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Potted Desert Garden

22 Sep 2015
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There is not a clear-cut answer to any question regarding gardening—or budgeting! Therefore, you know that when you’re making a budget for a garden, there are all sorts of possibilities. However, one thing is clear cut: You do have control over how much you spend on a potted garden. The biggest benefit of gardening in the desert is that your largest expense—pots—will not freeze, so you do not have to worry about replacing them during a hard winter. In fact, if you spend money on really good pots, you should never have to replace them. I am going to lay this out as if you are shopping at a local nursery, as there, I know your money is being well spent. However, at discount stores, consignment shops and yard sales, you might find real bargains that will cut this budget significantly. Pots: For each grouping of three pots (18”, 22”,…
15 Sep 2015
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Raised garden beds and planters offer another way to “contain” your desert gardens. They can provide a larger space to grow veggies and flowers. One reason why I like raised planters is that, like pots, they are much easier on your back. If the raised planter is designed well, you can sit on the edge of the bed while planting and caring for your plants. The downside is you can’t move around a raised bed like you can pots. To prepare a raised bed for planting, fill it with a quality potting soil. If the bed is large, this may be too expensive, and you may need to instead pick up a quality garden soil at the nursery. You want something that is sterile and smells earthy—there should be no hint of a manure smell. As you add the soil to the bed, stop every 12 to 18 inches, and…
08 Sep 2015
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Water is a priority issue in this severe drought. You may wonder: Can we set up an oasis garden in our yard while restricting water usage? You have choices. By using pots, you will use water more sparingly, as you are watering a very specific area. By being mindful about how much water you supply to your pots, you will average a gallon or two per day for each 20-to-24-inch pot with high water plants, such as flowers, planted in full sun. Medium-water thirsty plants will only need water every other day; low water plants need water every third day, perhaps even less often. Therefore, if you have 10 pots, the most water you use is 20 gallons a day—and that’s if all are planted with water-greedy plants in the full sun. The average resident in the United States showers for eight minutes, using 17 gallons of water. If you…
01 Sep 2015
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It’s time to speak specifically to newcomers about gardening in the desert. Of course, you are probably reading this when the mercury is still firmly wrestling with 100-plus degrees on a daily basis, and you’re saying, “Are you kidding me?” Really: I do not jest. We can and do have wonderful gardens here in the low desert; we just have to be smart about it. Many of us come from climates with beautiful, cooler summers—and with those summers come stunning gardens. I know that many of us yearn for a similar garden here in the desert, and I want to assure you that it can be done. A note for the non-gardeners who may be reading this: Why not try your hand with a garden at your desert home? Perhaps you have caught yourself admiring other gardens in the valley, and you think to yourself, “Could I do it?” Here…
25 Aug 2015
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The high season, the off season, the “shoulder season”—there are many ways we talk about the seasons in the desert. With the sun shining 354 days a year on average, it can be a gardener’s delight. The shoulder season for the hospitality industry is late April through the end of May, and then again in late September and October. Temperatures can still get high (80s and above) in these months, but the nights start to cool down to the mid-50s and 60s. (See the chart below.) Our desert potted gardens are the most frustrating to deal with during the shoulder season, as noted in the chart above in green. As I’ve discussed all month, we may want to plant for the next season, but the flowers are not ready. This is, however, a great time to plant some vegetables and herbs, as they do well in containers. Make sure your…