Planting herbs and vegetables in the desert condition


I survived through 120 °F/48.89 °C and lived. I was burnt but still strong. How does that happen? Follow me I’ll show you and no, SPF 100, won’t help.

That’s right even sunscreen can’t help well a little, keeps you from frying to a crisp ^^. I’m talking about planting herbs (tshuaj ntsuab) and vegetables in desert conditions. It’s really, no big deal.

You just need to know what you’re doing. The weather here can be rough especially in the summer. However, after fall comes the heat dies down in the morning! Yay. That’s when the fun starts. It’s still hot moving towards the afternoon.

The best part is I can go outside in the morning and work until 10 AM before it gets back up in the 90s.

What Soil Do You Have

Now planting in an arid, hot place like Yuma, AZ your garden needs a lot of TLC. Plus depending on your geographic area. The soil can vary between 5 to 20 miles ( 1690 to 32186 meters).  

Here, in my geographic area, it’s different. I can go 2 miles (3200 m) down the road and the soil there is clay whereas I live, I have sandy soil. We’ll talk about sandy soil in a bit.

Clay Soil

Clay soil is sticky when wet and hard when dry.  It is very hard to cultivate when that happens. However, it’s rich in nutrients. Clay soil can be amended with compost to loosen the ground a little to aerate oxygen into the soil.  

It’s already rich in nutrients more nutrients wouldn’t hurt.


  • buy perlite and mix it in your soil
  • fold grass cuttings into the area you are planning to use
  • wood chips, twigs, and kitchen scraps

Whatever it takes to make an organic planting area.

 Sandy Soil

Sandy soil can be a challenge. It’s just… sand it drains and dries quickly. Too much water and it sits you’ll get algae growing. When it drains it leaves the soil dry. There are not many nutrients in it so you have to constantly mulch the area.

Tip: Use a timer or make a drip system. 

This was my challenge.  Now that we have moved from the house in town and live higher towards the mountainside my backyard has sandy soil. I was disappointed that I didn’t look at the dirt before purchasing my new home.

When looking for my new home. What I care for at that time was, it close to work? That was all I cared about until we were all settle in then I decided to go and grow some stuff…well I was shocked but I couldn’t blame anyone but myself. What am I going to do now?! Imagine growing food on that!



  • mulch with grass cuttings
  • wood chips, twigs, and yard scraps
  • Don’t rake deciduous trees/plants
  • buy a drip system or make one

You can practically grow anything in the sandy dirt. A little warning must cover plants and herbs from May to the end of October because during those months it is really hot and dry during the afternoon.

Try watering your garden every morning and evening. If you have it on a drip system water them for 15 mins. only if it’s sand dirt.

Chalky Soil

Chalky soil is soil that hasn’t been used for a long time and it has heavier or more stones in the soil. Lots of lime in the dirt.

It’s heavy in stone particles even if you start a garden and plant food in it. The soil will stunt the growth of the plant and it will yield little vegetables.

Options: Shop at Bootstrap Farmer

  • buy containers
  • mulching
  • add compost

There’s good news though. I have a place to make a good garden. I’m going to try. I tried, failed, tried again, failed. I almost gave up on planting in the desert. Sand everywhere, with my herbs, how am I going to do it in desert conditions?

My vegetables looked at me and said “please let us go, too hot, too dry” I was saddened. I had to let them go to veggie heaven. Although letting go is hard I never gave up.

I found that even if it drys up and burning hot. You just need to find the right vegetables to grow during the seasons.

What To Plant

Sometimes the seasons aren’t the issues it’s the plants. In California seeding for muster, collard greens are April. Yuma is August/September and harvests in October even as late as November.

Sorghum loves the heat and doesn’t need a lot of water. I grew some by accident. My mom gave me some seeds that looked like broccoli seeds.

I seeded them. As it grew it looked like corn so I kept it, turns out to be sorghum, who knew!

Now, because it’s September I will start seeding green beans, broccoli, and carrots. If you have never eaten your own grown carrots you should try it, it’s super sweet!

I planted sweet potatoes and it’s doing well during this summer.

For other dirt use a drip system once every other day. I like the evening but so do slugs and snails.

I have mine on a drip system. During the summer evening, it’s still 100° F (37.78° C) out at 10 o’clock pm (2200 hours). Sometimes even at midnight. Chose your battle.

My herbs (tshuaj ntsuab) /vegetable garden almost died! We went on a vacation to Europe for three weeks. Our circuit breaker on the switch had burned out. Needless to say, I came back to disappointment. This year I have to start my garden from scratch and I am babying my herbs to see if they will survive until the cool season which is coming soon.

Wilted Garden

Update almost a year later:  July 2018


Planting herbs and vegetable gardens in the desert isn’t that bad. I’ve been doing it for a long time and growing food for my family is great.

My cilantro fragrant is so strong. I love cilantro some people don’t like them. Their loss. My green onions are sweet and crispy. Wow.

My chili peppers love the sun and they are doing well. They aren’t producing much better in the heat but when it cools down I will have ample chili peppers.

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