Lew Wallace, the author of Ben Hur and Governor of New Mexico when it was still a territory, said “All calculations based on experience elsewhere, fail in New Mexico”. Nowhere is that truer than in the garden. Many gardeners who had beautiful vegetable patches and flower beds in other parts of the US have told me how frustrated they are with trying to grow ANYTHING here. Our temperatures can swing 30 degrees or more in a single day. Our soil usually has very little organic material, is hard as a rock and just as dry. At higher elevations, there is hail and the occasional June snowstorms, The wind starts to blow and dries everything out the minute the irrigation shuts off. Oh, and did I mention that it’s a high altitude desert? So, it’s dry ranging from 6 to 30 inches of rain annually.
I’m still learning how to garden in my home state as well. Things have been so much easier since I stopped asking New Mexico to be something other than what it is. I stopped planting pansies and started putting in the plants that want to be here. I threw out my drip irrigation system, which never worked all that well anyway and am experimenting with other methods of watering my vegetables that are low tech, low water, and can create higher yields. I hope I can help you learn to love your caliche soil and dry heat too.
Ask me questions! If I don’t know the answer, I’ll find out and we’ll both learn something new.