are started from seed.

Plants That Can Be Direct Sown

Planting directly in your garden is referred to as direct sown. These generally include root vegetables like beets, carrots, radishes, etc. And as we're heading into cooler weather in the fall, plants such as lettuce, kale, peas, and onions can be direct sown.


Here's some good news: Much of the information we need is right on the back of the seed package. For example, it's recommended that radishes are planted 8 – 12 weeks before your average first frost - that’s generally the second week of December. Plant two seeds per planting hole, and thin when they are 1 inch. Leeks are a plant you can start indoors or outdoors, and the package tells you exactly that. The tomatillo package tells you that it's not recommended to start them outdoors. You should start indoors 4 - 6 weeks before the anticipated transplant date.

Okay so this may seem like a lot, but I suggest you take it one step at a time! Sit down with our list of the fall recommended plants and a calendar, and you will very easily be able to determine what plants start inside plant, in the ground, and which can go either way. Our fall planting season is short, so you want to select varieties that mature quickly - 40 to 60 days - or those that will tolerate a little bit of frost. Broccoli, cauliflower, and kale can usually can handle a bit of frost.

Here are some of my favorite resources for seeds and other propagation:

Maricopa County Vegetable Gardening

Low Desert Herb Gardening Handbook by the Arizona Herb Association

Farmers Almanac

I would love to help you cultivate your green thumb! To book a consultation, click the link on the PKG homepage or call 602-722-7971.

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