Growing food in a desert is challenging, not only because it's dry and hot. It
may look uninhabited, but it is actually teeming with life. Some of these life forms would love to eat whatever you
can grow for them, as it would probably taste better than the tough, thorny stuff they're used to
A veggie garden... Ah, let me clarify something. There are grid-powered ranches around, with
deep wells and lots of water. These places can grow grains and other things for their cattle, but most of this
desert has too little soil for fields of food. It's mountainous, eroded, mostly rock, sand and some small areas
with soil, short on expansive meadows. My 20 acres are more a rockscape than anything, so we'll be talking about a
raised bed veggie garden, not the back 40.
Container and raised bed growing are the best ways to grow things in the desert, as these
prevent water loss and keep the edibles and other plants aabove the soil and out of reach of some pests. Any
serious veggie garden, however, must be enclosed, to keep all the rodents out: cottontail rabbits, jackrabbits,
rats, packrats, mice, kangaroo rats, mice, gophers. Birds must also be screened out, so the garden will have to be
raised and enclosed. A raised bed also allows for a proper soil depth and the creation of custom soil mixes.
My garden is a rectangular raised bed two feet high, enclosed in wire screen. Plants and fruit
trees are watered automatically by timers and the house's greywater system. I can leave the system alone for months
and everything will be watered.
Fruit trees grow fine in 60-gallon barrels, as do grapes
If veggie gardens in the desert interest you, my DVD shows how to build one and grow food in it.