After years and years of thinking, “it would be so awesome to plant a garden” we went for it this spring.  
When we finished off our back yard we had two little boxes built: 

They sat there empty for a little while until we could get our bearings straight but this spring the stars aligned and we planted.

I say “we” quite liberally because although I had grand visions of having my girls all pick out a vegetable they wanted to care for and plant and prune “their” crop themselves (like we did growing up), in the end it was just easier to get out there and plant myself…and then have them help me water.

Isn’t that how parenting is sometimes?  But they will have their turn as I figure this out.

Also, we didn’t plant from seeds, “we” got the great little starters from Home Depot.

Baby steps, right?

There is just something so beautiful about a garden I tell you!
I only planted one of the planters this first time around because of my “baby steps” plan and because I think it takes a little tweaking to grow a “green thumb” in the desert.  

But tomatoes and basil were the biggest things I was concerned with to start.  I mean, having the supplies for home-made bruschetta and caprese salad right out your back door sounds pretty dreamy to me.

We tried lettuce and basil and oregano and zucchini too.

I was SO excited when I saw those first little beauties ripe and ready for the picking.

The cherry tomatoes were first.

Then the heirloom and the two other kinds I planted that I can’t remember the name of.

That garden grew and grew.

My mom, the weed-plucker-extraordinaire, helped keep it nice while she was in town.

 When we left town for a couple weeks we came back to a “jungle” of crazy vines.

 One of those types of tomatoes is a CRAZY grower I have learned.

But oh boy we ended up with some deliciousness.

Let’s get a better look at that crop:

There we go.

After some work I was able to make it presentable again, so we’ll see how that holds up.  The girls and I are out of town again now, but I’ll be excited to see if the zucchini is ready for me when we return.

And if everything hasn’t completely melted in the 120 degrees crazy weather there, it will be time for some great tomato/basil/zucchini recipe creations.

If anyone out there has desert gardening experience or tips please send them right on over.  I can use all the help I can get!

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  1. I didn't know this but if you don't have bees or other pollenating insects, you have to shake the veggie plants when the flowers appear to help pollenate them.

    1. This is helpful to know! There don't seem to be many bees around our area ( 🙁 ) but maybe a little shake might help our plants flower 🙂

  2. Hey this turned out beautifully. Nothing like home-grown tomatoes! Congrats! Sorry I wasn't there to help you sort out the weeds! 🙂

  3. Shawni, I sent you an email about Max with pictures. (my friend is serving in the same area) I don't know if it was the correct one. Please email me back if you don't get it!

    1. Hi Bethany, I didn't get an email, but I'd sure love to! Maybe you have my email address incorrect? It is sepphotography at gmail dot com. Thanks!

  4. If you can find tomatoes that are classified as "Determinite" they will not grow so big and out of control. Determinites work better in a grow box like yours. "Indeterminites" which I think is probably what you have, grow a huge bushy bush that gets out of control quickly. Google can explain it better!

  5. My folks moved to Las Vegas a few years ago and they have learned that they can get two crops from the tomatoes. They plant early in the spring and have tomatoes by the end of May/early June. Then it gets too hot for the tomatoes to set but they just keep on watering those plants. In the fall when it cools down a bit the plants flower again and it's cool enough to set fruit so fresh tomatoes for Thanksgiving too.

  6. Those tomatoes look great! Growing Vegetables in Drought, Desert & Dry Times by Maureen Gilmore is a super helpful book all about growing veggies in really hot and dry climates. Maureen is a master gardener living in Palm Springs so she knows what she's talking about 😉

  7. Beautiful garden and tomatoes! Congrats on starting to garden in AZ. Gardening in our area is amazing because we can grow things year round. Right now I am growing basil, tomatoes, squash and watermelon. I just invited you to my little "Gardening in Phoenix" Facebook group.

  8. Hi Shawni,
    If possible, please could you tell me if Charity has had her baby yet?

    I know he's due around now. She hasn't updated her blog in the past week, so I was wondering if he's arrived.

    If he has please pass on my congrats to Charity & Ian.x

    1. Hi,
      Thank you for the info.

      This is lovely news, I'm really happy for them.x I'm really looking forward to knowing what they've named him etc.

      I haven't got IG as I haven't got an iphone etc.

  9. I have started growing in straw bales this year which is awesome because NO WEEDING! Love that. Also, they're great for holding water (like a sponge) but they never flood (which out here in the East is a problem). You can also plant earlier in straw bales and, when you condition them properly, their internal structure breaks down into super rich compost that feeds your plants really well.

    Your garden looks great! Our tomatoes are finally ripening now that we've had some hot days! We had them on tacos tonight. Yum. 🙂

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