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.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Stop-Action Broad Bean: Episode 5

Broad Bean © Tyler Storey

Our little Broad Bean is still alive and kicking, and here it is, to the left. Not really much of a change between last week and today, but I have high hopes. This particular plant appears to be the runt of the bean litter and is lagging behind its fellow bean plants. I had considered switching to another, more vigorous and photogenic bean, but that would violate the spirit of the endeavour, so we'll stick with what we have.

You may notice our bean looks a bit wet from the first of the Winter rains, and that may pop its growth a bit. Winter rains are one of the great advantages to gardening in the Sonoran Desert. Of the four main deserts in North America – the Great Basin, Mojave, Sonoran, and Chihuahuan – only the Sonoran has reliable and significant two-season rains.

The northernmost desert, the Great Basin, covers most of the state of Nevada and small portions of Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and California. Much of its precipitation falls as snow, mostly in late Winter and early Spring.

The Mojave desert, directly to the South of the Great Basin, is the driest of our American deserts and also home to Death Valley, location of the highest temperature ever recorded in North America. It gets some of the Great Basin Winter rains, and some of the Summer rains from the Sonoran Desert, but more or less the leavings of each.

The Chihuahuan Desert, to the South and East of the Sonoran Desert, covers small portions of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, but lies predominantly in Mexico. It tends towards higher elevations, and get most of its rainfall in the Summer months.

The Sonoran Desert covers a good portion of Southern Arizona, over into Southern California, then South along either side of the Gulf of California, and is a more subtropical desert, with significant rainfall both from the Summer Monsoon season and the Winter rains; we get the best of both worlds and can easily grow plants native to almost any of the world's desert regions.

As you plan, plant, and care for your own slice of the Desert Garden, it's worth paying attention both to the rain characteristics of where you garden, and to the rain characteristics of where your individual plants come from. Knowing what the weather is like where your plant comes from is one of the best clues to caring for it in its new location.


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