Growing the Desert Garden

Welcome to the Desert Garden, with garden coach Tyler Storey, where we talk about everything having to do with gardening and landscaping in the Desert Southwest. From composting to Cercidium and agaves to arugula — we'll cover everything you want to know to grow your own beautiful Desert Garden.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Stop-Action Quince: Part 9

Quince, Week 12 © Tyler Storey

Our quince is still alive and kicking, if admittedly somewhat lacking in high-energy dash and adventure. Such is the quiet nature of gardening.

It's the last we'll see of it for a couple of weeks, because as of today I'm taking a short vacation.

One of the great challenges in growing fruits and vegetables in the Desert Garden is that there often comes a time — usually just about now — when the desert gardener finds a need to escape the heat for a short venture to cooler climes. Vacation, in other words. Unfortunately, this tends to coincide with our mid-summer harvest and with our greatest mid-summer heat. And since nothing is more disappointing than returning from vacation to find a dead garden full of rotted produce, we need to take some steps to keep things going while we're gone.

I recommend equal parts mulch and neighborliness.

First, be certain that all your fruit trees and vegetable beds are well-mulched, and give everything a thorough soaking just before you leave.

Next, call or drop in on one or more of your neighbors. Here's the script: "I'm going to be gone for a few days, but I have lots of [tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, chiles, squash, etc.] ripening in the garden. Please come over and pick as much as you'd like."

This being Summer in Arizona, your neighbor is almost guaranteed to respond by asking if you need anything watered, to which you reply: "Thank you, if you see anything wilting that would really be great."

Don't limit yourself to the neighbors you're on friendly terms with.

This is an excellent opportunity to mend fences with those neighbors you've been feuding with all this time. Just grit your teeth, gird up your loins, march right over there and be neighborly.

Giving away food is a great way to make friends. And being neighborly is good for you.

Just remember: if you come home and everything is dried to a crisp, you can't get mad at the neighbor. That really would defeat the whole purpose.


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