This Guide provides planting information for all vegetable, flower and herb seeds carried by Westwind Seeds. Basic planting information for each variety is included. Raised bed planting information and Tucson, Arizona planting dates are also listed in this guide.
All seeds carried by Westwind Seeds are non-hybrid, open pollinated and chemically untreated. We have chosen varieties we believe to be the best adapted for extremes in climate, including heat and dry weather conditions.
Seeds have differing requirements for optimum germination. Basic requirements of warmth, light and moisture can be regulated to insure the best possible starter plants. Many varieties may be started indoors while the weather is still too cold for planting outdoors. Tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants for example, may be easily started in flats for transplanting later into the garden. Direct seeding into the garden often produces stronger and hardier plants that do not have to go through the shock of transplanting. All our seeds are tested for germination rates by the growers and we also test the seeds for viability and germination in our test gardens.
Raised Bed/Intensive Gardening Method
Raised beds are characterized by the following: beds are double dug, beds are 6-12 inches above ground level/beds are three to five feet wide depending on your reach and they are never walked on once they are turned over.
The advantages of raised bed gardening are many; vegetables may be planted closer together throughout the bed for higher yields in smaller spaces. Close planting prevents wind damage and the vegetables shade the ground reducing weed growth and evaporation. Deep root growth is encouraged and plants utilize water better. However, the beds retain heat more readily than either the flat or sunken bed method and this must be taken into consideration before using raised beds. Using raised beds has an advantage where there is extensive caliche or bedrock beneath the surface.
Double digging: Dig a 12" trench on one side of your bed. Transport the dug up soil to the opposite end. Loosen soil beneath the trench to a depth of about 12." In the desert, use a pick to loosen up the hard pack dirt underneath. If you hit caliche (a cement-like subsoil) work down as much as possible and raise bed so that it the surface is at least 18" above the caliche. Pick through the caliche in at least one place -preferably in the middle of the bed for drainage.
Dig a second trench next to the first trench and transfer soil to the first trench. Add composted manure to the lower half of the bed as well as the top layer. Repeat trenches across the face of the bed. When you are finished, the bed will be well aerated and fluffy. It will naturally sit above ground level because of the digging method and the added compost.
Do not walk on the bed after double digging it. Roots will now grow straight down instead of spreading horizontally. This method allows you to plant much more closely.
Zuni Basin Method
In the desert, rain is the most valuable component in your gardening. Southwest Indians often used large basins to catch the rain. Sides of the bed were built up as much as one foot to allow for flood irrigation during the Monsoon season. Also deep watering encourages roots to grow deep. This method allows the top few inches to dry hard while tne earth a foot deep is still moist.
Combination Raised Bed/Basin Method
Because our subsoil is caliche, we use a combination of a double dug raised bed with a basin for deep watering. Our soil, when wet, can have the consistency of clay and we can dry the sides of the bed so that they are almost like adobe brick. We insulate the sides with stones, dug from the bed, so that evaporation is lessened and the beds stay cool.
Local gardening clubs and University Cooperative Extension Services can supply gardeners with detailed information on their specific areas. In addition, there are many excellent gardening books available. Please let us know any tricks that you have discovered to enrich your soil and grow the best vegetables.