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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Gardener Moving to Las Vegas from San Francisco

Q. My husband found your site. We are facing the possibility of a move to Las Vegas. We have never lived in a desert climate. I am hoping to continue my love of gardening with vegetables, flowers, and a water garden like I have here in the San Francisco Bay Area. My biggest problems here have been raccoons, squirrels, aphids, and powdery mildew. Will any of those be things I will face in Vegas? What are the biggest pests/problems I should prepare for? (I'm praying you don't say scorpions or fire ants!)
            Also, my great love is dahlias. I have about 44 plants here, though ironically our summer was so cool that it was a poor year for us (our tomatoes were also a disappointment, and I sure hope that won't be the case in LV). How well to dahlias fare in Vegas, and will they bloom at a different time of year? Should I consider putting them in double pots and not in the ground (we've talked about raised beds with high quality soil)? Someone told me that grasshoppers are so bad there that I will need to completely fence in the whole garden area with small mesh wire to block the bugs out, is this true? What are your thoughts?
            I realize this letter contains a lot of questions... but any help you can give a life-long gardener or who very nervous she will have to give up all the plants she loves would be greatly appreciated

A. Well Shannon... we do have bark scorpions but we don’t have very many fire ants. Those are pretty rare and relatively easy to control so far. So take a deep breath... it’s not so bad. The desert can be beautiful.

            No raccoons in the Las Vegas area. No grey squirrels but we do have ground squirrels which some call chipmunks which they aren't but they do look a little like Chip and Dale. They can be pesky.

            We do have some aphids in the spring but they disappear when it gets hot. Powdery mildew is relatively rare compared to San Francisco. Dahlias will be tough for you in Las Vegas. We can produce some wonderful vegetables and fruits here and you will find them rivaling in quality to what you can find at the Farmers Markets in San Francisco.
Ground squirrel

            Now the bad news. This is the desert. Growing things here will be NOTHING like what you are familiar with. You will have to relearn your gardening skills and adapt them to the desert climate. Your new mantra will be compost, compost, compost. And everything will revolve around water.

            Yes, you have a lot to learn but think of it as an adventure and your gardening skills will be tested here. No "throw a seed in the ground and watch it grow" here. Thats why I am here. Feel free to ask. By the way, the grasshopper story is totally far-fetched. You will need a shotgun. (Just kidding, it is not that bad ......... most years) :-)

Maybe some others here can give you some pointers.

1 comment:

  1. You might consider taking the Master Gardener training from the Cooperative Extension here in Las Vegas. You will learn all about gardening in the desert. Great program.