Jnob
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Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2012 9:51 pm
Location: Deming, NM

Growing tomatoes in the desert

I am trying to grow tomatos in the south NM desert. I bought 4 50gal. plastic drums and had them cut in 2 for 8 lg containers. I am using a mix of 1/3 desert dirt ( DIY adobe used to be the preferred building material here) mixed with saw dust and 1/3 store bought top soil mixed together. The final top third is Miracle Grow Garden Soil. I put in a sprinkle of Osmocote too. I am mulching with straw. I am placing the containers on the east and north east side of the house where they will get afternoon shade and protection from our west winds. Our humidity level averages around 10%. We get 7 to 9 inches of rain per year so of course I will be watering a lot.
I'm hopeing all of the tomato experts on this blog can tell me if there is anything else I need to do to be successful.
J2

Dillbert
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Joined: Sun Apr 04, 2010 7:29 pm
Location: Central PA

the soil being done, not too much open to change there.

SW soils are apt to the alkaline side with lots of other salts - a whole bunch more composted materials would have been a good thing. but done is done - let's see how it goes.

with the heat and low humidity deep watering may become your biggest issue. tomatoes do not like widely fluctuating moisture levels, nor continuous dry. one trick: 1-1/2 pvc pipe - drill 1/2 inch holes along the length, set it down the the bottom of the barrel (do _not_ fill it with soil) - that can be a easy path for water to soak down into the lower parts of the container soil. the mulch is essential.

another issue you may encounter - ambient temps. when the day&night temps are constantly too high, tomatoes blossom, but don't pollinate / set fruit. depending on your altitude, etc., this may or may not be an issue.

Jnob
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Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2012 9:51 pm
Location: Deming, NM

Growing tomatoes in the desert

Our altitude is around 4,500 ft.. I like the idea about the pipe to deliver water evenly. I am hopeing to get some fruit set before it gets really hot in June. July actually cools off a bit once the monsoon rains start. I plan to continue my gardening experiment into the fall. We usually don't get a hard freeze until mid December.
J2

Jnob
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Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2012 9:51 pm
Location: Deming, NM

Growing tomatoes in the desert

I forgot to mention that day/ night temps fluctuate about 30 degrees, ie 90 to 106 day, 60 to 75 night. Once the sun goes down it cools off pretty fast.
J2

Duets
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Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2012 10:43 pm
Location: West ~ zone 11

I also reside in the desert...NV. When I use PVC pipe for watering, I use a rubberband, with a coffee filter over the end to be put into the dirt, to keep the dirt from backing up in the pipe. Give it a try!

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Garf
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Location: Miami, FL

I'm more interested in growing in the swamps. I am in Miami Florida.

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lorax
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Location: Ecuador, USDA Zone 13, at 10,000' of altitude

High-altitude desert here. Your setup sounds good; the pipe suggested earlier in the thread is indispensable, and you might have to rig shade-cloth to get the blossoms to set. Which varieties are you growing? That will also be important, since some types, notably beefsteaks, are very difficult to grow in desert conditions.

Brant
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Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 7:40 pm
Location: Phoenix, AZ

I am also a desert gardener and have much success with tomatoes. I have drip irrigation on a timer in order to keep them watered evenly. The one bit of advice I would give would be to reconsider planting on the north side. They will be much better off with more sun even though they will get hot quicker. You can always put some shade cloth up later in the season. I have plants on the north and south side of my house and the south side is blowing the competition out of the water.
Brant from Phoenix

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