High Desert Gardening and Water Conservation - Knowledgebase Question

Redlands, CA
Avatar for charles6000
Question by charles6000
March 13, 1998
I live in the high desert in California and it gets very hot during the summer months. Can you recommend techniques on types of vegetables and watering methods best suited for the high desert? Please don't say that I need to grow catus or dates as I really don't like them. I like your magazine!

Answer from NGA
March 13, 1998
Concentrate on growing heat-loving vegetables, such as eggplant, summer squash, cukes, corn, tomatoes, beans, peppers, melons, pumpkins & winter squash. Native Americans in the High Desert of the Southwest devised a moisture-conserving planting method that works well even today. Sink your garden beds a few inches into the ground, and build soil berms around the planting beds. Your beds will catch rare rainwater, make best use of your irrigation, and berms create a barrier to protect seedlings from drying winds. Mulch plants with a thick layer of straw, old hay, or other organic matter - this keeps soil cool and maintains moisture. Deep rich soil (at least 12") encourages deep rooting and more drought-resistant plants. Grow varieties labeled "drought- and heat-resistant", such as Burpee's 'Heat Wave II' tomato. I also recommend a book, "Pat Welsh's Southern California Gardening: A Month-by-Month Guide" (Chronicle Books, San Francisco; ISBN# 0-87701-629-1). Hope this helps you grow a successful summer garden!

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