Winter gardens, off grid in the high desert of Arizona

Winter gardens, off grid in the high desert of Arizona

I'm really happy to see you guys starting to come over to my website to read my blogs and interact in the comment section. I will be putting more effort into my blog and creating unique content you can only find here. I'll try to elaborate on topics you might see on YouTube so that it's worth your time to just come over here and watch the videos from my website. 

Winter gardens, off grid in the high desert of Arizona

Many people think that I live in the hot southern desert of Arizona and while it does get pretty hot and dry up here in the high desert, it usually doesn't get to be above 97 F but it cools down to around 50 F at night nearly all year. In the winter it doesn't usually get into the negatives but it can occasionally and it is often far below freezing. 

This climate can make it tricky to garden. But it's completely doable. In fact as a beginner gardener I have been able to grow a lot of food for two out of three winters that I have lived out here. Yesterday I harvested carrots that I have been growing all winter. They aren't perfect. Mostly I believe, because my soil isn't fully developed, I have created my own from scratch, which takes time. My guess is, it's just not soft enough yet to let the carrots grow to their full potential. I'll be adding a LOT of soil I have been building up to fix that issue. At any rate, I have been able to grow, harvest, eat and store a lot of food all year long. 

I wanted to share with you briefly what has worked best for me so far and what I am working on that should be fruitful in the future. If you've followed along, you know that I have been working on a geothermal greenhouse since I got out here. Almost three years now. I just barely was able to build a solar system in my greenhouse large enough to keep a fan moving air through the geothermal hosing to regulate the temperature in there 24/7. Recently I checked on the system while it was 5 F outside, first thing in the morning so the sun wasn't a factor and it was almost 30 F inside the geothermal. This is huge news! And while I have many beets coming up in there this winter. I didn't have the system up in time to make a big difference this winter. However it will definitely allow me to grow more this summer than I normally could. 

So how have I been most successful this far, growing throughout the winter? In a simple unheated hoop house. When I first came out here I set up a less than $200 hoop house to grow in. I had my doubts it would work. I just didn't fully understand how it would work yet. Well, in the summer I learned it's best to keep it wide open. It's useful to keep birds and dogs out for the most part. But in the winter what I've learned is, I was able to keep everything pretty happy, especially winter crops by wrapping the metal frame with two layers of plant fabric. Then completely wrapping it in plastic. Another way to do this would be to build little hoops over the garden rows and put plant fabric over them, but I prefer my method as it keeps the greenhouse wide open to walk through and access plants with no issues. At any rate for those wondering how they can grow all winter long, this is a simple and effective method. 

I'm confident my geothermal will be the best method on my homestead. But there was more involved in digging a six foot deep thirty two foot long fourteen foot wide hole in the earth, building a hoop house to cover it and building a solar system to keep the two hundred linear feet of four inch tubing pumping air throughout the system to regulate temperature. 

If you're looking to start gardening in the high desert in any state. I hope this information saves you some time. 

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Thanks Marc and Corie for sharing. I have tried several methods, Having the original plastic plus a new layer of 4 year greenhouse plastic plus 2 layers of plant fabric has done very well. It gets too hot often even in the winter. I have to open it up to cool down.

Frugal Off Grid

Hi John! The carrots look great! Some varieties grow short like that, not sure what kind you planted but I bet the cold made them pretty sweet! Have you considered putting cold frames over some of the crops inside the greenhouse? The double protection might help the plants grow faster. And also adding the plant fabric over the whole thing like you said. I’m looking forward to seeing what you grow. Thanks for sharing!

Corie Bilotta

Great on the blog John…trials and tribulations are our best educators. From hoophouse to aquaponics, we never learn if we dont jump in and take a risk. Motivates me to broaden my skillset 👊

Marc B Morris (Chuck)

Happy to hear it Maurice, I’ll keep posting the most information over here for those who want it. I’ll post most of my videos here as well with a paragraph or two of behind the scenes information or simply expand on the topic.

Frugal Off Grid

Love the blog John. I read far more than I watch, so it’s a great addition to your channel for me 👌🏼

Maurice Smith

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