Six Easy Ways to Start Gardening

By / Photography By Carole Topalian | February 15, 2011
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Tilling the soil

1. Grow one thing – even if it's in a pot. I often tell people that the easiest plants to grow (and the most expensive ones to purchase in the grocery store) are herbs. One of our local herb heroes is Gregory from Dos Arbolitos ( He grows and sells spectacular herbs and vegetable plants. Chat with him at Phoenix Public Market for advice and to purchase your plant starts. Herbs grow very well in pots and the bigger the pot the better.
Or pick a sunny part of your yard, and purchase a bag of mulch and a zucchini plant. Work the mulch into your garden bed, plant the zucchini and before long you will be in herb and zucchini heaven. Visit the Urban Farm website ( for a free year-round planting calendar and Baker Nursery ( for a nice selection of pots and mulch.

2. Take a class. During the past few years gardening classes have sprouted up all over our Valley. Organizations such as Desert Botanical Garden (, Phoenix Permaculture Guild (, Maricopa County Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Program ( and even some of the local nurseries such as Harpers ( offer classes.

3. Hire a Consultant. Gardens in Bloom (602-694-9771), Life's a Garden (, Garden Goddess for Hire ( and the Urban Farm all offer differing levels of garden consultations to assist you in creating your gardening paradise. They can help you learn about natural and permaculture design, desert gardening techniques, garden installation and irrigation, often hands-on and specifically for your situation.

4. Join a Club. Phoenix is blessed with some incredible gardening organizations including AZ Herb Association (, AZ Rare Fruit Growers Association (, and general gardening clubs such as Washington Garden Club (602-265-8677) and Valley of the Sun Gardeners (602-942-1543). They offer monthly meetings and educational opportunities plus the added bonus of a built-in community of friends.

5. Plant a Fruit Tree. The nicest thing about a fruit tree is that you plant it once and it grows fruit for many years. The only rule is to plant fruit that you love. Take a class on fruit trees, visit a nursery to select your new tree or participate in the Phoenix Permaculture Guild's annual tree sale.

6. Get Creative. Look for a community garden in your neighborhood or start your own. My friend Margaret the condo gardener found a weed-overgrown garden space in her neighbor's yard. Margaret approached the neighbor and before she knew it she was in garden paradise. Community and school gardens are popping up all over the place so check with your local school or the Phoenix Permaculture Guild for community garden possibilities. Or volunteer to help your favorite gardener – we farmers and gardeners can always use help weeding.

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