Anyone wanting to garden in the high desert must be aware that there are major differences in gardening at a mile high versus closer to sea level! New Mexico has a wider spread of temperatures from day to night. Our winters frequently have 60+ degree days with freezing nights. Our summers have very pleasant nights, but the days can top 100 degrees! To have a successful garden we need to find ways to help our plants adapt.
During the height of summer when the sun burns down, most vegetables will produce better if they have some shade – especially in the afternoon. You can provide it by placing the garden next to a wall or tree that can shade it during that time. Keep in mind that instructions on seed packets that say “plant in full sun” were probably written by someone in Michigan where the atmosphere provides at least 5,000 feet more protection!
Keeping perennials happy in winter can be accomplished by providing a microclimate which keeps them from facing a hard freeze. Place them on the south side of an adobe wall or in an area that naturally holds heat in.
In the book “Creating Microclimates for High Desert Gardens“, I discuss why High Desert gardening is so much different than low land gardens. Inside you’ll see dozens of techniques which can help your flowers and vegetables thrive!