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Essential Tools for the High Desert Gardener

Pink Cactus Flower

My Garden Pink Cactus Flower

Growing a garden in the high desert requires owning a few necessary tools. Consider these tasks when choosing essentials for a new garden:

  • pulling weeds
  • planting flowers, vegetables, shrubs and trees
  • raking leaves
  • watering
  • composting

Gardeners have favorite tools they can’t live without. My list of favorites is based on comfort and gardening in the high desert.

NOTE: This post contains affiliate links which means if you click on them and make a purchase, I make a commission. This doesn’t cost you anything additional. These commissions help to keep the rest of my content free, so thank you!


You can never have too many pairs of garden gloves. When glove shopping, don’t let the pretty ones deceive you. Cheap ones are priced low for a reason. The least water and dirt will cause quick wear and tear on them.

Cheap Gloves

$2-$3 Gloves

Pretty and pink means little when purchasing the best gloves. However, go ahead and get those pretty ones you have your eyes on if it means you need a little comfort to make you feel good.

Choose pretty pink (or whatever your favorite color is) and invest in another pair of durable gloves as well. You’ll know you didn’t choose the most durable ones when you get stuck with desert prickly foxtails.

Two brands of gloves that have held up for awhile for me or that I like are Digz and Mud. has a set of pretty Digz women’s garden gloves
and are bright colors if you are looking for pretty ones.

Even the Digz gloves get worn out like mine did with holes in the finger tips. My Digz gloves and the pretty pink ones gave out, so I purchased another pair that are blue and made by Mud. Just the name “Mud” made me think they might hold up better with water and dirt. We’ll see.

Digz Garden Gloves

Women’s Digz Garden Gloves

Garden gloves made by Mud

My Mud Gloves










Digging in the dirt, planting, watering or strolling through the garden to check on the new sprouts of green popping up will make you lose your sense of time. It’s a refreshing like you can’t imagine. So grab your hat before walking out the door because when you walk into your garden world, you’ll forget all about protecting your skin basking in the sun.

Colors of the garden inspire. Colorful hats do, too. Pick up a new summer hat for your mornings and evenings in the garden.

Hula Hoe

I haven’t met anyone who loves weeding – unless it’s to get your exercise quota in for a day. The kind I use is the inexpensive basic hula hoe, but I’ve seen some that cost more and that are bigger. It seems like to me the bigger one, though the cost is more, might make a weeding job a tad bit easier. That’s a thought for starting my next gardening tool list.


Trowels are handy when planting flowers, herbs and vegetables, whether in the ground or containers. Traditional trowels with long, narrow blades work well for digging and planting. I’ve used the traditional type for scooping out soil from a bag to transport to pots. Every time I spill the soil. So a wide deep-dish blade works better for transplanting soil. Shop online or at your local hardware store to choose the best for your needs. Choose your favorite, the traditional, ergonomic or a type of garden trowel that fits all of your needs.


When the summer season ends, it’s a good idea to own a rake. A friend visited my desert place and commented, “I’ve never seen a rake like that.”

Thinking she was referring to my mini rake (a very handy little tool to have) that helps when scooping a pile of leaves, I turned to see what she was pointing at. She was talking about my big sweep rake. It made me curious about types of rakes. I did an online research and discovered that there are all kinds of rakes I wasn’t even aware of.


Working in the garden, especially when weeding with the hula hoe, can cause many foxtails to stick through flimsy shoes. A good pair of durable garden clog shoes is worth keeping around.


A kinking hose when watering is the most aggravating thing about gardening – with the exception of critters eating from the garden. The kinking problem, however, can be easily solved by purchasing a pocket hose like the one below.

You may can tell that my favorite garden item is gloves. However, all of these items are important for all gardeners.

Got a favorite garden tool you can’t do without? I’d like to hear about it. Tell me in the comment section on this page.

Happy Gardening!

Gardening Inspiration and Poetry

Flowers in Sinks

Herb Sink Gardening

April has been an interesting month for me because of dealing with vertigo. It’s been a new experience. Extreme spinning happens at hearing acute noises, seeing movements, or just sitting in a chair. One thing that has helped, however, is simply watering the garden, planting seeds, or pulling weeds. Every chance, whether twenty to thirty minutes or an hour spent in the garden, is a wonderful relief from vertigo episodes that last for hours or a whole day.

Spending time in the garden is the thing I like most about spring. Planting flowers, herbs and vegetables inspires the soul. Not only is it therapeutic. It’s an excellent way to get physical exercise.

Basil, pepper, and tomato plants were planted early this month. Seeds I’ve planted so far include beets, broccoli, chives, cilantro, dill, carrots, okra, peas and nasturtiums. Herbs such as lavender, lemon balm, lovage, mint and rosemary are already growing fast in my garden. Kitchen gardens are handy to grow. When cooking up a vegetable or marinating chicken, you just step outside the kitchen door, snip off a handful of herbs, rinse them and add to whatever you’re cooking.

April is National Poetry Month, and is hosting a poetry contest on the theme of “Place”. Co-hosting this contest is Poet Mary Langer Thompson, author of “Poems in Water”.

Inspire us with your own garden poetry. Why not write a poem about your favorite flowers and herb or vegetable garden? Write about your memories of your mother’s or grandmother’s garden.

Tomorrow is the deadline for submitting poems. Poems submitted for the contest will be considered for publishing on The contest details are listed on our High Desert Events page. Find out more by reading Poet Mary Langer Thompson’s “April is Poetry Month” blog post published April 1, 2015.

Since I love gardens, I can’t wait to read any gardening poems that come in for the contest. Hurry and submit your poems. You have until 11:59 pm, Monday, April 20, 2015 to email us your contest submissions. Don’t forget to read the details listed on our site, then email the poems to

One more thing about the contest – it’s FREE to enter! Not only that, we’re giving prizes to the winners. It’s our way of saying thank you for the comments you give us and for reading our blog.

Last Few Weeks Left of Fall Harvesting Before Freeze

If you are working your Fall Garden, it’s just about time to do the last harvesting before the freeze. Temperatures in the High Desert have been swinging lower at night. Then I came across this scarecrow that couldn’t scare a fly. Her days are over. But she’s still cute.

A Softer, Gentler “Shoo-crow” in the Morning

This can't be a scarecrow, so it must be a shoo-crow

This can’t be a scarecrow, so it must be a shoo-crow

What self-serving crow would take flight in fear when facing this adorable representation. I found this on the Internet last Autumn and it reminded me of the toddler-sized dancing rag dolls where children could slip their feet into an elastic band on the doll’s feet.

Who wouldn’t want to dance across the grassy yard with a light-footed blonde, and constantly beaming, partner, who knew all your steps. Yes, I had one, though it belonged to my younger sister, I would gleefully spin across the lawn under the English walnut tree. She didn’t have the same dancing images that I did. And, although I was a bit embarrassed to be dancing with a doll while nearly teen-aged, it seemed that the doll inspired me to just go for it.

Yet, here it was, attempting to scare away ravenous birds who just wanted to dive into the garden.

Scarecrows have been around in some form since Egyptians first netted their fields to catch flocks of quail in their fields. Greeks and Romans were the earliest to use human -styled scarecrows. In the Medieval era when anything that vexed you had to be demonic or sent by some evil-worshipping villager, they were using children as bird scarers.

Even as the Pilgrims were preparing their first meal with the First Americans, who taught them survival skills, the farmers were using what they knew from decades earlier. They had time to grow European corn and potatoes and carrots to offer at the first harvest dinner. The natives offered maize, squashes, and seeds, berries, and nuts , as well as fish, watercress, lobster, dried fruit, clams, venison, and plums. But, funnily enough, there is no research listing actual turkey but other fowl arrived on the platters.

Planting, tending, weeding, watering, and harvesting, while keeping the critters at bay, was a full-time job. And whether you were Native or New Englander, each harvest was the indicator of whether your village would store enough food and be strong enough for the encroaching winter.

Most crows would look twice before landing

Most crows would look twice before landing

Even in the Southwest, scarecrows were employed in the New World, too. Some tribes used young boys to tend the flocks and scare birds by throwing rocks at them. Others used woven reed and yucca to hang a variety of feathers, sticks and bones that clacked.


Creative and a bit punkish

Creative and a bit punkish

A scarecrow swaying and flapping in the breeze was, and continues to be, a deterrent for most animals, not just hungry crows. Think about your garden scarecrow. Is it a collection of tin pie plates hung from cords in the trees? Whirligigs are often spinning in the garden, then after the harvest season, can be found on porches and front yards. Do you stuff an old tattered pair of jeans and a flannel shirt? Or do you get creative and invent a new version like the young lady shoo-away scarecrow?

One of friends placed soft and rancid pumpkins around the edge of her garden to deter daytime garden invaders, but I think she had more night visitors that were attracted to the odors.

Let us know what you do in your garden when it’s time to plant your scarecrow.


A Memorial Day Week in the Desert

What might one do on a Memorial Day weekend at a desert cabin? I looked up events in the high desert and didn’t see much going on. Owning a cabin in the desert, however, can present plenty to do for someone who loves gardening. The long weekend started off Friday afternoon with important errands. Then the fun began.


Saturday morning I made coffee for the hubby and me then opened the French door curtains and was greeted by a visiting family of a cat and her kittens. I hadn’t even cooked breakfast yet. They were hungry like us, so I made myself busy preparing a meal.
















I made omelets and iced coffee drinks for us and freshly cooked sweet potatoes for the kittens. It was a hit – at least with the kittens. Mama Cat snubbed her nose at it after a few bites, or maybe she was testing the food to see if it was safe for her little ones.

The omelets and frothy iced coffee made the perfect kick of energy for starting off the day.


Iced Coffee












Kitchen Herbs

The holiday week continued with one of my favorite things to do – herb gardening. I like to keep a garden of perennial herbs handy for cooking in the kitchen. Last year I planted a perennial herb that I thought surely wasn’t going to make it. However, it’s taking off quickly this spring and growing as fast as my weeds are. One thing puzzled me, though. I couldn’t find the tag with the information on which herb it is. I took a picture and showed it to a friend. She said it looked like a Lovage herb and told me to see if the leaves smell like celery. Sure enough, it’s a Lovage herb. It smells just like celery.


Lovage Perennial Herb












Other herbs, fruits, and vegetables planted included strawberries, stevia, lavender and garlic given to me by Pattie over at The garlic is planted with the green roots sticking up out of the ground. Oh my, it is taking off really fast. I had never planted garlic before, so I’m excited about how fast it’s growing. There are more vegetables already planted earlier in the spring. Come back for another visit to catch up on the vegetables and flowers.

Have you planted a kitchen herb garden? Which herbs have you been successful with?

Join me over at Fishtail Cottage’s blog garden party.

Time to channel my inner gardner

Source: viaMonica on Pinterest


High Desert gardening seems to be on everyone’s mind lately. When should we start planting? What kind of vegetables should you grow? Do you follow the instructions on Pintrest/Google or the advice of your friends and family? And do you need a blueprint to get started?

Raised Beds

Honestly, go with your gut. A couple years ago my hubby and I started our first garden in a raised bed. Apparently, it was the best thing to do in the high desert because it helps the plants retain water and we were able to add vitamin rich soil to the beds. I found out later this was the way to go in our area when I was researching alternative gardening options.

Serendipity? I’ll take it.

In January, I cleaned my established raised bed and started
panicking a little bit about the strange weather we were having. I was
concerned about it impacting my gardening plans. But we went ahead and planted our seeds a couple weeks ago.

We also added large plastic tubs for a few other crops. One of those alternative gardening options.) They were less expensive than ceramic planters and less work than building another raised bed. We hit up a local dairy farm for the free fertilizer piled out front and got to work.

The tubs are for the strawberry plants, tomatoes, chilies, and carrots. We kept the squash, lettuce, cucumbers, and snow peas in the raised bed.

Now it’s just a matter of watering our precious crops, killing the weeds, and patiently waiting for our harvest to grow.

…it’s been almost two weeks; I’m already tired of waiting.

Patience by Krista Huot

You Really CAN Grow a Garden in the High Desert: Part Two

After my first failed attempt at growing a desert garden, I wondered what the secrets were.

Source: via Nicole on Pinterest


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.

Rusty LaGrange

If you like what you see here, visit me at:

Putting my garding plans into action

Is it me or has winter been a little strange in the high desert 
this year? The stormy clouds, frigid winds, and low temperatures are competing with the cheerful sunshine and 70+ degree days. I don’t know if I should wear shorts and t-shirts or bundle up in jeans and sweaters. I wonder if this weird weather will have any impact on spring and delay my plans for a garden this year.

I’ve ordered my seeds, tilled the soil, and I’m ready to go. I’m a novice so I really have no idea what I’m doing. But we planted a garden a couple years ago and cucumbers and tomatoes grew like gangbusters. Thank God, Mother Nature and my grandmother knew what to do because we sure didn’t. And when my grandmother couldn’t answer our questions there was always Google. (Don’t laugh; you know you do it too.)

This year, I’m going to do big things. I’m going to attempt to grow snow peas, chili peppers, squash, and lettuce. This is in addition to the cucumbers, tomatoes, and strawberries. I contemplated growing corn but I think it might be too much. I saw pictures on the internet of corn stalks being grown in large tub containers and I was immediately enthralled by the idea.

My hubby and son just laughed. They aren’t getting involved this year. I think the corn might have frightened them. I wonder if I should start looking at tractors, not anything big. Just a small one…

For more information or to get to know Just a HD Mom you can follow me on Twitter @MGEdwardsWrites and/or join my blog

Frugal Living on Mother’s Day Weekend

Frugal things to do on Mother’s Day in the High Desert

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers reading High Desert Blogging today! Do something fun for yourself today. If it’s a lean time for you, fun can include frugal ways to enjoy this beautiful day. I’ll begin with a few ideas. But do me a favor, and add your own list in a comment. Let’s see how many ideas we can come up with. Here goes:

  1. Plant flowers to honor your mother – or just because you love flowers.
  2. Put a cutting off of a another plant into a glass of water.
  3. Sit outside in a chair in the shade for at least half an hour and just listen to birds.
  4. Make iced tea and take your favorite magazine to a chair; sit awhile and enjoy your tea and magazine.
  5. Walk around the block with a friend and enjoy all the neighbors’ flowers.
  6. Wear your favorite clothes.
  7. If your mother is deceased, sit down and write a letter to her and tell her how much you love and miss her.
  8. Light your favorite candle, or burn your favorite incense.
  9. Spray your favorite fragrance inside your house.

Who will make the next comment? Invite your friends to comment on this blog post today. Many mothers don’t have their children near, and many daughters don’t have their mothers with them anymore. It helps to have friends to make this day special and sweet. We can make each other smile today with pleasurable ways to enjoy the day.

This morning I planted flowers in honor of my dearest mother and mother-in-law who are no longer with us. Flowers always made them both smile. Planting flowers brings joy and happy memories to me – and I smile.


Spring Rain Flowers in the High Desert

Raindrops from spring showers bring out the beauty in desert flowers.

The recent High Desert rain reminded me to check my flowers and plant for raindrops. It’s a simple pleasure that I find in gardening – looking for raindrops on the flowers after a rain shower.

First I noticed the California Poppy Plant had grown huge in a very short time. Incidentally, these plants grow fast and are easy to plant. All I did to make this plant grow was to place every little stem with leaves back into the dirt, gave it a little time and rain, and here it is:

California Poppy Plant

Then I saw the lovely poppies and wondered if I might by chance see any raindrops. YES! There was one with a raindrop that was big enough to see on the camera.

California Poppies with Raindrops

Right next to the little poppies are the irises. These are the royal looking maroon and gold ones, and LOTS of raindrops covered this one beauty.

The High Desert is known for its extreme hot and cold seasons, but the irises and California poppies grow well in this climate. Other flowers that commonly grow well here include roses, pansies (in cooler weather), lavender, and salvia.

Which flowers have you been successful with in your High Desert garden? Take a moment to comment. I’d love to hear about your garden flowers.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

High Desert Home Show in Victorville, CA


There is still time to run on over to the High Desert Home Show today, Sunday April 15, 2012, at the Victorville Fairgrounds.  It’s open until 5:00 PM today!  John and I went for a couple of hours yesterday afternoon and it was fantastic.  Cindy Poore, our good friend that is a Landscape Specialist with Perfection Landscape in Phelan, CA gifted us with VIP tickets to come to the Home Show.  We had originally planned to go on Friday but with the high winds and pouring rain we decided to go Saturday instead.

There were lots of vendors and great educational displays that were so inspiring to us.  We are “chomping at the bit” to implement all the things that we learned about yesterday at the High Desert Home Show.  To read more about this great Home Show and some of the vendors there, visit Marti Muses and Marvels blog, another High Desert Blogger from Phelan.

Comments Welcome.

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