The Best Tips For Desert Gardening

Growing your own garden in the desert can be an extreme challenge. But desert gardening isn’t impossible, we’re going to share some great tips for having a vegetable garden or flower garden even in an extreme climate.

Desert gardening has its own unique challenges unlike many other locations, which will require some planning ahead and for you to choose the right plants for your garden. 

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Raised garden beds, and an arm load of vegetables | The Best Tips For Desert Gardening

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Desert Gardening: How To Garden In The Desert

Is desert gardening even possible? Yes! Despite the extreme temperatures, you can grow your very own garden.

Choosing The Right Seeds For Desert Gardening

A very important part of desert gardening is choosing the right seeds for your location. The first step is figuring out your growing zone, desert gardening zones can range from zones 9-11 so figure out the growing zone you are in.

Choose seeds that have been grown in and adapted to desert gardening. Many heirloom varieties are a great choice for your garden. You can learn more about where to buy seeds for your desert garden here

What Vegetables Grow Best In The Desert

Warm-season crops are best suited to desert gardening, plants like:

  • Beans
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Melon
  • Pepper
  • Pumpkin
  • Squash
  • Corn
  • Sweet potato
  • Tomato

While these varieties aren’t drought tolerant you may be able to squeeze them into your garden during cooler seasons:

  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Onion
  • Pea
  • Potato
  • Radish
  • Spinach
  • Turnips

How To Prepare Your Soil For Desert Gardening

For success at desert gardening, it’s really important to nurture your soil so it can support your vegetables. Your soil is most likely full of sand, gravel, and clay which means you’ll need to add plenty of well-rotted manure or compost. It may be worth it to do a soil test to see exactly what your soil is lacking. Amending your soil will need to be done annually, starting with your first planting. 

You may want to consider growing cover crops when you aren’t growing vegetables to continue enriching your soil.

Desert Garden Care

Caring for a desert garden is one of the things that will be different from other gardens, so let’s go over just what you will need to do to care for your new garden.

Watering Your Desert Garden

A desert garden is going to require much more water than gardens in many other garden zones, the desert is an incredibly arid climate which not only affects plants at their roots but also their ability to draw water in through their leaves. The best way to solve this problem is using drip irrigation systems and heavily mulching your garden beds to help reserve the water. 

Mulching A Desert Garden

Mulching your desert garden with straw or wood chips is a great way to give your plants a chance to absorb it. Mulching will also help to protect your topsoil and the base of your plants from the elements, and keep down weeds.

Shielding Plants In A Desert Garden

Another really important part about keeping a desert garden is protecting your vegetable plants from the sun. The heat of the sun in the desert can literally cook your vegetable plants down to the roots. Due to the high altitude and the intense UV rays. In order to avoid burning your plants, you can try companion planting or using shade cloth.

  • companion planting, instead of planting to prevent pests use one vegetable to shield another. Plant small leafy vegetables beneath the trellis for beans or cucumbers. Shield tomatoes or peppers with sunflowers etc. 
  • Shade cloth is a wonderful and fairly inexpensive way to protect your tender veggies from the sun’s heat. You can do this by inserting PVC pipes in your beds as you would when creating a hoop house and then securing the shade over the very top of the PVC pipes using small clamps so your plants get some sun but are shielded from the hottest part of the day. 
Shielding Plants From The Wind

The wind is another thing you’ll need to shield your plants from, the strong winds can easily flatten your plants and tear down your trellises. Ideally, you’ll need to build windbreaks to protect your garden. This can be a fence or even a wall that will shield your desert garden from the wind. If fencing your garden isn’t an option you can use something like strawbales to protect your garden.

Growing A Desert Garden

Growing vegetables in an extreme climate can be intimidating, but it’s absolutely possible. You’ll learn to adapt normal gardening methods to your growing zone and figure out what works for you and your desert garden.


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