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High Oregon Desert Gardening

Jul 20, 2013
Season:

We live in LaPine OR where there can be frost any day of the year.  Our daily highs in the summer months May through August are in the 80's to 100's with lows in the 30's-40's.  Does anyone have advice for what vegetables grow in these extreme temperatures and growing tips?

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I need to mention also that we are at an elevation of 4200' with no body of water nearby to act as a heat sink for warming night temps. We have sandy volcanic soil that does not hold water. We are ammending the soil by composting and adding steer manure, compost, bark etc which takes time. The high drainage makes fertilizing and nutrient uptake difficult for plants and the daily heat from high elevation sunlight is a factor. We would love advice and input. We have put in a small greenhouse and have a 60% shade cloth over the top. We have Early Girl tomatoes, Washington peppers and zucchini which at the moment only are producing male flowers... any advice to encourage female flower production!!!!!
check out this site, you should be able to get the information you looking for. http://extension.oregonstate.edu/deschutes/sites/default/files/em9027complete1.pdf
small scale and instant measures could be frequent watering with brewed stinging nettles tea and/or compost tea/compost solution, as they act as instant fertilizers along with watering.(nettles tea: 10kg/20+lb of stinging nettles into 40ltrs/10,5gallons of water; put into a warm spot; aerate daily; will be ready in a few weeks when it stops frothing; dilute one part of tea to 20-30parts of water prior to application - very important!) You can also use rocks as heat traps. large scale solutions on inclined ground could be swaling or putting in artificial ponds(may be). If you can get your hands on some quantity of rotting wood you could consider building hill-beds(Huegelbeete) as the rotting core will hold moisture better, but keep them well mulched and make sure you have an irrigation ditch at the top for watering. Search terms: swales / Bill Mollison / keyline concept / Sepp Holzer / Krameterhof / Huegelbeete / Tamera, Portugal, "Water is Life"
PS: if You are plagued by strong and dry desert winds You could consider the Santorini solution: dig shallow (about 2'deep and up to 8' across) basins and surround them with low stone walls(mortar-less). Then plant into these basins. Drying winds will be kept off this way and the stones should also act as heat traps to some extent. The best is to try out many different solutions simultaneously and see what works best. This way You should be able to settle on some concepts within a few years. Observation. observation, observation!

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