Planning the Garden

Planting in the desert is hard.  Like super.freaking.hard. The weather has been all over the place, too. We were super cold, I had all the trees covered and heat lamps set up for the tropical ones. Then, boom. High 70’s. Everything started budding and flowering. Our winter garden started shooting flowers up.

It was an all out hustle to get the garden area cleared of all the cactus. The plan was to begin planting the third week in February. And did my husband hustle…Oh man, did he. We were able to borrow our neighbors tractor to clear the cholla cactus and level out the ground. There was no auger on the tractor so, post hole digging it was. He was able to do all of that within three days. You should have seen all the cactus! So.many.cactus. Have you seen cholla cactus, it’s evil, its nasty, and it was everywhere! But, that was a great spot for a garden and a little secluded behind a large ironwood tree. It has turned out to be a very peaceful spot. I am pretty excited about it. 

But our adventure continues because, this week the temperatures have plummeted to just above freezing at night. So we have had to hold off on planting for another week. My feelings are mixed about all this. My poor husband busted his butt to get that cleared and the fence up around it… I really didn’t want to tell him about the upcoming temperatures this week. He sprained his wrist and is now wearing a brace because of it. Oh man. I should have looked at the temps for the following week before we started. But it’s in and it’s almost done.That is one less thing we have to worry about.

The soil in the area was pretty good for the desert. I was surprised but we will still need to amend the soil and add Woodchips to protect the soil and keep as much moisture in as we can. This is where I have suddenly and unexpectedly smacked face first into a road block. The best place in town, that I know of, is out of compost and are at least three to four weeks out. There is no way I am buying compost from a big box store in tiny bags… I need 15 cubic yards. 15. What the heck am I going to do now? And the wood chip place, I’ve been on a list for five weeks already and nothing, I just had to renew my request… 

We have a neighbor to our north that has two horses and she has offered to shovel manure over our fence into a wheelbarrow… Do I get manure from her to help amend the soil, wait it out for the wood chips and hope that it will all be ready for the winter garden? (I will say, winter out here is MUCH easier to grow things). That option is not my first choice, I was so excited to get this garden going but, I am also not interested in paying more than we need to, to accomplish this. Getting the neighbors horse manure might be our only option at this point.

Planting this year can still happen. Just not where I was hoping.

We have a small raised bed garden to the east side of our house that I can still do some early spring planting in, while we work on the soil in the main garden. My plan for the raised garden was to grow herbs for cooking and teas but, here we are. East Garden becomes early spring garden again.

Next year east garden, its me and you, and a whole bunch of herbs. It will be lovely. Till then, this year I will focus on how I will shade you from the harsh sun.

But like I said, planting in the desert is hard. It’s hot, the soil is barren, the sun is intense, and it is dry. Why are we trying to homestead here when there are sooooo many other places to go. There are so many places that we could go and not have to worry about water or acidic soils.  What are we doing here? Ha! We ask ourselves this question pretty often. I must admit though, its sure is nice here in the winter.