After my first failed attempt at growing a desert garden, I wondered what the secrets were.
I dug into the garden magazines that seemed to hold most of the answers for the general gardener… but not the desert types. A call to my favorite gardener friend revealed that my methods did not tale into consideration how to conserve water.
Desert plants know how to do this. They developed adapted surfaces of their leaves for absorbing light, protecting the skin from too much sunlight, and conserving water. I had to do the same.
My best start was taking the garden area and raising the beds with wooden beams, or hay bales. Placing them in a rectangular pattern and filling the void with rich soil would keep the water from draining away too quickly.
The Benefits of a Raised Bed
The raised beds also protected the tender roots from rodents. They apparently aren’t smart enough to burrow over and up into a specific point.
I can just see the plants lifting their roots up while a mole burrowed past. A raised bed also makes it easier for the gardener to tend to a few weeds, cull seedlings, and hand till the soil.
What seemed like a miserable chore, was now fun to sit and weed and check on the baby garden. My water use remained lower than I had predicted, and my crops grew.
Even on those days of high winds, a little extra watering helped keep their young roots in the soil. And on days when the temps reached over 100 degrees, I would water several times a day to keep them from dehydrating.
Here’s a clever idea from a gardener in Florida, who keeps her cucumbers in partial shade by lifting and growing a frame of veggie vines over them.
Over all, my garden survived. I’ve learned some tricks and clever ways to outsmart the devastating desert sun while conserving water, too.
I had a harvest of decent proportions, and I could actually share some of my extra bounty with neighbors who stopped to ask me how I did it.
I’m not really a “Green Thumb’ … but I’m not a “Brown Thumb” either.