Gardening in the Desert – Yep, It’s a Thing

By LandCentral
Onions growing in a desert garden
Image by Couleur from Pixabay

Gardening in the desert is often an overlooked perk of living in a desert climate. Think about it. What do garden plants love more than anything? Sunshine! And we all know the desert has no shortage of sunshine. With warm weather annually, the right space and equipment, you can grow just about anything (if you know what you’re doing, of course). That’s why we’re giving you the basics with LandCentral’s Gardening in the Desert – Yep, It’s a Thing: 

Step 1: Fix Your Soil

Soil is where it all starts. This is where your seeds will take root and absorb the proper nutrients to grow into big, beautiful plants. That’s why we’re putting this basic tip first. Baby plants and seeds need lots of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium to grow big and strong. Desert soil contains more sand, gravel and clay. Not your typical garden plant’s favorite environment. This is why you’ll need to mix it up. Add compost or other organic matter to your desert soil to give it the nitrogen and nutrients it needs. Experts recommend two inches of organic matter per year to keep things healthy.

Tip: Before you plant your garden, get your soil tested to make sure it’s got that magic cocktail of nutrients to grow healthy crops.

Bonus Tip: Since desert soil is already high in salt, try choosing a compost that doesn’t include manure.

Step 2: Choose the Right Plants

A desert garden is one of the best perks about living in the desert. Why? You get to garden all year round. Just make sure you plant the right crops for the right season:

Cool season crops (Fall/Winter):

  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Onion
  • Pea
  • Potato
  • Radish
  • Spinach
  • Turnips

Warm season crops (Spring/Summer):

  • Beans
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Melon
  • Peppers
  • Pumpkin
  • Squash
  • Corn
  • Sweet Potato
  • Tomato

Tip: Choose the right seeds by looking for heirloom seeds adapted to desert climates. If your local nursery doesn’t have them, check out Native Seeds.

Step 3: Water, Water, Water!

Your garden will require a lot of water to survive the harsh desert sun. And yes, we know the desert is quite stingy in the water department. While you can water by hand, the least expensive and most consistent option will be a drip or soaker hose irrigation system. Most gardens need at least two inches of water each week, desert plants need more during the hotter months.

Tip: Remember to water in the morning or evening. This will give your plants time to absorb the water before it’s evaporated by the sun.

Step 4: Here Comes the Sun

A healthy garden will require 6 – 8 hours of sunlight per day. Good thing you’ve got sunshine coming out of your ears. To avoid too much of a good thing, you’ll need to play God and control the amount of sun your desert garden gets. Watch the sun path over your garden and consider planting larger trees or shrubs along the perimeter or use an awning or shade cloth at certain times of day. This will ensure your garden is getting it’s healthy dose of sun but can retreat to the shade when it’s had enough.

Step 5: Don’t Forget the Mulch!

Mulch is a must have in a desert garden. Consider it a safety shield from wind, harsh weather, and weeds. It can also help keep in moisture and keep out erosion. Either buy it by the bag or save money and make your own with compost, dead leaves, or grass clippings. Simply spread it around the top of your garden soil. Trust us, your plants will thank you for it.

Bonus Tip:

Visit your local nursery – If you’re already living in a desert climate, odds are there are local desert gardening experts at your local nursery. They should be able to point you to all the sun loving plants and even how to care for them.

Now do you believe us that Gardening in the Desert is indeed a thing? If you’re lucky enough to live in a desert climate, take advantage of that glorious sunshine and plant a garden today! If you’re thinking of moving to a desert, check out these available properties from your trusted raw land expert, LandCentral. You’re welcome.

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