Have you ever experienced the frustration of finding a beautiful gardening blog only to discover that they live in a very different climate than yours and that it’s nearly impossible to grow the same things in your garden? I have, many a time.
So I’ll say up front, I live in the high desert of New Mexico. Our summers regularly top 100°F and our winters often hit below 0°F. And it is very dry. I am lucky enough to have irrigation rights that allow me enough water for my yard and garden, but sometimes the ditch is blocked or too mucky to run through the pipe to my valve, and I must try to keep it all alive with expensive tap water.
We sometimes have hurricane strength wind storms that kick up so much sand it is hard to see and blow whole trees over, thus my green beans are grown on tomato cages reinforced with extra stakes pounded deep into my clay soil.
My dirt is the finest of clays and requires endless amendments to keep it from growing nothing but tumble weeds and goat heads. I’m constantly scavenging for compost, manure, straw, anything biodegradable and organic I can work in.
I am blessed to have lots of sun and a growing season which seems long to me only because I hail from the alpine regions of the Colorado Rockies. With some creativity I can have plants in the ground for most of the year and use the few months in between to prune the fruit trees.
Technically I am considered to be in a USDA Hardiness Zone of 7a. Of course, this is calculated on an average lowest temperature and I know full and well to expect colder weather at least every other winter. I also know that while it can freeze here up to June 1 that I can take a gamble and (with lots of old blankets on hand in case the freeze does come) start planting earlier. I usually start squashed and pumpkins early in old tires, the black rubber soaks up heat and makes a little warm pocket over my babies at night. There’s endless local lore of methods to stretch out the growing season here, some of my neighbors collect old (non-LED) Christmas lights and keep them strung all over their fruit trees for protection from cold snaps after the blossoms are done. Yes, Christmas in May.
To find your hardiness zone: USDA Zone Map.
I don’t spray at all, this means I sometimes loose whole crops to pests. I do keep two cats and let my neighbors kitties come help patrol the garden. Cats will do wonders for keeping rodents, birds and larger insects at bay. And I encourage spiders to love on my plants, I dislike them in my house but in the garden they’re my friends. By not spraying I have thriving lady bugs and praying mantises doing some of my work for me. I let the kids pick bugs off plants to feed grandma’s chickens, too.