Growing veggies in the desert can be a challenge, but if you follow some tried-and-true methods to combat the hot, dry, and windy conditions, you can rest assured that a bountiful harvest is still possible. For success growing in the desert it will be important to always keep in mind the environmental factors that influence the growth of each plant. The best way to start your organic home gardening off right is with seeds that have been specifically adapted to the unique and harsh desert climate.
After getting the seeds you plan to use in your garden, the next thing to worry about is the soil. Because the natural soil of the desert is full of sand, gravel, and clay, it is imperative to use organic compost as a foundation for healthy growing. The other giant thing your soil will need is plenty of water. The desert’s incredibly arid climate not only affects the plants at their roots, but also affects the plants ability to draw water in through their leaves. It may seem logical that your plants need watering the most during the hottest portion of the day, but this is inaccurate. The best time to water your plants is in the early morning or in the evening. Watering your veggies while it is still cool outside will prevent excess evaporation and will allow water to rundown into the soil, reaching the roots. Finding organic mulch such as straw, pulled weeds, or grass clippings will also aid in holding moisture, protecting soil, and keeping weeds down.
Finally, desert gardeners must pay close attention to the sun and wind to generate a fruitful yield. The desert sun can literally fry your vegetables, especially in the high desert where increased altitude intensifies the UV rays hitting your garden. Companion planting (also used to safeguard plants from harmful pests) is a great and natural way to combat the harsh sun rays and works by shading low-growing plants by growing taller plants around them. Although companion planting may also provide some defense against the wind, it is strongly advised to create windbreaks like walls, fences, or simply placing straw bales around your garden. Shelter from the wind is especially important for high desert gardens where it just takes one strong gust to lay your plants out flat.
Growing your own food in an extreme climate can be a bit intimidating, but it is absolutely doable by simply adding a few tips and tricks to your desert gardening arsenal!