In the several years that I’ve been gardening here in the high desert of AZ have seen our zone classification shift from 7A to 7B to 8A. But zone classifications doesn’t really tell the whole story. We are at 4500 feet and in the southern portion of the U.S.. that increases our UV intensity, decreases our humidity (which means a higher rate of transpiration – hence my high incidence of blossom end rot), and gives us huge temperature fluctuations, as much as 40+ degrees over the course of a 24 hour cycle.
All I have is a backyard garden. While the small area is left naturalized as much as possible, I take advantage of naturally occurring spaces to create micro climates and small grow areas using grow bags and containers. During the course of the growing year I try to get as much from the garden into our daily meals as possible. I also try to grow enough of certain veggies to satisfy our needs for the year. Since there are only 2 of us, it doesn’t mean a lot, just enough.
This year, for the first time, I’m not the only one in my neighborhood with a backyard garden, although I’m still the only preserver/canner.
Because of the nature of my garden I grow several different types of squash in proximity, so I don’t usually save seeds. But for things like my heirloom beans and tomatoes, I do.
This year, I tried some commercial packaged bean seeds. I grow bush beans to gives us lots of early yields, pole beans for later crop. Bush beans are planted several weeks apart, and this year it was commercial, commercial, and saved seed. Bottom line, saved seed gave me better yield in both quality and quantity as well as stronger growth and better germination. My seed has become the best for MY climate, all the nuances, not just the broad spectrum growing area.
I’m also growing an heirloom indeterminate roma tomato, that in the future will be my primary cooking tomato. Again, saved seed from a store bought plant 5 years ago. Aside from the blossom end rot, it is a meaty, tomato of decent size and great flavor.
Zucchini seeds can sometimes be saved if the plants flower and fruit early enough, before the other squash does. and due to the lack of bees, I can sometimes get out and manually pollinate a squash flower and then block it off from further pollination to ensure no cross breeding.