The start of the fall gardening season in the low desert is so exciting for a couple of reasons: 1. It’s our biggest planting season in the desert Southwest; and 2. We’re all itching to get outside and say goodbye to the oppressive heat. There are many seeds and transplants that can go into a garden bed over the next several weeks so you get a bountiful crop as fall and winter arrive.

Remember, soil prep is crucial to the success of any garden. Here are a few quick, but very important tips:

* Break up your soil to a depth of at least 12 inches – 18 inches is even better. Do not work wet soil. Moist is OK to turn, not wet.

* Work organic matter – compost –  into at least 10 inches of your soil. This loosens it and adds nutrients. If you use manure, use manure that’s from plant-eating animals and that is aged at least six months.

* You can also add fertilizers now, if you wish. Sulfer is good, gypsum helps to break up heavy soil. Turn them deeply into the soil.

* Water the area at least two feet deep.

* Let the soil rest about two weeks and then get busy planting.

Here are vegetable seeds you can plant, according to the Maricopa County Cooperative Extension planting guides:

Snap beans, bok choy, broccoli (in all its variations), Brussels sprouts, cabbages, carrots, collards, corn, cucumbers, kale, kohlrabi, lettuces (leaf varieties), leeks, mustard greens, onions, pumpkins,and  squash (summer and winter). Wait to plant head lettuces until daytime temperatures are consistently in the low 90s.

It’s a bit early for herbs and flowers, but you’ll want to get your pots and soil ready for nasturtiums and sweet peas.  Plan to put them in after Oct. 1.