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Can You Really Garden in the High Desert?

I made a plan for my first garden bed years ago.

Source: via Karyn on Pinterest


I was determined to make  produce I could eat and share with my family and neighbors. I fenced out rabbits from my plot of land. I dug up the heavier rocks and raked and turned until thought I had a decent bed to start. I then made a deal with the groundskeepers at the local park that I could collect their lawn and leaf trimmings. I hauled a small trailer home full of the bicrobes I thought I could use.

I raked and tilled, mulched and watered. I knew that in this virgin soil, nothing would grow for the first year. So I tended the soil and added some amendments that I had read about. True to their word, they recommended that planting in the Fall would be better for a sound crop; I only planted two rows of potatoes starters. The bitter winds of Winter made gardening brutal. I was on a water tank system, still am, so each time I watered, I paid more attention to how much absorbed into the ground.

I watered and tested my young spud plants until early Spring.
You know all of those gardening magazines arrive in your mail boxes in January just to whet your keen edge for a voluptuous garden …

the dream garden. I devoured each page.

By early February, after the frost, I planted several rows of green onions,
yellow onions, garlic and some pepper plants. I even planted marigold plants
between rows to discourage bugs and worms. I was on my way to having a
“green thumb”, or so I thought. But the desert had different ideas.

It seems that while I was developing the soil and strengthening the PH
balance, diligently following the master gardener’s insider hints, the desert
was killing off my dreams.

The first early shoots of my potato plants withered. The onion rows sprouted
a feet high but when I pulled a few, no onions! Even my “anyone can
grow” marigolds refused to send out roots. The first wind that came along
blew them right out of the ground! And the horn worms that attack tomato plants
had made a night raid and wiped out my two feeble pepper seedlings.

It seems that the lack of humidity in the ground, even with my diligent
watering, was not enough to grow a garden. The rodents conspired to burrow



under my rows and finish off my harvest long before it showed above ground.
And, for all of my watering, it seems that it all percolated down and away from
my baby garden.

By the time I expected to harvest early onions and garlic… I found two …
yes, two onions. No Garlic.

So I am the Brown Thumb gardener. I still buy my produce from the strore. I
still have my garden outside my window. Now I grow rustic antique cultivators,
harrow row rakes, steel wheels, and antique hand plows … the basic elements
of a gardener’s tool collection when the tools brought great harvests to more fortunate gardeners.

Rusty LaGrange

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