Jan’s stunning permaculture garden in Meadview


I recently visited Meadview Realtor Jan’s permaculture garden, although she just decided to plant trees, bushes and perennials and to then interplant the annual veggies because it makes sense.  This is the way to grow food in the desert. 

Click on the pictures for larger images:

The garden above the chicken coop

It was amazing to see this beautiful garden right here in Meadview — “where you  can’t garden”, as so many people claim.  Jan started Palo Verde and mesquite trees from seeds 10 years ago and those trees actually add nitrogen to the soil.  Of course they also provide shelter from the sun and our ferocious winds for the plants below.  But that’s not all, the leaves make excellent mulch and the seeds are edible.  What else could you possibly ask from a tree?

Jan also has chickens and ducks and she “trained” them not to walk up the few steps up to her garden.  

Chickens and ducks provide food for people and their composted manure makes excellent plant food.

Jan has relatively little fencing and it seems like a miracle that the rabbits don’t eat most of her plants, especially since she doesn’t have a cat or dog to chase them away.

The chickens and ducks are allowed to roam in the orchard:


Most trees are decorated with pie tins to keep the birds away.







In the front are several beautiful Arizona cypress:


NICE tomatoes:

The corn looks great:

What a beautiful garden!

The flowers are not only pretty,  but they attract bees and beneficial insects.

Jan has soaker hoses and  note how everything is mulched.  We haul our water and we are setting up a gravity soaker hose irrigation system to minimize evaporation.  We usually deep water the gardens every 2 – 3 days, but of course transplants are watered daily or maybe even twice a day in this heat and it’s a good idea to spray the dust off the plants occasionally.

Jan’s garden is absolute proof that you CAN have a thriving garden in the desert.

The many trees and perennials create a micro climate much more suitable to tomatoes and other veggies.  Unfortunately we lost many trees in the cold winter of 2010/2011, but we’ve replanted and I’m especially happy that 4 of the 5 Palo Verde trees we planted last fall came back strong.

We just need to be patient, deep water the trees once a week and in a few years we’ll have shade too.  It’s a lot of work and water hauling, but as Jan’s garden shows, it’s worth the effort.

16 Responses to Jan’s stunning permaculture garden in Meadview

  1. We were in Meadview AZ last January and admired Janet’s garden. We brought home lots of small cacti from her garden, they are doing great in Robert’s shop/greenhouse.
    She did not have the chickens and ducks then.
    What beautiful pictures, nice to see her garden in full bloom. What an amazingly talented woman.
    Thank you for taking the pictures.

    • You’re welcome and I hope that many others will be inspired to follow Jan’s lead. It’s a lot of work to get started, but it’s the kind of work that really pays off in the long run. Not to mention that most people out here are retirees with not a whole lot to do but watch TV and we (the gardening club) will be happy to help anyone get started.

      The next meeting is tomorrow at Canyon’s End (fka Ken’s Pizza) at 3 pm and we’ll talk about getting ready for fall gardening.

  2. This is fantastic! I had no idea there was a garden of eden in Meadview! Thanks for the information. When we are perma-residents we will be looking up the garden club for advice!

    • Sharon, we’re looking forward to see you at the gardening club whenever you move here or even while you’re visiting. We had four new gardeners at the meeting yesterday and it’s fantastic to see so much interest in gardening.

      Since you mentioned “garden of Eden”, you might want to watch the gardening documentary “Back to Eden” free online:

  3. wonderful..!
    I am going to Saudi Arabia for a long time, very inspirational to see such a great garden in the desert. You think I’d be able to make one as well, could you please put me in the right direction?

    • The fantastic folks at http://permaculture.org.au/ have several projects in the Middle East, but we’ve been so busy, haven’t had time to follow them lately. We also post info at our site http://highdesertpermaculture.org/ and you might want to watch “Greening the Desert.” They inspired us to start gardening, but we ran into trouble finding suitable trees that don’t freeze here at 4000 ft elevation and lows to 4 F a couple winters ago.

      I don’t know whether it ever freezes in Saudi Arabia, there might be some mountains there too. Please do post again once you’re there and give us some more info about the climate and existing landscaping and buildings that you can use for shade. I spent quite a bit of time in Tripoli, Lebanon, about 30 years ago and they also had fantastic gardens.

      I’m sure you can have a great garden in Saudi Arabia too! I’ll be glad to give you some pointers.

  4. My husband and I will be moving to Dolan Springs in a few years, when he retires, and I am hoping to create an oasis that is sustainable-palo verdes, mesquites, tipus, desert willows, etc. with an understory of shrubs, flowers and such that are drought tolerant too. I have enjoyed the Back to Eden video, and already mulched my garden here in CA to experiment-very awesome results already!
    I was hoping that I could learn more about where Jan’s garden is, to be able to see what she has already accomplished?

    • Hi Julia,

      I’m very happy to see more permies moving out here!

      Jan lives in Meadview, she does work and I don’t know how she feels about visitors, but I’ll check with her. When are you planning to be here again?

      And what’s the water situation at your place in Dolan?

      We just talked to Cloyd at the Dolan orchard and his two wells are only 150′ or so deep, while other people have to drill to 700′ or more.

      We HAUL our water and lots of it lately, but fortunately we’re only 1.5 miles from the Water Co-op well.

  5. We are usually only in Dolan for a few hours to check on all those things that go with new property-fence, septic, etc. then back to SoCal and work, but I’m hoping this fall when the weather is nice we can stay for a week. I was trying to spot Jan’s on Google Maps, but nothing that green is popping out at me:>)

    We are on 15th, and hoping for a well that is not more than 200 feet, but there’s just no way to know until we dig. We will be hauling water for a while anyway, but there is a public well about 2 miles away, not bad. But I’m already planning for deep mulch and lots of native trees to limit our water needs.

    I know once I’m out there I would love to get involved in the desert gardening group, to learn from other’s experiences, and to see what can be done!

    So glad to hear about all the rain out there last week!

  6. In town, Dolan got flooded last week. We got some rain, but not as much as we needed. Right now I hear thunder and see the lightning over the cliffs, and we had our usual 3″ of rain: one drop every three inches, not enough to get the ground wet.

    On 15th you’re not far from the Orchard on 14th, hopefully you’ll have good water not too deep. Hauling isn’t that bad, but especially the first few years it takes a lot of water.

    Please do contact us before you come out in fall and we’ll plan on getting together and maybe touring several gardens up here. Been thinking about organizing a garden tour, so please let us know once you have the dates.

  7. We are staying at the cabins at the RV park 4 miles from Meadview from today (Mon) to Thursday. If there are any garden events happening I would love to go, if the timing works out.

  8. Julia, you have PERFECT timing. The next gardening club meeting is on Wednesday at 3 PM at Canyon’s End in the front room.

    Looking forward to meet you!

    • Yes, on Pierce Ferry AROUND mile 36 on the East side (cliffs), used to be Ken’s Pizza.

      Just a few miles towards Meadview from the RV park.

      Looking forward to meet you!

  9. that is a beautiful garden.

    deserts can definitely be reforested and made sustainable and productive, check out Geoff Lawton’s work at rum farm in jordan:




    you have to register to Geoff’s website to be able to watch the videos, but it is definitely worth it. he gives away a lot of information, like how succulents and mulching are indispensable, and how to passively water huge properties.

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