Growing and buying high quality food in the Mohave desert


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Christine near Meadview
We have two acres, are off grid and haul water in the Joshua Tree desert at about 3,800 elevation -- USDA zone 8b? Have a 20' x 40' hoophouse, 10' x 14' greenhouse, several gardens, always "remodeling" and now adding a little permaculture orchard and a 2nd hoophouse (shade cloth covered to keep it cooler)
August 1, 2015
6:46 pm
Near Meadview, between Lake Mead and Grand Canyon West (Skywalk)
Forum Posts: 172
Member Since:
May 6, 2015
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I lived in the area since 2000, but started serious gardening in 2009 (with next to no money) after watching Geoff Lawton's Greening the Desert (nobody mentioned that high deserts are COMPLETELY different).  We dug small swales on the hill to collect water, built fences with slats from free pallets, bartered for wire fencing, etc.  We planted so many trees and almost all froze.  Finding suitable plants for our climate has been a major challenge.  Just because we see trees like palo verdes growing in Meadview or Kingman doesn't mean they won't freeze here.

Winter lows are near 0 F every few years, usually the lows are in the teens occasionally with many winter nights above freezing.   In summer highs are usually around 110 F for a few weeks (June was HOT this year!) and if we're lucky we get some monsoon rain occasionally in July and August.   It's raining a little right now, has been a relatively good year for rain.

Extremely high winds in May (and sometimes April) -- day after day.  The wind kills plants just like critters and the sun and wind protection is priority for any garden in our area.

8.2 pH, little organic matter.  I posted our native soil test (IAL) and recommendations and will upload all of our tests.

Our rabbits, squirrels and rats are ferocious and keeping critters from eating our food is another major challenge.  The first couple years were AWFUL because we were feeding the birds.  Once we quit that, it got a lot better.  It's almost impossible to keep the squirrels out, but as we grow MORE, we notice LESS damage.   I'm amazed that we've been harvesting zucchini in a new garden area protected only by 2' foot chicken wire.  We've had some damage, but so far no major problems.    The gophers took one plant and they'll be dealt with. A few years ago gophers destroyed our gardens and we can't even figure out how they can tunnel with all those rocks.

Meadview is a retirement community and gardening is one of the best ways to stay fit and healthy.  In 2011 I started the High Desert Gardening Club and I'm always looking for ways to easily grow some salad and veggies.  I also run a couple of organic food co-ops.

I'll be updating with links as I'm currently moving our gardening club and co-op web pages.

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