Arizona veggie gardener/advice welcome

Well, today was our first 100 d' day. The cement was hot under my feet by 1300. Time to start planning to turn under the green leafies of spring, mix in the compost, and harvest the squash. That's all happening around the fall equinox, but until then I'm just munching on the greens and training/tying my gourds to their trellises. I planted Round II of radishes, which will be the last of the season - that's the last planting I'll do until September. By then, the soil will have been cleared except for the cucurbits and herbs, if I can keep them going through summer.
I had hill/valley watering set up, but my roomate showed me how to stake and bury soaker hoses. It A) looks great and B) waters everything without evaporation loss. our water use was a horrifying 1300 avg. gallons/day last month, so finding more efficient ways to water my garden and fish pond is a top priority.
I've planted nasturtiums to help cover and cool the soil, as well as help with bugs. I made the mistake of putting my herbs in the southern row of my herb-and-vine plot, so I'm hoping I can train the watermelon up its trellis to shade them before they fry.
My morning-glory and sweet peas might fry, but we'll see - I have them under the fish pond awning.I would love to keep them all summer, or at least long enough to collect seeds. I started everybody late, but not crazy late.
I'm hoping I could get suggestions for my general timeline below, and suggestions for readable agriculture books. I'm reading Square Foot Fardening, Extreme Gardening, Sunset Beginner, and a couple of other misc gardening books. It's amazing how few books really appreciate what it's like to garden in an area with five months of 100 degree plus weather with almost no humidity or rain. Extreme Gardening is the first I've found that has solid advice and information, as well as great information on companion planting and organic gardening.
May - harvest greens June - harvest greens - turn under - train/trellis gourds, squash, etc July - clear soil of spirng crops, cover with black plastic to kill weeds and bugs August - mix in this year's compost, cover back up with plastic to kill mold, insects, and fungi September - prepare beds for winter planting - start corn, harvest cucurbits, compost the vines
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Where in Arizona are you? I lived in Yuma many, many years ago and know a bit about it. Having gone through a few Louisiana summers, I know heat and what sun does to things even with enough water.
My first advice is to shade everything. All of it. I don't care what it says about "full sun". My garden in Louisiana did fine in the shade and shriveled and died in full sun no matter how much water I put on it last summer.
Radishes this late with temps already over 100 will not be good. I would plant those in fall and early spring/winter. Same for greens.
We grew cantaloupes in Yuma back when and they did fine and were ready to harvest around July 4.
Most gardening books you find will not understand the desert.
Now, if you live in high desert you can get away with more. So, where in Arizona are you?
Loki

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Hi, There! I live in Phoenix, on an awesome irrigated property downtown. I grew up in Yuma and have fond memories of the cool little stucco houses, the sand dunes, and Mr. G's Salsa burritos.
I've put up tons of shade structures and things seem to be fine. I'm trying to learn the best way to water. I have a soaker hose lightly buried and covered with grass clippings mulch, and I watered overnight (about 80 gallons) on a slow drip. That was hmm...Friday I think - I'll have to check my gardening journal - and everything looks great.
I totally hear you about the "full sun" insrtructions. I think those people are on crack, or at least editing gardening books in front of the fire in Mass or Vermont, where the weather is just a leeeetle different.
According to the low-temperature zoning system, I'm in 10a.
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I can appreciate your temps. I'm in CA and our weather is similar to Phoenix but Phoenix gets more rain.
Your local cooperative extension will have all the answers you need. http://ag.arizona.edu/extension / http://cals.arizona.edu/pubs/garden/mg/index.html is the Arizona Master Gardening Manual (CA's Manual is AMAZING!)
I can grow all summer squash, tomatoes, cucumbers without problem... just have to make sure the watering stays on schedule.
Hope this helps! Nicole

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To conserve water, mulch, mulch, and more mulch. I like to use the b/w newspaper (at least 8 sheets thick) or cardboard if available and put compost on top. Water in the morning (less evaporation) and use soaker hoses... that way you're only watering what you want watered..
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Thanks for the great advice. I didn't know about the co-ops, I'm getting into serious gardening for the first time. I've lways piddled about with flowers, but I'm thinking bigger now :)
I mulched most of my plants with grass clippings and the rest with shredded newspaper, and it has made a tremendous difference. The soil stays cool, the water lasts longer, and the plants look better. When my compost cooks down, I'll have more, but that won't be until fall for now, the newspaper is doing the trick. Finally, a good use for all that damn junk mail!
I had considered just laying down newspaper, but I'm worried about mold or fungi growing under there. Have you had any problems with that?
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I've never had any problems with laying down layers of newspaper or cardboard. You never want your mulch right against the plant cuz it could cause rot. Enjoy gardening.. like you, I always played with flowers (annuals only) but then got into horticulture and started teaching it at an elementary school (the school has a Life Lab that contains raised garden beds 20 x 4.... about 25 plots. I LOVE gardening. There's something therapeutic about pulling weeds around plants you're growing. Anyways... enjoy. Take advantage of your cooperative extensions. They may offer master gardening classes also. Nicole

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