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I live in Barstow, California. We're located in the high desert, on the way to Vegas. There isn't much vegetation out this way. Last year I tried to start a little patio garden. But, either the ground squirrels ate them or the heat dessicated them. This year I was to take another crack at growing some veggies and herbs but am at a loss as to what might thrive out here. I've been looking for resources but coming up empty handed. Could anyone recommend some books or sites?

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Angelica, I posed your question to folks on our Facebook page, too - check it out!

Cornelia said:
Angelica, I posed your question to folks on our Facebook page, too - check it out!
Hi Angelica, Welcome to the High Desert of CA. I live in Apple Valley, about 30 miles from where you are. I can understand some of your frustration because of our severe weather and the critters. Here are my solutions that have worked so far.
1) We built raised bed gardens. Only built them out of 2 x 12, so they are 12 inches above the ground. Then I added in lots of good garden soil (if your soil is like mine, it's mostly decomposed granite!). I dug down into the ground about 12 inches and started mixing the existing soil with the garden soil. There is a place in Apple Valley called the Rock Yard that carries garden soil for about $24.50 a scoop (yard). Then I added in organic matter (since I am still working on putting together a composter, I used steer manure, bought from Home Depot.
2) Then I added in a drip watering system. My tomatoes this year were on 2 drippers each (1/2 gal an hour) and ran for 1/2 hour in the am and another half in the pm. Plus I hand water a little every morning. You can also purchase sprayers for the drip system that work well for seedlings like lettuces, carrots and peas. I have those in one of my raised beds as well.
3) With the rabbits and squirrels, you have to fence the raised beds. If you use really rigid fencing, the squirrels will just climb it and end up in your garden anyway, so I use decorative plastic fencing that comes in rolls, purchase from home depot. With a stake at each corner of the raised bed, I pull the fencing as hand tight as possible and tack down. That seems to have worked fairly well so far. Although one of my neighbors just bought a live trap, traps the squirrels and takes them out into the desert aways and releases them.
4) In the summer, because of birds, I use netting, stretched over high stakes placed at each corner of the garden. That really helps cut down on the amount the birds can eat.
5) As for our winds, that will dessicate your plants almost more than the hot sun. Keep the plants well watered (hence the drip system and a little hand watering)and try to plant where you have a good block from the wind.

Now for the good news. This year I had so many tomatoes (from 2 early girl, one beefsteak and 2 romas) I was giving them away to neighbors, and still had plenty to freeze and can. Also made fresh salsa and canned some too.
I grew pasilla, anaheim, jalapeno and bell peppers, carrots, lettuce, basil, snow and snap peas, green beans, cucumbers, crookneck and zucchini squash, and some things I have now forgotten. All this from 4 raised beds, each is 4 x4 (16 square feet).
For my herbs, I actually grow most of them in pots in an area that gets afternoon shade. This season I had basil, oregano, mint, thyme and sage.
Hope this helps you out. I got a lot of tips from this site and then just depended on my Sunset Western Garden book and local nursery (I use Cal Herbold's in Hesperia) because they are the true experts as to what will and what won't grow in our soil and climate. Feel free to send me a message as to how you do. And good luck. Happy HD Gardening!
I'm also a high desert lands property owner. South west of you. Have you considered growing JoJoba beans? I'm thinking it might be a good idea. The thought of the critters eating my investment has crossed my mind. From what I understand one need both male & female plants. I'm thinking since the wind blows from the west most of the time the male plants should be on the west side. They need more water in the winter. This is also attractive.

I also thought about wind farming. Which would not be eaten, but might be ripped off by those desert rat types who recycle metals.
Any thoughts of knowledge about JoJoba. I know if you can turn it into oil it sells for a $650. a gallon as pure. I'd grind beans grown in the desert for that. I'm looking to buy plants at this time as well. I'll start out with a few, just to see how they do. No sense in investing big time not knowing how it will turn out with growing conditions.

I once did pretty good growing melons in the desert. Cantaloupes do well in the heat.

I planted one garden when we were stationed out at N.A.S. China Lake. Flowers keept falling off my tomato plants but the zuchinni grew like gangbusters. There was a huge brick raised bed about 3 feet high that I planted in so np with the wild buns but the family dog also patroled.
I do drip irrigation but with 5 gallon or smaller buckets that I get for free from donut shops or along the side of the road. Drill a very small hole off to one side in the bottom of the bucket. You'll set the bucket close to the base of your plant with the hole postioned next to the plant.
Once filled the bucket will slowly leak/drip water on your garden. What I like about this system is that besides being free I can adjust the buckets/point of watering very easily. Good luck on your high desert gardening!

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