>U Mom Knows Best: How To Garden In the Southwest Desert

Monday, April 19, 2021

How To Garden In the Southwest Desert

 Growing a garden in the desert can be hard but it can be done

  I have entertained the thought of growing vegetables in my backyard many times over the past 20 years that I have lived in the Southwest. When I realized the amount of water and time needed to grow plants in the desert of New Mexico, I never followed through. Then a crazy virus pandemic happened in the year 2020 and I decided to try my luck at growing veggies in my backyard. Everyone else was planting a garden and I decided to join the garden craze of the year 2020.

I had time on my hands and it was great therapy

 My family thought that I was nuts as the lack of rain here in New Mexico makes growing anything but weeds hard. I had time on my hands due to the crazy stay-at-home orders that our state had implemented. Once I started the process of gardening, I discovered that it was helping me cope with this lung virus pandemic. Preparing the soil for my garden required lots of work as the desert soil is made up of sand and rocks. So I started a compost pile to help make my dirt better. I also did my research and discovered what plants grow best in the desert soil.

Plants that grow best in the desert

+ Tomatoes

+ Kale

+ Peppers

+ Beets

+ Squash

 Since my backyard was full of rocks and weeds, I did not have a spot that I could start a garden in. Most of the yard had black plastic to kill the weeds. So I decided to use a small area of dirt by the house. I planted my garden from seeds as vegetable plants were hard to find. I planted kale, spinach, and beets. Then later in the summer, I found a tomato plant and a pepper plant on sale at the garden center of Lowes.

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Growing plants in the desert requires watering twice a day

 After watering the seeds for 2 weeks, I was amazed to see plants sprouting in the dirt. I had to water the plants twice a day as it does not rain much in the desert. Like I said, I had time on my hands and watering was helping with my anxiety as it was calming. After 2 months of twice-daily watering sessions, I had grown kale, spinach, and beet greens. I only grew beet greens and not beets as the rocky soil prevented the beets from growing. I was excited to pick fresh greens for dinner from my garden.

  My pepper and tomato plants did not grow that well. I even had an episode of plucking big hairy caterpillars off my pepper plant after they ate all the leaves. So I was glad when I was blessed with tomatoes from my church food pantry. My favorite way to cook the tomatoes was roasted tomatoes in the air fryer

No-dig garden method

 Since I was successful with growing green vegetables, I decided to expand my garden this year. I needed a bigger plot of dirt to grow more vegetables. So I decided to use the space beneath the swingset. I knew that the swingset frame could be used for plant support for the cucumbers and green beans. The only problem was all the gravel under the swingset.

 I started to clear away the rocks but quickly learned that the small rocks went deep into the ground. So I did my research and discovered the no-dig garden method. Instead of removing rocks or grass for a garden space, you simply layer big pieces of cardboard on the grass or rocky area. I had plenty of cardboard so, with cardboard and bricks, I created a space for my new garden.

Buy garden soil and start a compost pile

 One of the best tips for gardening in the Southwest desert is to purchase garden soil. Most dirt in the desert is sandy and filled with rocks. So buying garden soil will help your plants grow better. I also suggest starting a compost pile. Compost is decomposed vegetable matter you can make yourself. You can also purchase compost. Mixed in with the soil, it adds nutrients. 

 Composting does take several months but it is a great way to recycle things like food scraps, grass clippings, paper, and other items. You can buy a special compost container or use a kiddie pool. I had an old kiddie pool that had cracks on the bottom so it was perfect for my compost pile. I made sure to place my compost far away from the house as a compost pile can attract bugs. 

Seeds or plants?

 Whether to start your garden with seeds or plants is up to you. A package of vegetable seeds will be cheaper than buying plants. Last year I used seeds for my kale, spinach, and beets. I tried starting my tomato plants from seed but they did not grow. So this year I bought several tomato plants. I also bought a peach tree. Then I attended a Lowes garden event and received two kale plants.

 My library also had a seed giveaway and I purchased other seeds. I decided to experiment with a variety of vegetable seeds and herbs to see what will grow best in New Mexico. I planted the herb seeds in the brick holes since they don't need much room. My seeds have been in the dirt for about a week so nothing has sprouted. So far my tomato plants are thriving.

 Time will tell about the success of my garden in the Southwest desert. That and plenty of water. I will do my part of twice a day watering. I sure do hope that my new garden space gives me plenty of veggies. In a couple of months, I will update this post with my garden photos. 

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  I was thankful that I had my homeopathic medicine for my allergies. Being outside made my seasonal allergies flare up but using Bioron allergy products helped my body with eliminating the sneezing, itchy watery eyes, running nose, and hives. Seasonal allergies are a part of spring and summer for me. I like that I can use natural products to relieve my allergy symptoms. 

What are you growing in your garden?





17 comments:

  1. It is growing season here so I have to think about a vegetable garden. Your ideas are so good but here in the east it tends to rain a lot in spring.

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  2. I wish I could grow stuff. I tend to kill all plants. I never meant to, but it is just what happens.

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  3. I love having a garden. We have garden beds, which are really nice. I want to get a few more and plant some more this summer.

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  4. I love this so much! I lived in California and I ended up having a potted garden I loved!

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  5. Your information about growing things in the dessert inspired me to do a little gardening in my home on the east coast of the US.

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  6. I would struggle if I lived in the desert knowing you have to water it more times. I barely can handle our tiny garden here in Illinois.

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  7. You did a great job! I don't have a green thumb and I couldn't achieve planting like this even with the best of soil and water. Hehe

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  8. I don't have a yard, so a garden isn't an option for me right now. But I did enjoy it when I had one.

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  9. Now gardening in a desert is one feat for sure but you guys are somehow making it work for you.

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  10. Having a garden is definitely therapeutic. I don't have a vegetable garden, but I do have a flower garden. -LYNNDEE

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  11. These are great tips for gardening in this specific geographic region. Some of these tips apply to other part of the country too for sure. I love gardening so much

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  12. It sounds like your 2020 garden was a success! We have lots of rain in our area, but unfortunately, most of our yard is shade. I enjoy growing my flowers and perennials, but I wish we had a nice vegetable garden too.

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  13. I love these tips. This post makes me want to get outside and prep my own gardens.

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  14. Love these tips, we too working on raised bed for vegetables. Looks like you had great green thumb.

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  15. This sounds like a good solution to garden in these hard conditions. It's definitely easier using your tips!

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  16. These are some really great tips! I can imagine how tough gardening is down these.

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  17. I love gardening, but I live in the Northeast, so it is interesting to hear how much it differs!

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