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New to Las Vegas, what will grow here?

Posted by newbiegardener z 10 SoCa (My Page) on
Mon, Jul 9, 07 at 11:47

Hi all,

I just moved to the Las Vegas area from California and am renting a home here.
I did some container gardening in So. Cal but didn't bring any plants with me so I'll be starting all over. My yard has the typical desert landscaping and the irrigation system doesn't work well. I have agreed to hand water for the time being (I like hand watering).
I would love any tips or ideas from you pros, heck I don't even know what zone I'm in!

Thanks,

K.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: New to Las Vegas, what will grow here?

Rocks grow well in Las Vegas. Okay, I'm being silly. I hope some of the southerners in this forum will provide better advice--I know it's wetter (barely) and hotter (considerably) in Las Vegas than in Reno, but it can get cold even in Vegas. It even snows there (rarely).

If you have itchy garden fingers, drive around older parts of town with neglected gardens, and look at what's thriving in those yards. Take pictures of things you like, and show the garden center people the pictures. That's about the easiest way I know to find truly reliable plants no matter where you live.


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RE: New to Las Vegas, what will grow here?

  • Posted by beca 8b-NV (My Page) on
    Tue, Jul 10, 07 at 13:47

Welcome K.

I'm over the hill in Pahrump (west of LV). Moved here in 2005 from southern California (south orange county-Rancho Santa Margarita). Gardening here can be done but it is tricky. Lisa has a great idea. You can also visit the Springs Preserve in LV. (info: www.springspreserve.org...ph:702-822-8344) near US-95 and Valley View Blvd. They have a brand new place that is free to walk through the gardens and check out the plants. They do charge to check out the new exhibits so call and see what interests you. Go visit Star nursery (I like the one off of Blue Diamond) or Plant World nursery (off of Charleston Blvd)...ask the people there. My place has roses, bulbs (not now), annuals (pansies/violas grow well here and re-seed)...also have desert plants that are beautiful: red yucca, lavendar, rosemary, olive tree,etc..lots more I can't name them...fruit trees (apple, peach,apricot)...we are also have 3 vegetable raised beds with eggplant, basil, tomatoes, cantalope, peppers, carots,etc...
It does get very windy at times so prepare well for that.
It will get cold in the winter too. Ask your neighbors about this past winter-alot of us lost plants because it was so cold. If you can consider a drip system...not sure if you can do this because of renting but it's well worth it. Maybe the owners would consider paying for it?? Who knows? You will tire quickly of handwatering.

Good luck!

Beca


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RE: New to Las Vegas, what will grow here?

Lowe's carries a nifty product I call "black spaghetti" with their RainDrip systems. It uses the same connectors, but it's 1/4" soaker hose like the bigger recycled tire stuff you can get as hoses. I made a whole tangle of "black spaghetti" and just wound it around on the ground to water plants that need it--the plants quickly grow to cover or at least sort of conceal it, and you can always pull it up again. No digging needed :-).

I suppose you could bury these little lines, but it's a lot easier to spot breaks and tears when they are above ground, and you only need a pair of utility scissors and some more connectors to set up, mend or add to the system.


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RE: New to Las Vegas, what will grow here?

Hello K,

Welcome to Las Vegas. We've been here for 17 years and it is a different world plant wise from a lot of California but can be rewarding especially if you try to grow the plants that actually like our brutal heat in the summer and tolerate our sometimes harsh winter chill.

Like Beca said you will probably get tired of hand watering eventually but if your desert landscape is well established and has real desert plants you may only have to do it once a week in the summer and less in the winter. Bulletproof plants here include the texas rangers (leucophyllums), lantana, Salvia greggii, Bird of Paradise, red yucca (Hesperaloe parvifolia), Sotol (Dasylirion wheeleri), Agaves, cactus, the wonderful desert trees, mesquites (prosopsis), palo verdes (Cercidiums), acacias and so much more.

It would help to know what you are interested in doing since you are renting and it sounds like the house is already landscaped. Also this is the very hardest time of the year to plant anything although if is one of the above mentioned plants and has been out in the sun and not under shade at the nursery it should be ok.

Beca has a good idea with going to the Springs preserve and the old desert demonstration gardens on Alta just east of Valley View. It is not nearly as nice as it used to be but you can still see some good plants. Also the Community College has a nursery in front of thier campus on Charleston that has a lot of plants in the ground that you can see what things look like mature and they have some great desert plants there also. Oh and for the best mature desert trees and a lot of other great plants you should go the Ethel M chocolate factory and cactus garden. It is off Sunset where it turns as Mountain view.

Hope you learn to love our great desert plants,
Maria


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RE: New to Las Vegas, what will grow here?

Hi All,

Thanks for the welcome and the great suggestions! I am going to make a list of places to go and view plants; that alone should keep me busy for awhile. I'm afraid I'm not as knowledgeable as you guys, definitely don't know the latin names for plants but I'm sure I'll learn with your help.

In California I loved flowering plants and since I was in an apartment I was a container gardener which I probably will stay.

In a couple of days I'll post pics of the current landscaping, there are two dead plants in the front yard but don't know what they are nor if they'll come back. There is a drip system but it is currently not working well and I before I knew any better said I would hand water and she could have it repaired later! The homeowner is a Californian as well and I'm sure not knowledgeable about how the terrain is out here.

Thanks again for all your help; I am in the Henderson area; how can I determine my zone?


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RE: New to Las Vegas, what will grow here?

  • Posted by beca 8b-NV (My Page) on
    Mon, Jul 16, 07 at 15:27

I put in Henderson zipcodes in the GardenWeb's zone finder in Tools & Directory section....

89014 or 89014 is zone 8.


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RE: New to Las Vegas, what will grow here?

Thanks Beca,

That's a useful little tool!

-K


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RE: New to Las Vegas, what will grow here?

I purchase a house and have not done anything with the landscape. The previous owner planted palm trees which was a mistake. Two out of the three palm trees are too close to the house. The front yard is mostly covered with rocks but I need a lawnmower to cut the grass and weeds that continue to grow thru the rocks. Im not sure if I should remove the palm trees or move the palm trees to another location on the acre lot.


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Moving to Las Vegas...

I just found this forum. Great starting point! My family will be moving to Las Vegas next month, August 2011, being transferred and I have plant's here in Baton Rouge that I was checking out to see if they are worth moving.
We have not gone to yet to see LV and was wondering where are good areas to live? We are 2 fifty year olds and have a 12 year old son. We are white and cool but not crazy! My wife's office will be near W. Charleston Blvd. and S.Tenaya Way. Thanks! MARK


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RE: New to Las Vegas, what will grow here?

Welcome to the desert Mark!

Your wife's office is near Summerlin which is one of the nicest suburb in town. Definitely a good place to look if you can afford it. There are nice apartment complexes also if you don't want to settle for a house yet. Pretty much anywhere along the 215 beltway is nice from the Southwest to the Northwest where I live.

Obviously, it will be hot and dry but there are lots of microclimates in the valley mainly due to winds so you should be ready to experiment and expect to lose a few plants the first year.

I'm struggling with climbing plants and vines but have had great success with tomatoes and sunflower plants (and cactus and succulents of course).

The sunflower experiment has actually been pretty rewarding: 1st year, I got 2 smallish flowers maybe 3 feet high that never fully bloomed but I left them there and this year (year 2), without me planting any new seeds, I got one huge beautiful sunflower that is currently 6 feet tall with a beautiful flower. Moreover, two cute praying mantis have made it its home and are eating the bugs found all over the leaves.


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RE: New to Las Vegas, what will grow here?

there are so many things that grow here.. seems like there is blooms on something year around. .. it is a dry heat here. 2 days ago the humidity was 4 per cent.. but a gardenia will grow. and lot of roses and the one i like alot is called a texas ranger.


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RE: New to Las Vegas, what will grow here?

I'm moving to Las Vegas in 2 weeks for a job, after container gardening in Chicago and Minnesota for years and um, yikes. Talk about a different climate!

I'm not a terrible gardener, but I'm completely clueless about how this whole "desert" thing is going to work to the point that I'm honestly not sure what to google.

I know it "Gets really hot" but I'm getting the distinct impression that my little tundra-dwelling brain is having the same amount of difficulty wrapping itself around the ramifications of "one hundred and fifteen degrees and dry" as my poor floridian husband's had as I explained to him "thirty-four below zero" ("what do you mean it goes BELOW zero!? Zero is the bottom.")

So this thread/forum has been incredibly helpful but I do have a few things I'm still confused on.
- Any good books/resources worth purchasing on containers gardening in the desert? I'm happy to do my own research, I'm just so terribly ignorant in this area any help would be great. (I checked out both of the nursery links)
- A lot of people mentioned that the soil gets HOT during the day. Right now I have a mix of ceramic and plastic containers but will probably leave them in minnesota with an aunt. Is there any particular type of container that's better for the desert? my brain says light colored plastic, but...
- Should I use a more water retaining soil than I have up here? I've used Al's gritty and regular mixes for the last few years with awesome results, but is a fast soil a worse thing when the water evaporates so fast?
- This is probably the stupidest question but the one I can't seem to find an answer to; Stuff that says "full sun" up here like my peppers or cilantro...would it be safe to assume that in full sun in vegas it would cook to a crispity crunch? How much "shade" is too much/ not enough for sun loving container plants?


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RE: New to Las Vegas, what will grow here?

As for books, my first suggestion for Western gardeners is the Sunset Western Garden Book. I suggest that rather than buying it, at least until you have examined it, is to borrow from a library. I believe Clark County libraries are part of the inter-library loan system that we use in the bush but I may be wrong about that. I have gone to Lowe's, seen something that was of interest, went to the Lowe's book shelf and looked the plant or seed up in the Sunset Western Garden Book for sale there.


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RE: New to Las Vegas, what will grow here?

This section is so helpful! My husband just retired and we are in the throes of moving to Las Vegas's Tropicana Palms Manufactured Home Park. Anyone live in that area, please do not hesitate to give me a heads up...we only know one person in the area so far!!


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RE: New to Las Vegas, what will grow here?

Sunset has a new book called the Southwestern Garden book. I am not familiar with it. Go to Lowe's and scan it to see if it has useful Las Vegas suggestions. Also, remember to check water cost in your area.


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RE: New to Las Vegas, what will grow here?

Las Vegas is definitely NOT wetter than Reno. It is, in fact, the driest major city in the country. Drier than Phoenix and Tucson, that's for sure.


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RE: New to Las Vegas, what will grow here?

Have already learned a ton from postings, what great folks. I just purchased a home and will be spending time in Las Vegas from September-April. Love the advice about drip system and plants that will succeed. Question, what about planters during the winter. Do succulents survive. You guys talk about winter, but I live in Iowa for goodness sakes. I know there is occasional snow, but can you cover your planters and hope for the best? Wow, big learning curve here. Will be visiting sites mentioned in posts. Again, thanks for such great info.


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RE: New to Las Vegas, what will grow here?

The USDA has finally released an update to the 1990 plant hardiness zone map. This new map incorporates a longer data period (1976-2005) and more accurately takes into account how elevation affects climate in the western United States.

Most of the Las Vegas is now listed as zones 9a/9b except for some of the western parts of the valley which are zone 8b. For outlying areas, Pahrump is zone 8a/8b, Mesquite is 8b/9a and Laughlin is 9b/10a.

Here is a link that might be useful: New 2012 USDA Plant Zone Map


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RE: New to Las Vegas, what will grow here?

Hello everyone Im new here to garden web and I also recently pick up a house here in las vegas. I have lived here all my life but now finally have the room to really build a garden! has anyone experimented will complimentary plants?

i am looking to grow veggies such as peppers tomatoes, etc.. and I had the idea of growing corn rows on the west side of the peppers and tomatoes to shad them from the afternoon sun. has anyone tired this or found good ways to protect the plants from the beating summer heat other than building a shade cloth screen thing?

thanks everyone!


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RE: New to Las Vegas, what will grow here?

I have really good luck with sunflowers, wildflowers, four o'clocks, and hollyhocks are really popular here in las vegas. I'm recently experimenting with california poppies and climbing vines.


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RE: New to Las Vegas, what will grow here?

@ MrRogersLV:

A wonderful source of information is Linn Mills, Horticulturist at Las Vegas Valley Water District, who regularly has a column in the Review Journal.

http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/gardening-linn-mills

Linn is also affiliated with the Las Vegas Springs Preserve, which holds quite a few workshops on gardening.

http://www.springspreserve.org/

http://www.springspreserve.org/apps/event/index.cfml?query=workshop

You can also contact someone with the Master Gardener program. Here is the link to submit questions online. Or you can call them at 222-3130. Years ago, they used to have info packets you could receive by mail. I don't know if they still do this, but it's worth a phone call to find out.

http://www.unce.unr.edu/programs/sites/mastergardener/askus/

Here is a link that might be useful: Las Vegas Springs Preserve


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VEGAS - Help for seedings in 5 gallon buckets

This is my 3rd year here in Vegas, trying container gardening and my 4th batch of seedlings this year... It seems the seedlings are having a dying off and when I do transplant into 5 gallon buckets they stop growing and die within a couple of weeks... With this new batch I have used worm compost for the first time but some are dying anyway! Part of the problem is that it is difficult with the dry air and wind to keep the pots from drying out at the top. I got some fish fertilizer (as well as trying other things) but that didn't seem to help much. I am trying everything to figure this out.


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RE: New to Las Vegas, what will grow here?

Thanks everyone for the great information. I also want to share this site that has also helped me with my desert gardening.

Here is a link that might be useful: Desert Gardening Tips and Ideas


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RE: New to Las Vegas, what will grow here?

I have been reading this thread. I hope your garden is progressing and you are discovering that creating a beautiful garden here is possible.

Here is a link that might be useful: Desert Rose Ramblings


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RE: New to Las Vegas, what will grow here?

Update:
My 4th attempt to grow in buckets on a partial shade porch was also a disaster with almost everything dying. I was told that earthworm compost was going to save the day! It didn't everything died anyway. I have a couple of things hanging on but they are pretty sickly looking.


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RE: New to Las Vegas, what will grow here?

@SynergyCeleste - In my experience, starting anything from seed in the summer is very tough. I have not grown veggies here (from seed or otherwise), but I do always have some nice containers of basil and assorted flowers (this year, zinnias) that I start using those Jiffy Peat Pellets. I'll get them started indoors late March or early April, using an old 9x11 cake pan. After they've germinated, I put them in a sunny place indoors (south-facing windowsill) until they are ready to move to a container outside. I keep the container in a completely non-sunny place (like under a tree, or along the north side of the house) for a week or two to make sure the new seedlings don't burn up in the sun. (That did happen to me one year!)

After they've been acclimated, I keep the basil on a table on the back patio, where it gets maybe two or three hours (at the most) of sun. The zinnias only get a few hours of morning sun. Ever since that killer heat spell, they have quit blooming. But I'm hoping that they'll start up again in September. They are not totally happy here in this climate, but the seeds only cost 10¢ so it was worth a try!

The planting medium I use is a mixture of bagged potting soil (no special kind) mixed with some natural dirt dug out of my yard. I also add pumice for good drainage. Make sure the bottom of your buckets drain well. I've had sprouts fail if I load the cake pans up with water and forget to drain off the excess after most of it has been absorbed by the peat pellets. I think it's a fungal issue.

Anyway, fall planting season is just around the corner! You could try getting some pellets started indoors for things that do well in cooler weather.


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RE: New to Las Vegas, what will grow here?

Thank for the reply. I was told to not use the peat pots because of the fungus. So this is my 4th batch this year and I used plastic cups and compost, which worked well. I think that if I start some seeds in another week that there will be time for a growing season if November doesn't turn cold. As for the Spring , I think I will have to start them inside in Feb or there won't be time for the growth before the June hot weather. My problem is that the Roots die when I transplant into buckets, for some reason... Also I am trying those crystal poly pellets and I think that is the only reason one of my watermelon is growing now.


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RE: New to Las Vegas, what will grow here?

@SynergyCeleste - You only get fungus if you leave the pots (peat or any other sort) sitting in water - which is also bad for the roots. It's ok to bottom water but you don't want the pots - of any sort - sitting in water any longer than it takes to soak up the water they need. I've been using peat pots for transplants for over 40 years and have never ever had fungus. Somebody doesn't know how to water properly if they're getting fungus on peat pots!

To keep the pots from drying out on top - or at least slow it down - put a good couple of inches of bark mulch or pine fines on top to act as a mulch.

Also make sure your buckets are white or some other light color. A black bucket or darker colored bucket will overheat the soil and kill the roots and stunt or kill your plants. Is there some reason you're not planting in the ground, or in raised beds?

Lets talk about your potting mix. It's a bad idea to try to grow in containers using dirt from your yard - there is just no way to balance the fungi and microbiota that brings with it in a container the way they are in the ground.

The best container mix is Al's mix, which you can get information about by searching on this website (not this forum, but in the gardening forums). However I myself have never successfully found everything needed to make Al's mix, and I haven't been able to find coarse vermiculite for years - so these days I get a good potting mix like Miracle Gro and use it about 2:1 with peat moss (2 parts soil plus 1 part damp peat)

For house plants or anything that's going to be left undisturbed for a long time I just use the potting mix - it already has peat moss in it and adding more acidifies the soil.

But for garden container growing, I'll add some peat. Peppers prefer an acid soil; tomatoes tolerate a fairly acid soil. You can add some dolomite to tone it down if necessary. I've never had anything in a container complain about this mix.

Note that my preferred mix (in the absence of Al's mix) is 1:1:1 good potting soil + peat + coarse vermiculite, but I haven't been able to find coarse vermiculite in years and the fine stuff is useless for potting soil.

I like the peat because it helps to retain water without leaving the soil waterlogged. But, you can't let it dry out because it is then very difficult to get it soaked again, and will likely cause some damage to roots in the process.

If there are no drainage holes in your containers, that is another problem. Even if its drying out on top, its possible that you are waterlogging the soil every time you water - which will damage the roots and can kill your plant. There needs to be drainage - and rocks in the bottom of the container don't do it. Use coffee filters over your drainage holes to keep the soil from washing out when it drains.

Finally your containers shouldn't sit on a concrete, stone, brick etc. patio if you can avoid it. Again, on the ground or on bricks just above the ground is best - because patios are a huge heat sink in this kind of heat. A wood deck is better but even those get durn hot in the summer sun.


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RE: New to Las Vegas, what will grow here?

1) You only get fungus if you leave the pots (peat or any other sort) sitting in water - which is also bad for the roots. It's ok to bottom water but you don't want the pots - of any sort - sitting in water any longer than it takes to soak up the water they need. I've been using peat pots for transplants for over 40 years and have never ever had fungus. Somebody doesn't know how to water properly if they're getting fungus on peat pots!
*1A) When I water it all goes to the bottom and leaves the top dry unless I spray the top with water. The so-called Master Gardeners at UNLV gave a load of Bad Advice and not to use peat pots, they said they don’t work here. I had a garden in Oregon one year and it was my first and only garden and never had any problems except for here in Las Vegas. The easiest things like Yellow Squash and Zucchini, won't grow here (For Me)!

2) To keep the pots from drying out on top - or at least slow it down - put a good couple of inches of bark mulch or pine fines on top to act as a mulch.
*2A) The problem with this is that it is difficult to put my finger in and test the wetness…I have just tried the polymer crystals around the roots and I think it’s helping quite a bit. But I don't have any problems trying bark again. I need to start a few more plants for the Fall and see if the temperature change makes a difference.

3) Also make sure your buckets are white or some other light color. A black bucket or darker colored bucket will overheat the soil and kill the roots and stunt or kill your plants. Is there some reason you're not planting in the ground, or in raised beds?
*3A) I'm using gray buckets and I have actually seen an empty one melting in the sun! So I agree that a white bucket is better. I don't have any money to build raised beds also WE HAVE NO GARDENING DIRT here and I am disabled, so I can't get on the ground because then I wouldn't be able to get up agein.

4) Lets talk about your potting mix. It's a bad idea to try to grow in containers using dirt from your yard - there is just no way to balance the fungi and microbiota that brings with it in a container the way they are in the ground. I like the peat because it helps to retain water without leaving the soil waterlogged. But, you can't let it dry out because it is then very difficult to get it soaked again, and will likely cause some damage to roots in the process.
*4A) If you lived in Las Vegas you would know that we DON'T have any dirt here, No SOIL here can be used for gardening! It's all clay with sand on top. It is hard as a rock, almost impossible to dig without heavy equipment. I have bought all my soil from Lowe's and added Dimetacious Earth for Fungus Gnats.

5) If there are no drainage holes in your containers, that is another problem. Even if its drying out on top, its possible that you are waterlogging the soil every time you water - which will damage the roots and can kill your plant. There needs to be drainage and rocks in the bottom of the container don't do it. Use coffee filters over your drainage holes to keep the soil from washing out when it drains.
*5A) Of course I drilled holes in the bottom of the bucket and on the side. But even when I put the plant halfway down in the bucket the wet dirt is at the bottom and the roots are dry!

6) Finally your containers shouldn't sit on a concrete, stone, brick etc. patio if you can avoid it. Again, on the ground or on bricks just above the ground is best - because patios are a huge heat sink in this kind of heat. A wood deck is better but even those get durn hot in the summer sun.
*6A) Well they are put on the ground by a fence that is partly shaded during the day... I guess I can get some 2X4's to put them on... I rent a huge manufactured home and the yard is 50X100, so there is quite a bit of land here to use but almost nothing that has enough shade. I have come to the conclusion that unless I have the money to build a shelter, that I should stick to growing Mar-May and Sept-Nov... June and July is up to 108! We haven't talked about the winds here, 40 mile and hour just rips up the plants even though I made burlap cage coats for them.

The problems I have here mean that the roots never get established and that's why they die.
Good Suggestions, Thanks


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RE: New to Las Vegas, what will grow here?

*1A) When I water it all goes to the bottom and leaves the top dry unless I spray the top with water. The so-called Master Gardeners at UNLV gave a load of Bad Advice and not to use peat pots, they said they don't work here. I had a garden in Oregon one year and it was my first and only garden and never had any problems except for here in Las Vegas. The easiest things like Yellow Squash and Zucchini, won't grow here (For Me)!

Well you are in LV and I am in Reno, and for all that it gets freaking hot here, it gets even more freaking hot down there. I can see the drying out thing with the peat pots - but not the fungus thing!

*2A) The problem with this is that it is difficult to put my finger in and test the wetness. I have just tried the polymer crystals around the roots and I think it’s helping quite a bit. But I don't have any problems trying bark again. I need to start a few more plants for the Fall and see if the temperature change makes a difference.

There is a moisture monitor available on Amazon for under $8. It works pretty well. You should be able to just jab it down into the soil a few inches. Pine fines (which are often sold as soil conditioner) might work better for you - IF it isn't very windy there. With the smaller bark mulches (don't get big chunks if you can help it), just pull some away from the top and see how things are doing. You can shove it back over when you're done, it really doesn't take much. You will need to keep the soil level a couple inches below the rim so you have room for the mulch.

*3A) I'm using gray buckets and I have actually seen an empty one melting in the sun! So I agree that a white bucket is better. I don't have any money to build raised beds also WE HAVE NO GARDENING DIRT here and I am disabled, so I can't get on the ground because then I wouldn't be able to get up again.

Any chance you can get someone to dig you a few holes, just big enough to bury the buckets? They don't even have to go all the way in, leaving the top 6" or so above ground wouldn't hurt. In fact you could mound the leftover dirt around them and maybe not even have to go that deep.

If they do that - will you still be able to reach them?

I know, I am disabled too. These things can be difficult. I wouldn't call what we have up here "soil" but it is at least somewhat amendable. A raised bed doesn't have to be expensive, either. You can use cement blocks or anything else cheap you can lay your hands on.

Wooden pallets are free, usually oak, and usually not too hard to break down. I would suggest contacting some of the local community gardens - you might be surprised, all you need is one or two volunteers to come down and build you just one raised bed out of pallet wood, that might give you at least the space to bury your containers so they are cooled by the soil instead of melting in the sun! Or they might have some even better ideas than me, and be able to scrounge you the materials you need. I would be glad to help - but I don't think my e-trike has quite the range to get me down there, LOL!

In fact pallet wood would be the perfect material to build your own "veggie trug" - look here:

Veggie Trug

Those things are nothing but 2x4s bolted together with 1x6 or 1x8 slats, and lined with landscaping fabric. I could build those out of reclaimed pallet wood. Might need to buy 2x4's for the legs and basic framework - but it'd work. I vote for looking for some help in this area from a local community garden. Or maybe you've got a friend who'd be willing to help. You (or your help) could build them to the perfect height for you.

I would use pressure treated wood for the legs and maybe the frame. I would paint it to protect it from the sun. If you can't manage the pallet idea, you can get 5' cedar pickets from HD for about $1.50 each. They are about 3/4" thick. In your area it seems they have 5/8" cedar picket in 6' lengths for under $2. The ones I bought here the other day are nominally 5/8" but measure 3/4", probably because they are not kiln dried.

Pallets would be free of course - but I think someone could build one of these for under $20 even if you had to buy the lumber. Keep it short - 3' or so, the GS one is only 40" long.

I don't know the nature or severity of your disability. I'm not saying you should be able to do this by yourself. I could still do something like this, if someone would bring me the pallets and help me pull them apart. It would take me for-frickin'-ever, compared to the good ol' days, but I could still do it. But even one or two of these could improve your situation, if you can scrounge some help to get it done. Maybe not in time for this growing season - but maybe in the not too distant future.

*4A) If you lived in Las Vegas you would know that we DON'T have any dirt here, No SOIL here can be used for gardening! It's all clay with sand on top. It is hard as a rock, almost impossible to dig without heavy equipment. I have bought all my soil from Lowe's and added Dimetacious Earth for Fungus Gnats.

Sorry - I misread a post that was TO you as being FROM you, where the poster said she was using part potting soil and natural dirt from her yard. But keep in mind, all potting soil is not equal. Some of it is nothing but black dirt-like stuff and sand. Is there peat in your mixture? I don't know because you've not said - if not, adding peat will help to lighten the soil and improve the drainage AND water retention. If you tell me the brand and type of stuff you bought, I can check it out at a Lowe's here and help you figure out if it needs to be amended, and if so, how.

*5A) Of course I drilled holes in the bottom of the bucket and on the side. But even when I put the plant halfway down in the bucket the wet dirt is at the bottom and the roots are dry!

I couldn't know that (about drainage) without asking. But from your description - wet at the bottom even with drainage and dry on the top - this tells me your potting soil isn't a good mix for your purpose. It seems to have poor drainage AND poor water retention - which is possible with some soil mixes. Mulching the top may help to even this out - but I think you may need some additional amendment. Even a good potting soil mix could be insufficient for your extreme conditions.

I know you've already poked holes in the side - but you really only need drainage holes in the bottom. It certainly doesn't seem to have hurt anything though.

*6A) Well they are put on the ground by a fence that is partly shaded during the day... I guess I can get some 2X4's to put them on...

No, on the ground is fine, as long as they're not sitting on a hot cement patio-oven, LOL! In the shade could be problematic if the plants don't get enough sun. But from everything you've said so far, it really looks like the problem is your soil mix at this point, exacerbated by the fact that you basically have to let the buckets sit out and cook. But first the soil mix.

*I rent a huge manufactured home and the yard is 50X100, so there is quite a bit of land here to use but almost nothing that has enough shade. I have come to the conclusion that unless I have the money to build a shelter, that I should stick to growing Mar-May and Sept-Nov... June and July is up to 108! We haven't talked about the winds here, 40 mile and hour just rips up the plants even though I made burlap cage coats for them.

Well that tells me that pine fines as mulch may not be your best bet, LOL! But right now the plants aren't getting far enough along to worry about drying from winds (on top of everything else).

And it may very well be that you will have to have reduced expectations for months when it gets over 100 degrees. But keep in mind - there are plants that will survive those temps, if they are established, such as peppers and tomatoes. They may not set fruit - but they should survive it with enough water. The problem is getting them established to start with.

*The problems I have here mean that the roots never get established and that's why they die.

Yes, that does sound like that is the main issue.

Hang in there, people DO grow stuff in LV. You're just having a steep learning curve, unfortunately.

If you could lay hands on some pallets and even just use them to shade the buckets, that would help. Narrow pallets or pallets cut in half laid on their side, like a wall, would provide some shading for the buckets while still letting sunlight get to the plants themselves.

Are you inside the city limits, or out rurally?

Another way to make a raised bed from pallets (a little fiddly IMO)

An attractive pallet raised bed using reclaimed shutters to make it pretty

Ultra cheap raised beds, but it takes a lotta pallets! I would use heavy duty landscaping fabric with these, not plastic liners, and you can use deck screws instead of air-compressor driven staples. Yeah, $5 - if you don't count trucking the pallets over or the $300 for the air gun, LOL! But if you can get the pallets - its super cheap and easy.

BTW you can get reclaimed building supplies from freelist in your area, sometimes craig's list. and from :

Las Vegas ReStore (Habitat for Humanity)

A list of some reclaimed building sources in LV

Hope some of that is of some use to you. Sorry if it's not.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to build a simple raised bed from reclaimed pallet wood


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RE: New to Las Vegas, what will grow here?

Thanks so much! A lot of good info to look through... I have shopped at Habitat for Humanity but I didn't know about the others. I had an idea for a wood and fiberglass lean to, that would go against the fence...but I don't have anyone to build it.
It's true that I have a steep learning curve but it seems that once I fix one problem, another one pops up. Anyway we'll see...


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RE: New to Las Vegas, what will grow here?

Your not in (kansas) california anymore. The plants you loved in California, well…will probably not do well in Nevada. Its hot, dry and did I mention the wind? So unless you want to be heartbroken by losing plants that you grew in California, take the advice of ljrmiller and only grow native plants that will survive with little water (since we have watering restrictions here too), and like hot, dry, windy weather. If your lucky and your new abode has a micro climate, (google it) you can grow whatever you want. Good luck.


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RE: New to Las Vegas, what will grow here?

1) NOT from California!
2) I had a garden 1 summer in Oregon in 1997, but if you knew about NW Oregon, you would know that you can't grow sun-loving vegetables there, like tomatoes and peppers there.
3) I am not interested in other plants, I'm interested in growing vegetables, that's why I moved; so I can eat, because I'm poor!
4) I can't afford any raised beds or fancy things! I'm only getting $15 in Food Stamps!


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