Our fifth Virtual Garden Tour brings us to the beautiful Summer Garden of Jeannine Sander. In only a couple years she has turned a plain, rock-mulched property into a garden bursting with food in every season. This particular tour takes place in the summer, which if you live in Arizona, is remarkable in itself. I’m so excited to see that Summers really can be a productive time here. Now I’ll turn it over to Jeannine to take you through her tour.
My background in gardening began when I was very young working in my parents garden. My first job was on a 100 acre farm in Massachusetts. We harvested a wide variety of veggies and also had many types of peaches, nectarines and more apple varieties than I could ever remember. I can still ID a Macintosh vs a Cortland Apple on sight! I’ve had gardens and trees in several different zones and find Phoenix gardening to be the best. Though we have a steep learning curve, this 365 days of available production is extremely impressive. I eat daily from my yard. Not one day passed this summer when I didn’t have fresh produce.
But it didn’t start out that way!
Two years later!
Front yard filled with Armenian Cucumber, Black Diamond, Moon & Stars and Sugar baby Watermelon, sugarcane and Okinawan sweet potato vines which yield mild edible greens in the heat of summer and sweet potatoes in winter.
Black Sphinx and Tabarzal date palm pups. Will be a few years but growing my own dates will be a Wonderful addition to the fruits available in the early Fall.
Entryway into my back yard through gate. Including sugarcane, castor, 3 varieties mango tree, Okinawan sweet potato vines and a Lisbon lemon(5 years old) in back.
The backyard is filled with fruit trees and watermelon vines.
Lisbon lemon with multiple grafts added this year to yield a variety of fruits.
Pomegranate tree (5years old) with tall castor to the middle and my tangelo tree (5years old also).
A good covering of wood mulch is underneath all of that foliage.
It’s getting hard to walk with the vine growth all over. I’ve fought some pests but I’ve found having such a large quantity of vines means that though some succumb to pests… Most of them make it and bear fruit all summer.
The three methods I employ to make my summer garden so productive are watershed management, mulch, and shaded ground produced by edible ground cover.
Watershed Management Group helped with the design and construction of the giant berms and basins for water harvesting in the front.
Here are the berms and Swales.
Construction of ditches to direct rain water from gutters to my Garden Prince and Nonpareil Almond trees.
You can see how the water will flow during a rain.
Once the ground was contoured to direct the water where we wanted it to go, it was time to cover the whole thing with a thick layer of wood mulch to hold moisture in and shade the roots.
Here it is in action! Working just like it is supposed to. All the water that falls on my property stays on it.
Grow your own shade
I prepped for summer by identifying my most susceptible tree like this Loquat and planting Canna Lillie’s around the tree in the late winter to begin growing a natural mulch, shade and sunblock for the tree. This method worked out great.
Lots of yard long beans planted in tree wells that grew over delicate year one trees shielding them from sun
Shangri La Mulberry Tree with squash vine coming out of tree well.
Coconut Cream Mango with Sugarcane and watermelon vines around base. Harvested 4 Sugar baby watermelons from this tree well alone in one week.
Here are a variety of young fruit trees being shaded by watermelon vines.
My trees weren’t the only one’s to benefit!
Over 40 watermelon harvested this year. My method was mostly in native soil. I planted many many seeds and everything is covered in wood chips. They were flood-watered when I watered my fruit trees once a week. That’s it! Great yields with little care.
The tropical side of my garden
Even the bananas are under-planted with vines.
Lakatan banana with pups
I have several mango trees which I expect to yield fruit next summer… Coconut cream, Southern Blush, Nam Doc Mai, Antonio, Piña Colada and Carrie.
Mango being watered from my rain barrel.
Papaya trees starting to flower
Other Summer Harvests
Second Fruiting of 2016 on my Black Mission Fig
Tomatoes still producing in August thanks to Western shade and nearby vines keeping roots cool.
Corn between fruit trees
Beautiful corn in June.
Spaghetti squash grown in native soil in my front yard.
Sunflowers for the bees!
Summers in Arizona don’t look so bad anymore, do they?