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:
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 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:
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.