The southwest has its share of challenges of growing fresh vegetables. With very hot, dry conditions dominating much of the summer months, growing some varieties of vegetables is almost out of the question if certain precautions aren’t taken.
Here are five vegetables that grow well in southwest vegetable gardens.
Peppers go along with the southwest like rice and gravy, especially when it comes to chili peppers. There are a wide variety of peppers to choose from, such as sweet banana peppers to the outrageously hot habanero peppers.
Peppers seeds need very warm soil temperatures in order to germinate, usually at least 70 – 75°F during the day and no lower than 60°F at night.
Make sure to use sharp scissors to cut the peppers from the plant when harvesting. Trying to pull the pepper from the plant can cause damage to the plant. It’s easy to accidentally snap off an entire branch when pulling peppers by hand.
Tomatillos are grown just like tomatoes, needing the same water and nutrient requirements as them. Tomatillos grow inside a papery husk which can be peeled away after harvesting.
They can be added in soups, dips, and add great flavor to salsa. Japanese beetles can strip plants of leaves. Handpick the beetles and drop them in soapy water. Paper towel collars may need to be placed around plants to prevent cutworms.
Edamame is the edible version of soybeans that are very flavorful and healthy. It can grow very well in the southwest where it needs warm temperatures for germination.
As long as the soil is fertile edamame will grow like gangbusters, because its not extremely fussy. Edamame is a legume so avoid planting it in the same place legumes grew the year before.
Edamame has the best taste when harvested young and tender. The pods tend to ripen all at once so check the pods daily once they form. Once the pods feel full and the beans are starting to touch cut the entire plant off at the soil level.
A delicious variety of edamame is Be Sweet, which has high yields and great flavor.
Lima beans are in the legume family as well and likewise, should not be planted before or after other legumes. Corn and lettuces can be planted in the same area a legume was planted the year before.
Japanese beetles, cutworms, and rust can all be slight problems when growing lima beans.
Just about any type of onion can be grown in southwest vegetable gardens, but green onions really can thrive. Green onions are actually immature bulb onions and are also called bunching onions.
The bulb and the green tops are completely edible. The green tops can be used in salads, soups, dips, dressings, and just about any dish that would benefit a slightly onion taste.
Here’s a cool trick with growing green onions: Instead of pulling the entire plant up, snip the green tops back a few inches as they grow, The green tops will continue to grow through out the season, providing you with green tops all season. At the end of the season you can pull the bulb up for use, or let it overwinter, and use the following spring.
In the southwest, you may be able to grow green onions year round in the southern areas.
If you live in a different region than the southwest, check out these other areas for recommendations:
What are some vegetables that you grow in your southwest vegetable garden?