garden, may 24

Vegetable gardening in the high desert presents a lot of challenges. A LOT of challenges. Soil is generally poor quality. Water is scarce. But for me, the biggest challenge of all is the unpredictability of the weather, especially in the spring. Soil can be amended and water collected, but there is nothing is to be done about the weather except for wishing and hoping.

The last few weeks, it has been all over the board. We had a late-season hard freeze just about the time of the average last frost date, followed by temps in the 80s. A little bit of heartbreak followed. Somehow, whether it was the wind or cat or kid, the lid got knocked off my seed starting dome. With the double-shot of it being hot and dry out, I lost damn near everything. Out of the 75 or so pods that were in there, I only managed to preserve one leek, two sunflowers, one echinacea, one chard, and possibly a watermelon (if it survives).

There’s nothing to be done but start over. I’ve lost a few weeks, but hopefully it’s still early enough in the season that I can play catch-up. If not, well, lesson learned for next time.

This weekend, it rained. And I mean, it rained, the way it only does in the desert extremes. Friday brought a huge deluge, complete with enough hail that it looked like it had snowed. Everything is saturated. I really wish that I had secured rain barrels by now, because I could have easily filled all of them. I had to make do with putting out as many containers as I could, and hope that in the next few weeks it doesn’t all evaporate.

On the positive side, I harvested the beets:

beets

The first patch was perfectly formed. The second batch contained a few wonky shapes, which I believe is due to over-watering and the fact that the soil got packed down from rain.

In containers, I have romaine, lettuce mix, chard, and cilantro all coming up. The mint has flourished to the point that I took cuttings and propagated them. Surprisingly, the cuttings that I got last year and haphazardly stuck into a random spot in the front yard have come back. Fine by me — You can never have too much mint! (I may regret saying that, as mint is a prolific plant that spreads like crazy.) Strawberries are holding strong and started to produce buds.

Once we get some warmer weather, the tomatoes and pepper will be going into the ground. Squash and melons need to be sown. I’m hoping for a big harvest of zucchini, but I need to get another bed built so they have room to spread.

Still so much to do. Fingers crossed that the next two days have some rainless sunny hours so I can get to it.

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