usually in this desert we don’t have spring days in Feb and March and we can get a cold snap as late as July but generally don’t really start planting in the ground till at least may. Even seedlings indoors will struggle thru the nights in March. This year is different we have cool nights and warm days and it all started in Feb. Yes a couple of nights still dip in the teens but no single digit nights. I am biting at the bit to start my garden. I know a lot of my plants won’t arrive till late April or may but am thinking starting this yea, going to try and find away to garden Feb-Oct ever year.
Some of you think I know a lot about gardening and raising animals, let me tell you I don’t it has all been trail and error. Sure I grew up around animals and my parents and grandparents always had a garden but that is not the same as knowing how to admen soil, when to plant and what to plant where and which love sun and which shade etc….. I did grow a garden if you call it that in Ohio was more throw seeds in dirt and water. LOL not that simple but I didn’t do a lot to my garden in Ohio. It had good soil and I could water with a hose and faucet and who cared if water ran into the street and not on garden.
So learning to garden in a dry drought land where I haul water and ever drop must go to plants. the soil is not the rich dark lovely gold that I am use to, it is clay and sand that turns to cement when wet. I read the book square foot gardening wonderful for Ohio where only had small flower beds and a hidden corner to grow in but here have 40 acres and a family of 6 to feed not just subsidize. I remember grandpas acre garden so know a garden can be large and feed a family. another thing unexpected out here is the wind, sounds wonderfully cooling, it’s not blows up to 100 miles an hour blows the clay people call bug dust everywhere and if put topsoil down it is gone in heartbeat. it will even rip plants out of the ground.
Next I did a bit of gardening with little water research and found a wonderful site that is totally free called http://www.backtoedenfilm.com which lead me to start out with what tried next. I can’t get wood chips 120 miles into the desert so use straw as covering. Next we got horse pop from friend who was happy to give us to trailers full. Then another friend that run goat farm said could have their goat mature we layered in 3 bales of straw and added all the different types of mature from our own animals. The boys mowed lawns and we added grass clippings, we tried klyzene power and sulfur water from the hot springs to soak it all in. turning the soil only one or two times a year to make such al that goodness was getting deep enough to grow in. then we layered it again 4 inches thick and super soaked with suffer water. we let all this sit and compost for the winter, although the total composting time was closer to a year for most of it.
We will be using a pvc pipe drip system to water with and again it will be sulfur water from the hot springs near us (all the sulfur is suppose to help with the high alkane we have here). I am hoping to begin putting in the cold weather plans in March early April if at all possible.
The pathways from garden to barn are being graveled so if get any rain we won’t had to deal with the mud again this year. We don’t get much rain but the clay when wet can stick you to the spot and is huge mess to clean up after.
Again rocks are free that line the pathways and gravel is free from a hole we were digging the first year. The only hard part of this is that two disabled people hauling heavey gravel in buckets and wheel barral is taking alot of time and it has to be at least 2 inches thick. So pathways only have about 1 inch of gravel so far and is slow going.
Another problem face when gardening out here is the sun! people say oh that shouldn’t be problem gardens love sun but the sun here cooks all the plants so we are working on away to give the plants the hours of the sunlight they need but help shade the plants during the hottest part of the day in the summer.
Which lead me to research what is call a food forest and took a little from both ideas I had researched because they seem to work together well so plan to planted a peacan tree in middle back part of my first garden put the most sun loving plants in the front and those plants like broccoli, califlower and lettce I planted closer to the tree, I also planted the climbing spinach so could climb the tree. I am planting corn, cucmeber and cabbage along back fence and putting the berries I got for free along side walls. filling in the rest of garden with the other plants and herbs. As this is a test garden this year I am trying to have a large varity of plants we love planted in to see how well it goes. I may end up having to transplant things out to different areas but like always telling people this is a gaint experiment living here and will find away.
Life in the high desert can be very changlling yet I do believe that if I learn enough about the different ways of using water and fixing soil that I can make an osias out of this place.