High Desert Gardening

Introduction

Why should you start your own garden? The importance of having yor own personal garden  is to have access to fruit and veggies to live a healthier lifestyle, this also lessens one’s dependence on grocery stores. You have the opportunity to control where your food comes from, how its taken care, and how it’s harvested – which call be very satisfying having peace of mind of knowing exactly what is going on with your fresh produce from start to finish. This will be a guide on how to start a raised bed gardening system within your backyard, with tips on how to maintenance it tailored to a  high altitude desert environment.

Pros Cons
SustainableWater use/ creating a watering schedule 
Fewer trips to grocery storeFinding the right seeds for the climate
Abundance in crops when choosing the right plantsStorage for harvested crops
Spend lots of time outsideInitial expense is high due to unavailability of soil
More sunny days = longer growing season  Dealing with pests  
Can almost plant year-round depending on what seeds you useInsufficient space in yard based on how much of a yield you may want
Pros & Cons of High Desert Gardening

Where to begin

Choosing the correct area and amount of space in your yard to dedicate to gardening is one of the most important steps to beginning your gardening adventure. You’ll want to choose a space  that is up against as sturdy wall, building or fence (to help with protection against wind), but also a place where each plant can receive direct sunlight. Avoid places where rainwater may collect into a puddle if growing veggies – veggies don’t enjoy soggy conditions. Besides these suggestions, a raised garden bed can be placed virtually anywhere, depending on the type of material your raised bed is made from.

Basic materials needed 

  • Buy or DIY a raised garden bed
  • Gloves
  • Hardware cloth to keep ground dwelling critters out of the garden bed
  • Landscaping fabric to keep out weeds
  • Weeding tools (in case weeds do grow)
  • Good quality soil. Soil calculator
  • Fertilizer to “feed” the soil Purpose of fertilizer 
  • Plant support: plant stakes, bamboo stakes
  • Tomato cages (not only used for tomatoes) keep heavy fruited plants from falling over or touching diseased soil and are especially helpful for windy areas
  • Garden ties or plant clips
  • Plant protection: heavy duty mesh netting, chicken wire, thin wooden boards (for hail)
  • Seeds, seedlings, or non-ripe veggies

These items can be found at local gardening stores within your city or state or large chain stores such as Lowes, Home Depot, or Walmart.

How to set up your garden

Best time to plant and what happens next

After plants begin to grow, lots of maintenance of the plants and the garden bed itself will be needed to have a happy healthy garden.

Maintenance

  • Schedule time to pull weeds (that could harm your plants) weekly or biweekly Edible & Non-Edible Weeds  
  • Set up a water schedule
  • Add layer of mulch: will reduce needing to water often and protects soil from sun
  • Don’t forget to “feed” your plants! It is recommended to add fertilizer a month after the initial planting
  • check for signs of disease and pests/ find a pest control that works best for you and your produce

Protection suggestions

Protecting your plants from animals, harsh sun and wind is the most vital thing that can be done to keep your plants happy, healthy, and thriving.

Sun:

Wind:

  • garden fleece or netting that is pegged into the ground
  • break shield with metal in a teepee form
  • having garden partly surrounded by sturdy structure such as a wall or fence

Animals:

  • chicken wire
  • electronic/soundwave fencing

Other unique ways to protect your garden from frost, wind, heat and drought  

Planting suggestions

Planting in a high desert environment can prove to be quite difficult. When trying to find plants that can thrive in this climate it is best to look for these characteristics: fleshy leaves or stems that can retain water and plants that have thick waxy layer to reduce evaporation. Overall, choose plants that can withstand the high heat of midday and the low plummeting temperatures of the night.

  • Tomatoes
  • Variety of peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Variety of squash
  • Cucumbers
  • Succulents

Additional sources to help with your gardening adventure

Detailed tips on raised bed gardening  

Wind proofing your garden  

Heat tolerant cropsDifferent crops for different temperatures

-Posted by MacKenzie

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