Growing a Backyard Garden in the Desert: Part One

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Growing a backyard garden in the desert is a tall order. We have inhospitable soil, relentless heat, and water issues.

But I have plans. Big plans.

I’m taking a forgotten play space and transforming it into my own little urban farm, and I’m inviting you to come along for the ride.

Full disclosure: I’ve tried my hand at this before. Twice. And I learned a lot about what NOT to do. Turns out, growing food is a lot more involved than I thought. But have you ever tasted a freshly-picked tomato? The flavor alone might make it worth the effort. Also, gardening with the kids creates incredible memories. Kids love getting dirty, learning how food grows, and it gets them into nature. It has benefits for adults too. Digging your fingers into soil is soothing, and there is something peaceful about growing and creating.    

Gardening is a process, so I’m breaking this up into a three-part series (I liken it to having kids):  

  1. Planning, preparation – Decide where you want the garden to go, how much room you have, what you think you’ll be able to maintain, what you’d like to grow. Purchase the containers, soil, and fertilizer. (See below for links to what I like to use) This is the pregnancy phase. You’re making space for baby, purchasing what you need to care for it, (hmm…is it a coincidence that baby’s size is compared to fruits and vegetables?), and anticipating it’s arrival. 
  2. Planting – This is the fun part! You’ve chosen your fruits, vegetable, and herbs, and now you can sit back and watch them grow. (Link below for my favorite nursery) This is the delivery phase. The baby has arrived! Look at your bundle of joy. What will the future hold for it? 
  3. Maintaining – This is the hardest part, in my opinion. It’s like the garden is in the terrible two’s. The tyrannical three’s. The sassy four’s. And you’ll fear for it’s health. Will it thrive? Flourish? What if a bully (aka a starving caterpillar) comes along? I’ve got you covered. Part three of the series will focus on how to maintain the garden and I’ll include tips and tricks. Like mulching. We’ll discuss when, what, and why.

Join me in this undertaking. Cheer me on from the sidelines, or grow a garden with me. Let’s get started!

Links:

My favorite gardening book is written by a local, so he knows what us desert dwellers are up against- Extreme Gardening: How to Grow Organic in the Hostile Desert 

Nursery where I’m going to buy all the plants: Elgin Nursery & Tree Farm 

Planter (I like these because they allow for good breathability, handles if you need to move the garden around, and come in many sizes): Smart Pots

Fertilizer: Earthworm Castings 

Soil: FoxFarm Organic

 

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