Cultivating a Year-Round Vegetable Garden in the Desert Southwest
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Transforming Chaos into Order: Reviving My Vegetable Garden
A Peek into My Winter Vegetable Garden
One of the many blessings of living in the desert Southwest is the ability to grow vegetables out in the garden all year long. Today, I thought that I would give you a peek into my winter vegetable garden.
Maintaining the Garden with a Renovation
Over the past couple years, my vegetable garden had become slightly messy with a mixture of herbs, vegetables, and flowers growing in disorganized masses. Now, anyone who knows me will tell you that I am not a perfectionist – far from it. But, I realized that I am more likely to maintain and harvest my vegetables when they are neatly laid out in rows.
So in August, I ripped out everything from the garden except for a new Spanish lavender plant.
Vegetable Garden Soil Enrichment and Preparation
Once September arrived, my husband helped me to replace a few of the wood sides that had gradually rotted. I was happy to note that they had lasted over five years.
We amended the soil with 2 parts of mushroom compost and 1 part aged steer manure. This was my first time using mushroom compost. I wish I could say that it was because I had read about how good it was, but the truth is that the store was out of my favorite brand of compost, and mushroom was what was available. So, we used it.
Blood and bone meal were then sprinkled to provide organic sources of nitrogen and phosphorus.
Efficient Irrigation for the Raised Beds
A new irrigation system was installed in the form of micro-soaker hoses. We bought a kit from our local big box store, which was easy to install.
Sowing Seeds and Bountiful Harvests
Now for the fun part, sowing seeds!
The folks at Botanical Interests provided me with seeds, free of charge, to try out in my garden. I’ve used their seed for years, and they have a large selection of flowers, herbs, and vegetable seed that is of the highest quality.
My favorite cool-season crops are leaf lettuce and kale. I’ve had great luck growing kale, with the same plants lasting for over two winter seasons.
The earliest crop that I’ve harvested were bush beans that I planted in September from seed. Botanical Interests suggested I grow ‘Jade’ and ‘Royal Burgundy’ varieties. Both were delicious, and I discovered that the purple color fades when roasted.
The Vegetable Garden is Thriving!
The mild winter has my basil thriving. A client gave me this unique variety of basil called, Mrs. Burns Lemon Basil. It is an heirloom variety, and it is growing beautifully.
Three-inch little heads of cauliflower are just beginning to form. For some reason, I don’t have much luck growing broccoli, but I do grow a mean cauliflower.
While I did reduce the number of flowers in the vegetable garden, I grew a brand-new variety of marigold from a seed called ‘Moonsong Marigold Deep Orange.’
My strawberry plants are beginning to flower and produce tiny fruits.
The Joy of Growing Your Own Vegetables
My avoidance of bagged salad greens is still in place as the garden is still producing plenty of leafy greens.
Finally, a peek into the future, with carrots growing vigorously.
Do you grow vegetables? I highly recommend it. Even with the busyness of life and the stresses that it brings, it just melts away as I take a few minutes to walk through the garden observing new growth, some welcome surprises, and most importantly, the delicious flavors that it adds to our favorite dishes.
Disclosure: I was provided seed from the folks at Botanical Interests free of charge for my use and honest opinion.consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."