Arizona's hot, dry climate is ideal for growing many types of vegetables. Warm-season crops are easy to grow in the summer in desert areas. Arizona's weather also provides good year-round growing conditions for many cool-season crops.
Although the state of Arizona is a major growing region for commercial hydroponic tomatoes, this crop sometimes suffers during very hot temperatures. If you want to grow tomatoes successfully in the warmer areas of Arizona, look for early varieties that are bred for high heat. The University of Florida has developed a hybrid tomato called Solar Set, which thrives and sets fruit when the temperature goes above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Other varieties include the Roma paste tomato, Celebrity and Champion. Redwood Barn Nursery in Davis California recommends these tomatoes for hot areas because they have had success with them in the hot, dry summer climate of California's Central Valley, which is similar to parts of Arizona. In cooler parts of Arizona, tomatoes planted in April or May will do well through the summer months.
Chilies and Other Peppers
Hot peppers and bell peppers do well in hot, dry climates such as southern Arizona. The website Phoenix Tropicals recommends growing them in spring and fall if you live in one of the hottest regions. If you live in a cooler area, peppers are a good choice for the summer months. They need full sun and benefit from regular applications of fertilizer, such as fish emulsion. Spreading a 3- to 4-inch layer of organic compost on the ground around the pepper plants will help keep the soil cool and moist.
This nutritious vegetable is easy to grow in Arizona, according to Phoenix Tropicals. To succeed with this cooler season crop, plant broccoli seeds in fall and expect to harvest it in the spring. Broccoli does best in full sun, but if it gets too hot, this vegetable will sunburn and bolt to seed prematurely. It will do better at higher elevations and areas in northern Arizona.
Most varieties of eggplant do well in Arizona's desert heat and can be very productive. Choose from the traditional globe eggplant or a more unusual variety such as Japanese eggplant, which are long and narrow. Phoenix Tropicals recommends planting eggplant from starter plants in March in the hot parts of Arizona. If your region receives spring frost, wait until after the final frost before planting eggplant. If you grow eggplant in Arizona's hottest areas, be sure to keep the soil moist and feed them at least once each month with fish emulsion, mixed and applied according to package instructions.
The Arizona Master Gardeners website recommends growing spinach as a winter crop in the warmer regions of the state. You can plant this frost-hardy leafy green vegetable in late summer, late winter or early spring and harvest the nutritious greens before temperatures get too hot, which will cause spinach to bolt to seed. The cooler parts of Arizona are conducive for growing spinach in the spring and fall, but even the cooler summer temperatures of these regions will cause spinach to bolt.