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Welcome to AhwatukeeLife Gardening

For some great gardening tips, check out: HGTV

Become a Master Gardener Volunteer

The University of Arizona Maricopa County Cooperative Extension offers Master Gardener Training Courses.
Click here for more information on these programs.
Master Gardener Program

Desert Botanical Garden
Check out our calendar for events at the Desert Botanical Garden located at 1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix, AZ 85008. They have great classes and tours for adults, kids and families.
Desert Botanical Gardens

Sources for Seeds and Garden Supplies

We have raised bed gardens filled with organic soil from our favorite nursery Berridge Nursery, using only heirloom seeds from Seeds of Change. However there are many other good sources of seeds, and our only real recommendation is that you get started. But, it is just as easy to try using non-hybrid, non-GMO seeds as well as using organic soil and natural fertilizers.
So here are some of our favorites:
Seeds of Change
Territorial Seed
Gardeners Supply

Herb Gardens

Medicinal & Tea Garden
Plants have been used throughout history for food as well as healing. Please be sure that before you ingest or use any plant for medicinal purposes that you check with your physician and be sure you know what your using and that it is safe - just because something is natural, does not make it safe or healthy, and some people may be allergic as well. In general, use a teaspoon of dried herbs, or one - two teaspoons of fresh herbs to each cup of boiled water for tea. Do not let tea steep to long!

Aloe Vera - A succulent that can be helpful in the treatment of wounds, burn healing and minor skin infections.

Borage - Edible blue flowers (bees love them). Makes excellent tea and can be used in salads. The flowers are pretty as cake decorations.

Catnip - Easy to grow from seed and a favor tie treat for your cats (acts as a mild sedative for humans).

Echinacea (Yellow) This one has yellow flowers instead of purple, native to the Central Plains.

Feverfew - Camphor-scented and used medicinally since the 1800's, is said to help with migraines, arthritis, psoriasis and tension.

German Chamomile - This is a great plant overall - pretty, tastes and smells good. It has been used medicinally for hundreds of years. The flower buds can be used to make tea when dried, to calm nerves, upset stomachs, and to promote digestion. Can be grown as a companion plant to enhance growth of cucumbers, onions and most other herbs.

Hyssop - Easy to grow, with pine-musk scented leaves. Traditionally an aid to digestion and asthma relief, and externally to speed healing. Also used as an essential oil in perfumes.

Lemon Balm - Fresh leaves used in teas and salads. Very pleasant lemon-scented leaves.

Lemon Bergamot - Whirls of pink and purple bloom on this radiantly flowering plant. Native to the southern U.S., the edible leaves have a trace of lemon and oregano fragrance.
Lavender Bergamot Can be used as cut flowers (fresh or dried). Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. Citrus, oregano scented dried leaves make a soothing tea - can be used for influenza and bronchial infections. Harvest leaves before plant blooms - pick at peak of bloom.

Orange Zinger Calendula - Bright orange double flowers and long stemmed. Can be used as a cut flower and medicinally as a tincture or salve.

Pennyroyal - Used since early Greek times as an insect repellant and has a menthol-mint aroma.

Tarahumara Chia - Blue flowers that are tall and vibrant. A traditional food of the Chumash people, indigenous to Southern California and for the Tarahumara people of Mexico. they say that if the seed is mixed with water to make a gel, one tablespoon can sustain a person's energy level for a day.

Yarrow - Traditionally used to heal wounds and stop bleeding. It is told that Achilles first learned of this herb from his master Chiron, the Centaur.

Mediterranean Garden
Mediterranean gardens are perfect for Ahwatukee, and we definitely make use of ours almost everyday. You will need well-drained soil and a lot of sun.

French Lavender

Oregano - Used both as a culinary herb and medicinally. Member of the mint family and native to the Mediterranean, oregano is essential ingredient in many Italian dishes including pizza, pastas and roasted vegetables. Also used widely in Greek and Mexican cooking. Can be used as a tea for indigestion, bronchial problems, headaches and to promote menstruation. Unsweetened tea can be used as a mouthwash or gargle.

Rosemary - One of my favorite herbs in the garden. It is aromatic and decorative. Can be brewed to make a strong tea used to relieve aching joints, arthritis and as a mouthwash. Can be either a tall or sprawling plant with blue, pink or white flowers. We use the sprigs for kabobs on the barbecue, and it's excellent in pastas, breads, sauces and meats.

Sage - Sage is abundant in vitamins A and C. It has a very strong flavor and must be used sparingly. In the garden it's very decorative and is common in Mediterranean dishes. Oils in sage have astringent, antiseptic and irritant properties, so as been used on sore throats, and as a rinse.

Thyme - Primarily used as a condiment, the leaves are dried, chopped or ground. It is indigenous to the Mediterranean. Thyme is often used as a seasoning blends for stuffing and in soups.

Salsa Garden
We love to make fresh homemade salsa, and chili peppers are a great source of vitamin C, vitamin A and beta carotene! Chile peppers needs well-drained soil and light afternoon shade as well as frequent watering in the summer. Protect from frost in the winter.

Cilantro - cilantro (or coriander) is soft and feathery, has small flowers. The whole plant is edible, but we use the fresh leaves for salsa. Some people hate the taste and believe it to be "soapy",. Coriander contains antioxidants, and chemicals from the leaves have been found to have antibacterial activity against salmonella choleraesuis.

Onion - The bulb of the onion grows underground like garlic. It is not a tuber. Onions are used in many recipes, spanning almost the world's cultures, and the whole plant is edible. Onions have large cells so onion tissue is in science education as well. They are also believed to have many medicinal properties such as anti-inflamatory, antioxidant and able to act as an aphrodisiac.

Garlic - Close relative of the onion, shallot and more, it has been used throughout history both for culinary and medicinal purposes. The bulb is most commonly used part of the plant and it is mostly underground. Garlic is used in many different types of cooking and is often paired with onion, tomato or ginger and breads. It is mentioned in the Bible, Talmud, Hippocrates, Galen, Pliny the Elder all speak of using garlic for many conditions such as respiratory problems and low energy. In test tube studies it has been found to have antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal activity.

Bell Pepper - Sweet pepper of the Capsicum annum (chili pepper family) but the only capsicum that does not produce capsaicin - the chemical that can cause the burning sensation when it comes in contact with mucous membranes. . Beautiful green, red, yellow and orange colors.

Roma Tomatoes - The Roma tomato is a plum tomato and is great for canning or sauces. It is an open-pollinated variety, so not generally considered an hybrid or heirloom tomato.

Jalapeno Chile Pepper - Medium sized chili pepper. Capsicum with a Scoville heat unit of 2,500 - 8,000 so mild to hot depending on cultivation and preparation. The heat of the capsaicin is concentrated in the membrane surrounding the seeds, which are called picante. Handling fresh jalapeno may cause skin irritation. When preparing jalapeno, hands should not come in contact with the eyes as this can cause burning and redness. Chipoltes are smoked, ripe jalapeno.

Serrano Chile Pepper - A type of chili pepper that originated in the mountainous regions of Mexican states of Puebla and Hidalgo. The Serrano pepper's Scoville rating is 10,000 - 25,000. they are notably hotter than Jalapeno peppers and they are typically eaten raw or used to make pico de gallo.

Habanero Chile Pepper - One of the more intensely spicy chili peppers. They have a 100,000 - 350,000 Scoville rating. The Habanero chili pepper is originally from Cuba (the name Habanero means from Havana).

Flowers in the Garden

Hibiscus - Beautiful flower that is quite warm and native to warm-temperate regions. colors can be bright, red, yellow, pink, striped and many shades in between. They are used in the landscape to attract butterflies and bees. Hibiscus is also a primary ingredient in many herbal teas.

Poppy - We love the papery colorful flowers that bloom every spring. We have both California and Icelandic poppies growing. Bees love poppies as well.

Sunflowers - We plant edible sunflowers as shade plants on the west side of our raised beds, so they protect the other plants in the late afternoon. they are huge and beautiful and children love them.

January Garden Guide

Water: Less water is needed in the cooler winter weather. Water every 10 days - if it has not rained, do not overwater.

Frost: During January you will still need to watch for frost forecasts. Use old bed sheets or frost cloth to cover frost-tender plants.

Fruit and Nut Trees: Protect citrus trees from winter frost. Cover overnight with a sheet or blanket that reaches the ground and uncover after sunrise. Prune deciduous fruit trees and grapes.

Lawn: Fertilize winter lawns every three weeks.

Landscape Plants: Prune non-native deciduous shade trees. Transplant bare-root plants. Move living Christmas trees (eldarica pine or Aleppo pine) outside to a shaded, cool location for a few weeks and water daily. Transplant to a permanent locations. Water deeply once a month, Remove all weeds while young.

Herbs: Plant chamomile, cilantro, dill, garlic, chives, and thyme.

Vegetables: Prepare the soil for your spring planting.
You can plant carrots, chard, head and leaf lettuce, mustard, green onions, peas, potatoes, and spinach now.
You can transplant globe and Jerusalem artichoke, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and lettuce.

Annuals and Perennials: Plant seeds of begonia, black-eyed Susan, carnations, sweet William, geraniums, larkspur, nasturtiums, petunias, sweet alyssum and verbena.

Roses: Prune your roses and transplant bare-root roses.

May Garden Guide

Water: More water is needed in the warmer summer weather. Water twice weekly very deeply and in the morning - if it has not rained.

Fruit and Nut Trees: Do not prune citrus trees now except to remove dead or damaged wood. Plant citrus trees, it will be three years before fruit production no matter the size or age of a newly transplanted tree. Pecans need more water than most shade trees and you will want to use nitrogen and zinc on them also. Water deciduous fruit trees deeply. Cover fruit trees to protect from birds.

Lawn: Plant Bermuda lawns in mid-to late May. Fertilize and apply one inch of water per week to the lawn. Once every two or three years - de thatch if necessary. For small lawns, use a de thatching rake and de thatch in two directions. When finished fertilize and water.

Landscape Plants: Water plants enough to penetrate about the top 2 feet of soil. Deep infrequent watering is better than small daily watering. Make sure you apply mulch around the base of your plants - this conserves moisture and prevents the growth of weeds. As the weather grows hot, it's time to plant palms. Do not plant too deeply as they will rot if there is not enough drainage. Prune palms when flower spates show or wait until after the palm has finished flowering.

Herbs: Plant basil, and garlic chives. Mulch basil, fennel, lemon grass, parsley, and peppermint to keep the roots cool. Water herbs deeply every 3-5 days. All patio pots that are more than 10 inches need to be watered at least twice a week. Now is the time to transplant basil, garlic chives, lemon grass, peppermint, peppers/chilies and spearmint. Make sure you wash all herbs in clean water before cooking..

Vegetables: Plant black-eyed peas, melons, okra and sunflowers. You will want to use a shade cloth over tomatoes to keep insects away and to prevent curly top virus. The virus severely stunts and kills vegetable plants.

Roses: Fertilize established roses. Liquid fertilizers can be added at two week intervals.