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Desert dwellers, UNITE! Empty Desert dwellers, UNITE!

Post  brainchasm on 11/10/2014, 9:40 pm

Hi desert folks, and welcome again to the Southwestern Deserts regional forum!

I am your new regional host, brainchasm, and I’m hoping we can liven this place up a bit!  Worst comes to worst, I’ll be posting here regardless, so feel free to keep me company. Smile

As you may or may not know, here in the SW Deserts we have some pretty impressive challenges to gardening in general, and even square foot gardening.  Raised beds and drip irrigation are practically designed for us and our arid environment, but our seasons, temperature extremes, and variable conditions mean that we are the outliers, and while Mel’s book is a wealth of information, we must experiment and innovate arguably the MOST of all the regions in order to get our crops.  We are the pioneers!  To boldly grow where no one has grown before!


So again welcome, and feel free to ask me anything.  I am a wealth of (mostly useless) knowledge, but I do cough up a nugget or two of wisdom every so often. Wink
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Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 11/10/2014, 10:33 pm

While I am not technically in the desert, our summer is spent at 100 plus degrees for almost 3 months.  It is not uncommon to have several periods of 108-110 degrees and our humidity runs quite low.

I'll be looking in to see what I can glean from your experience.

The most important thing I've learned is I use a heavy Ramial wood chip mulch to retain moisture.  (Ramial wood chips are chipped from small branches and leaves.  Not bark or core trunk wood). They hold tremendous moisture content and release it back as needed.
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Post  Marc Iverson on 11/11/2014, 5:25 am

Hey brainchasm, I didn't know you were a new host. Welcome to the hosting gig! I'd love to see more of your pictures and progress. Especially since where I'm at, we are essentially a desert climate come summer, with no rain and 90 to 100-110 degree summers.
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Post  sanderson on 11/11/2014, 12:52 pm

Audrey, Marc and Brainchasm, We are in three Regions, yet have similar micro-climates, no rain, hot summers. I'm trying to learn about other micros in my CA region. BC, I think you have a monsoon area in your region, AZ?

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Post  brainchasm on 11/11/2014, 12:54 pm

@sanderson wrote:Audrey, Marc and Brainchasm,  We are in three Regions, yet have similar micro-climates, no rain, hot summers.  I'm trying to learn about other micros in my CA region.  BC, I think you have a monsoon area in your region, AZ?
Well, we have a monsoon season of sorts in Las Vegas, but other than trying to protect stuff from the wind, I don't think it contributes anything worthwhile as far as a growing season.  But that wind...bad during monsoon season, worse in Spring.

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Post  sanderson on 11/11/2014, 1:12 pm

I have a Facebook friend, we went to college together. He posted some beautiful monsoon photos in his area. AZ ?? Perfect area to consider a rain collection system.

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Post  donnainzone5 on 11/11/2014, 1:54 pm

Supposedly, the Southwest is in a permanent drought.  For some reason, theory trumps actual data.
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Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 11/11/2014, 2:08 pm

I'm considering adding a row of poplar or cottonwood trees down my driveway.  They grow quickly and will need minimal watering in normal years, but I can chip their branches for a renewable ramial wood chip supply.  

I do a mix of SFG raised beds and BTE (Back to Eden Style) ground gardens.  The best answer for me thus far on both garden styles has been to deep mulch with wood chips to keep the moisture in the beds.  Then to build the soil I use a deep chip cover, layered with chop and drop of fresh green, healthy plant trimmings and top dressing with compost and aged manure. 

With the wood chips I don't start many seedlings in place in my SFG gardens.  I simply plant most items after starting them in my greenhouse.  Pull back the chips, plant and gently move the chips back as the plants grow.   

The deep chip cover keeps the plants roots cool even in 108 degree weather, cool enough for my red wiggler worms to grow, outside in the raised beds all year around.
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Post  crankyoldman on 12/29/2014, 5:14 pm

I am in Phoenix, AZ which is the extreme northern end of the Sonora Desert. I have gotten back into gardening since retiring and have found gardening here to be radically different that anywhere else I have been.

When I started investigating SFG practices I learned that the materials necessary to make Mel's Mix were difficult to locate here and when located could be impractical due to cost. I discovered the SFG soil product from Nature's Way at Home Depot and bought a few bags to experiment with. I found the product lacking and proceeded to look for ways of improving it. I have found a practical "fix" for the Nature's Way Mel's Mix, at least it seems practical to me.

I will share my findings with anyone who is interested, you can email me at mewright@vfemail.net as I do not want to spark a controversy here.
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Post  camprn on 12/29/2014, 8:33 pm

Just add a lot of quality compost to the pre-made mix. Easy peasy.

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Post  sanderson on 12/30/2014, 1:02 am

+1 Ditto on addition of quality (includes some composted barn manure) compost.
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Post  Kelejan on 12/31/2014, 3:01 pm

brainchasm, congratulations on becoming a regional host.

I live nearby (a couple of hours drive) to Canada's only desert that is located in British Columbia. All I know about it is that the  scenery changes when we travel from the Interior to Vancouver. Not so many trees and there seems to be a lot of sagebrush.
Good for growing grapes and making wine.

Oh, I think there is a motel that has a banana tree.
 happy banana rock onhappy bananarock onhappy banana
I think the above is called a hand of bananas.
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Post  brainchasm on 12/31/2014, 3:02 pm

I was actually thinking of getting a dwarf cavendish banana plant this spring, and seeing what if anything I could get out of it. Smile

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Post  Kelejan on 12/31/2014, 8:48 pm

@brainchasm wrote:I was actually thinking of getting a dwarf cavendish banana plant this spring, and seeing what if anything I could get out of it. Smile
Dwarf bananas? I can't think of anything else.
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Post  sanderson on 1/1/2015, 3:51 am

lol!
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Post  AtlantaMarie on 1/1/2015, 9:10 am

Hi Crankyoldman!  Welcome to the forum!

Brainchasm - congrats on hosting!
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Post  TinySpock on 3/27/2015, 5:17 pm

@Kelejan wrote:
@brainchasm wrote:I was actually thinking of getting a dwarf cavendish banana plant this spring, and seeing what if anything I could get out of it. Smile
Dwarf bananas? I can't think of anything else.

LOL!!!
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Post  Ihopetogrow on 8/1/2017, 10:46 pm

Hello,
I'm new to this forum and attempting to learn to SFG and gardening in Phoenix. Any and all help will be appreciated.
Brainchasm, I was reading your postings from years ago and I think I will try your concrete block garden. However, none of your pictures were available. I'm especially interested in your irrigation system.
I hope you're still around!
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Post  countrynaturals on 8/2/2017, 11:09 am

@audrey.jeanne.roberts wrote:While I am not technically in the desert, our summer is spent at 100 plus degrees for almost 3 months.  It is not uncommon to have several periods of 108-110 degrees and our humidity runs quite low.

I'll be looking in to see what I can glean from your experience.

The most important thing I've learned is I use a heavy Ramial wood chip mulch to retain moisture.  (Ramial wood chips are chipped from small branches and leaves.  Not bark or core trunk wood). They hold tremendous moisture content and release it back as needed.
Thanks for digging up this thread, Ihopetogrow. I will read every word. My situation is the same as Audrey's and Sanderson's. We all deep mulch with wood chips, too.
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Post  Ihopetogrow on 8/2/2017, 11:27 am

Thank you CN. I'm still trying to find my way through all of the postings, there's so much information out there! I saw your post on hot weather crops, so thank you for that too.
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Post  countrynaturals on 8/2/2017, 12:42 pm

@Ihopetogrow wrote:Thank you CN. I'm still trying to find my way through all of the postings, there's so much information out there! I saw your post on hot weather crops, so thank you for that too.
You're welcome, Ihopetogrow.
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Post  Ihopetogrow on 8/2/2017, 12:50 pm

Indeed! Thank you so much!!
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Post  AtlantaMarie on 8/2/2017, 4:16 pm

Hi Ihopetogrow. Welcome from Atlanta, GA! Glad you've found your way here...
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Post  brainchasm on 10/22/2019, 7:13 pm

I'm back.

Twisted Evil

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Post  countrynaturals on 10/22/2019, 8:20 pm

@brainchasm wrote:I'm back.

Twisted Evil
Good! Most of us borderline desert dwellers are still here. Looking forward to your posts.  reading Got any pics of your Vegas garden? I tried that once.  frustration
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