gardening in the desert : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

My husband is now considering a move to Nevada, about an hour from Las Vegas. This is high desert terrain, very minimal water (5 inch/year), hot summers and cool winters. Can anyone tell me if it is possible to do much gardening in this environment? I know I will have to use water saving methods. Also, what types of fruits & veggies are likely to do well?

-- elle (, July 12, 2001


I lived in 29 Palms (high desert above palm Springs) and the lady next door to me had a garden. She had riged a kind of close line over her garden and hung cheep bed sheets for shade. She had all kinds of stuff. Squash grows real good in that sandy soil. You can sure compost fast out there. Oh instead of trying to keep bunnies and deer out of your garden you have to fight lizards and roadrunners hahaaaa

-- Teresa (, July 12, 2001.

shade and plenty of water. You won't do it without a well. It reached 120 in Las Vegas last week and the way things are going, who knows what it'll be like a few years from now. Even here in the semi-desert area of southern California there wouldn't be any green past the month of June if not for irrigation.

-- somebody (, July 12, 2001.

I don't mind the lizards here but these damn snails are unreal. Anywhere that's irrigated attracts them by the 100s. You can erradicate them in time but man they're like a plague in some areas.

-- somebody (, July 12, 2001.

Train the poultry to eat them. When the chickens are big enough (say three or four weeks) start giving them crushed snails in their food, graduate through partly crushed to as-they-are. Been there, done that, it works. They move on to figuring out how to get the tasty treat they've had before out of the shell (flip, stab, grab, shake vigously).

-- Don Armstrong (, July 12, 2001.

Raised beds has been my answer, and compost, mulch, compost, mulch, did I say compost and mulch? We have caliche, saline soil, and salty well water, rain cachement is in our very near future, you would be surprised how much rain you can catch with just a few inches of rain. Also, contoured xeriscape areas work well to direct the flow of rain on the ground where you want it to go. The local extension agent should have a list of varieties that do well (fruits and vegetables). Good luck!!!

-- Gina NM (, July 12, 2001.

I lived in Southwest Texas for 6 1/2 years, and was always growing something. Had to water like crazy, though. Brought in truck loads of muck from the local feedlot, and then mixed it in with spagnum moss. I grew tomatoes from February to December. The surprise was how well artichokes grew there. They were great. Good luck.

-- Julie (, July 12, 2001.

I don't know about growing in the desert, but I had a garden in FL and my garden was all sand, drought and hot hot weather. The only way I got a decent garden to grow was to start in the fall around Sept/Oct.

The sun wasn't as hot at that time of the year and the plants didn't get as stressed out (neither did I). It took me a long time to get the soil built up any at all but when it finally took it did all right.

-- Stephanie Nosacek (, July 13, 2001.

As the previous answers stated, lots of water and canopy shade. Raised beds and vermicompost topsoil do wonders to improve soil. On the bright side, building your own garden plot will help minimize weeds. Read Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholemew. His techniques using 1 gallon of water per 4x4 foot area would definately benifit your situation.

-- Jay Blair in N. AL (, July 14, 2001.

have seen some success with bucket gardening also. tomatoes, beans, cucumbers on trellis do pretty good in buckets and it conserves water good. about those snails.. I've read that they were introduced here from France in the 1850s for food. What a mess they are now.

-- somebody (, July 14, 2001.

For anyone growing fruit trees in the desert, june bugs are more of a problem than birds, especially for peach trees. I now sew several large pieces of strong white netting together and completely cover my trees using clothespins to secure it firmly around the trunk and repair any tears in the netting. The wind did not tear this off, the cows don't know what to make of this big white "hat" and leave it alone from the other side of the fence and the june bugs and birds cannot hurt my peach crop. Last year after thinning, I harvested over 400 peaches on an 8 yr old tree. I do prune the tree to keep is compact and manageable. Hope this helps others.

-- Shirley Millar (, July 14, 2001.

I am trying to build up a garden in a desert. I lovr this desert climate that I am in. I love the cool nights the beutieful sunsets, the clear stary nights, ect. ect. I could do with out the wind and sand storms. But we get through them. 1 thing that has not been mentioned is different kinds of things that will naturauly grow in the desert. I read about corn and berrys that grow in the desert years ago before I moved here. I plan to do some reserch to find as many things as I can that will grow basicaly with out water. Things that do well here are blackeyed peas, okra, onions. We are not alowed to water any thing here our lakes are dry. I do not have well water yet We well have to go very deep for a well. I am having my house re plumbed, all the gray water except for the toilet will go into the garden. When I find more info on desert veg. and friut. I will let you know. But dont hold your breath. I am very very buisy. Lisa

-- Lisa in west TX. (, July 14, 2001.

you might try tepary or anasazi beans-they originally came from the desert!

-- Mitzi Giles (, July 15, 2001.

I grew up in West Texas. I remember when planting trees we would bury a length of pipe three to four feet deep next to the seedling. Instead of watering the suface, we would water the pipe which of course watered deeply and didn't allow much evaporation and acted as support for the young tree.

-- Jerry (, July 16, 2001.

Last year, my wife and I had a helluva time harvesting our peppers and tomatoes, with the birds and bugs getting about 30% of the harvest. Had to water like crazy too, with the blazing south Texas sun and all.

This year, we made a three 'hoops' of 3/4" pvc (our garden is only about 15'-0" long by 10'-0" wide), and covered it with that orange construction fence you see in job sites, that plastic job keeping foot traffic out of the site. The fencing was made to be outdoors for long periods of time, is cheap ($14.00 dollars for 100 feet x 4' wide). It looks stupid, I'll be the first to admit, but birds are kept out, and the fencing provides just enough shade while allowing just enough sunlight to get through for the plants.

Now as for the bugs, I'm gonna have to go hand to hand for them buggers . . .

-- j.r. guerra (, July 16, 2001.

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