Gardening in the Desert – In Blow-Sand

Q. We live in Arizona on the Hopi reservation. We have added all kinds of soil treatment to our soil. It is mainly sand, blow sand. The problem is that when we water our crops the sand turns into almost like concrete. We sympathize with our plants as they try to survive in the stuff. What do you recommend that we do. I plan on using grow boxes next year and eliminate using our soil all together.

We water our flower garden about every other day. However the tomato plants that we have planted in this garden are struggling , so I used old soda liter plastic bottles and dug down around the plant and buried the bottle there so the roots could get some water. I was surprised as the ground was saturated only about the top 3- 4 inches and the rest of the way was like digging in concrete. I did manage to get through it.

Awaiting your suggestions.

A. There are 3 pictures in the Photos section of the MittleiderMethodGardening@yahoogroups.com group that show a garden near the Utah/Arizona border that was such bad blow-sand everyone in the community said it would grow nothing. The pictures are in the Miscellaneous folder on the second page, and the URL for the first one is https://ph.groups.yahoo.com/group/MittleiderMethodGardening/photos/view/970e?b=2

We also have several videos of gardens in the 4-corners area on the Navajo reservations that are as good or better than these pictures, and MUCH bigger.

Have you created 18″-wide soil-beds that are level, slightly higher than the aisles, and ridged to hold water, as we teach on the website?

I really doubt that you will have to resort to Grow-Boxes if you create soil-beds properly and care for them. Using Grow-Boxes in that hot climate will increase your water requirements significantly, which will probably mean you will have to have a much smaller garden.

Let’s talk more and see if we can’t coach you to some success. It’s not an idle brag when we promise to the world on the website “a great garden in any soil, in virtually any climate.”

Jim Kennard,