Tips for starting a garden during an Arizona summer

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN9) — Farmers and ranchers have been warning food will likely continue to get more expensive. Many of them say a home garden could be a good way to offset costs and add variety to the dinner table. But Arizona’s summer heat might be a little intimidating for first time gardeners.

“100% of the time, all year long, native plants are the way to go,” said Owner, Strategic Habitat Enhancements Carianne Funicelli.

Funicelli calls herself a native gardening consultant. She says spiky succulents and other native plants are usually hardier and require a lot less water.

Prickly Pears and other cacti can bear fruit for eating, and mesquite trees can be fruitful as well.

“They are going to be providing habitat for wildlife and shade for us,” said Funicelli. “Also, the pods you can grind down and make mesquite flour and make all sorts of delicious foods with them.

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Citrus trees may not be from this area, but they do well even in full sun. However, if you really want to try a vegetable garden this summer, there are ways to make it happen.

“There are options for growing this time of year,” said Green Things Manager Trey Barton. “But we are in a challenging climate so there is a limit on what you can grow.”

Barton says Chile peppers love the heat. Melons, peanuts, and squash also can do well if given enough water and shade.

“If you have the ability in your yard to plant them in an area to get morning sun and afternoon shade, that would be an excellent location for them,” said Barton.

Funicellis says in times like these a garden can help feed your stomach and your soul.

“I think it is good to be prepared and supplement the food you put on the table for your family,” she said. “But also, when you spend time in your garden it brings you closer to this amazing place we live in that is like nowhere else on earth.”

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Brian Brennan is a Meteorologist and reporter for KGUN 9. Brian’s fascination with weather began as a kid in Arizona watching the intense thunderstorms during monsoon. Seeing ice fall from the sky (in the form of hail) onto the hot desert got him hooked. Brian also has a passion for telling people’s stories and reporting. He has covered major breaking news, court trials, Nellis Air Force Base, and has put himself at the center of many weather events. Share your story ideas and important issues with Brian by emailing [email protected] or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.