This is John Kohler with
Today I have a very special episode for you. We’re here in the Mojave Desert on the border
of Arizona and Nevada, and I mean this is the desert and check out, behind me you can
see the standard person’s back yard. And this is how most people deal with the desert.
They might have a few palm trees, like two palm trees, and they’ve got gravel filling
their whole lot. Now man that is an entire and a lot of space that you could grow lots
of food on. And most people will do this for the low maintenance, but you could do that
for low maintenance, but you could also do this, what we have here in this back yard.
So they have a whole bunch of fruit trees, this is the mini-orchard section here going
in, they’ve got planting a few trees at a time, that’s the back fence they’ve
got grapes and even more fruit trees and there’s some rare pomegranates over here. And they
have all these raised beds too, and we’re going to go talk with Ronnie, he’s been
gardening in the Mojave Desert for over 20 years. I’d consider him an expert in growing
here because he’s been doing it successfully for a long time. So he has some techniques
that he’s going to share with you today so that you can be successful growing in the
Mojave Desert or any other desert around the world.
So now we’re here with Ronnie and we’re sitting in front of one of his actually four
raised beds, and you can see as this kind of galvanized fencing material over the top
with some wood. And so we’re going to ask him more about why he has this, and before
I even get into that, now is the time to plant your seeds and your starts in southern Nevada,
whether you’re in Vegas or the Mojave Desert or probably even Arizona, definitely now is
the time, it’s cooled down a little bit, and you can get away with planting your winter
crops or your fall crops like they’re doing here. So Ronnie tell me more about what this
is and why you’re using it. Okay John, what we got going on here is I’ve
got some really inexpensive galvanized fencing, and you can get this at any hardware store,
very inexpensive. And after we’ve planted all our seeds, what we’ll do is we’ll
just put this over the top of our raised bed, and just put something to hold it down, and
this will keep the cats out of our garden, because they’ll come in here at night when
we’re sleeping and they’ll dig up and they’ll do their business and they’ll
just ruin everything. And also birds, birds don’t like flying under here. Sometimes
we’ll get little baby birds, but usually they’ll stay out of here, so it really comes
in handy. And then, it has a dual purpose because what I do is I take the same little
piece of fencing, and I make an arch like this, and then in the summer, I can shade
everything with some shade cloth, because it gets so hot here. The ground temperature
on these plants in the summer time, this ground temperature will be upwards of 125 degrees.
So you’ve got to keep them shaded or your plants are only going to last a few days.
But with just a little bit of shade cloth, I can keep stuff growing out here literally
all summer. And this is a fall garden, so what I’ll do is instead of shade, when it
starts to get really cool in about another month, because we do get a winter here, the
desert gets really cold at night and warm during the day in the winter. I’ll put some
sheets over here, and those sheets will trap the heat in here, and the plants will do fine.
These are collard greens coming up here now, and I’ll have these collard greens my wife
and I will be eating fresh collard greens for wraps and salads every day, they’ll
be coming up here in about another 10 days to two weeks we’ll be eating them, and then
we’ll be eating them for the next three to four months every day, just coming out
here picking them free. And this is kind of what I’ve learned, the least expensive way
and the way that seems to work the best out here in the desert, whether it’s the cold
winter desert or the extreme hot summer desert, this little system works fine for me. By the
way I’ve got this bed going down about a foot, so by being in the ground like that,
it keeps a constant temperature. So as long as I just deal with the above ground temperature
with the sheeting or the shade cloth, the plants will do just fine.
These are mostly greens over here, this is will be some bok choy, some lettuce, collard
greens, greens like that. Over here we’ve got some zucchini that’s just about to come
up, over here some other kind of Vietnamese vegetables that [inaudible] has. We plant
them now because if you planted the seeds any earlier than this t hey would get fried
and the baby plants won’t be able to make it. We just ended our summer garden and cleaned
everything out about two weeks ago, and so there’s about a month period between the
summer garden and the winter garden where we don’t get anything, but we still get
the fun of growing everything and waiting for it to come up. And then we’ve got grape
leaves. We grow the grapes and these grape leaves are so fantastic to eat. And I’ll
literally have these for six months of the year, I’ll take a grape leaf every morning,
put a date in there and a couple almonds, roll it up and you’ve got fresh fast raw
organic food that is some of the greatest food in the world. These grape leaves by the
way, I’ve researched this. Roman armies, when they would go out on their expeditions,
sometimes they would go hundreds and thousands of miles. They mapped and they followed the
vineyards because they know that their soldiers could go out there, eat these grape leaves
while they’re on their marches, it was free it was fast it was easy, and it gives them
super nourishment because when you just pick something off the plant like this and you
eat it, it doesn’t get any fresher than that and that’s when you really get those
living enzymes and all the good stuff that’s in these plants. And this grape leaf, this
is a Thompson grape, I think I might have paid three dollars for the original grape
vine. They grow so prolifically out here in the desert you literally can’t kill these
things. They don’t require any attention, any special vitamins or minerals or anything.
I just give them a little bit of water. Of course when I initially planted it I put some
rock dust in there and some organic compost and minerals, but once they get going they
don’t require any kind of work or attention, and we’ve already eaten the grapes, the
grapes are gone, but we’ll have these grape leaves for probably another month, and I’ve
been eating grape leaves for almost four months now fresh every day. [inaudible] that they
are super-nourishing and they do have a lot of nutrients in there that you don’t get
out of some other plants. Vining plants have different nutrients than plants that are going
to grow in the ground or trees in an orchard. Every different category of plants usually
offers some kind of different mineral, and grape leaves definitely have powerful stuff
inside there. So do you have to get a specific variety of
grape so that you can eat the leaves or can you eat the leaves off any kind of grapes
and do some leaves taste better than others do you know?
Absolutely. You can’t eat all of them. You want ones that are green on both sides. Some
grape leaves that you’ll find up in the northwest, they’ll be green on one side
and then you’ll turn them over and they’re kind of like white on the other side. You
want what we call greenbacks. Green on the front and green on the back. I’ve tried
different varieties, these are called Thompson seedless, but they’re not seedless, they
do have seeds so I don’t grow seedless fruit. But they’re called Thompson seedless because
the seeds are so small. But these are delicious, and especially if you wrap them in something.
You could just cut them up and put them in your salads, but Greek dolmas, you could go
back in recorded history 3000 years, and you’ll hear about people eating raw grape leaves.
Greek dolmas have been in their culture and their food for thousands of years. You go
into a Greek restaurant today and you’ll get dolmas, but they’re using cooked grape
leaves. We eat them raw. Now here’s another plant that really does
well out in the desert – this is a pomegranate, and you can see here’s one. These will be
ready in about maybe three to four weeks. This is a Bulgarian, and what that means is
you can eat every part of the fruit except for the hard outer shell. Some pomegranates
you can just juice them and get the juice out of the seeds and spit out the seeds and
you can’t eat the flesh. But these Bulgarian pomegranates you can eat every single bit
of it except for the hard outside shell. And these grow so prolific in the desert, they’re
kind of like the grapes. You cannot kill these things. I literally do nothing to them except
I’ve got a little drip system under there that gives them a little bit of water every
day. It’s hooked up to my sprinkler system so it comes on on the timer every morning,
gives them some water, and that’s it. I don’t give them any special anything, they
love neglect. And pomegranates are another one of those foods like grapes that you’ll
find references if you read the Bible, pomegranates were one of the first fruits ever mentioned
in any writings in the Bible. In Chinese literature pomegranates are one of the first foods thats
mentioned in any writings by human beings. So when I see these things grow when I hold
one of these things in my hand, it’s like I’m going back in history, and I’m thinking
that 3000 years ago this is what people ate, this is what they lived on, and Min and I
we juice them, we eat them, we love them. And this tree is literally – this is the
third year, and I think right now there’s probably 20 big pomegranates that are going
to be coming off of this tree, but I have some at our farm that we have seven different
varieties of the pomegranates, and we have some that literally, you’ll get two to 300
pomegranates off of one tree. And again when you think about something that requires no
work that gives you so much, it also gives you beauty. This thing is a beautiful flowering
plant before it sends out the fruit. It’ll flower for about a month, and look at it every
day it’s great to look at, it’s just a great, great plant to have in the desert.
So now we’re in another area of Ronnie’s garden off their sun room and they have a
little area, a little raised bed area against the sunroom, and besides growing in a raised
bed next to the sunroom, they’re also growing in pots, so we’re going to talk about two
important crops that they grow here that they actually like a lot. So we’ll let Ronnie
talk more about it. Well one of the things that we really like
growing is aloe vera. And I don’t know how many different types we have growing here,
I’ve got one back here, a Japanese aloe vera that John, you gave me at your place
about a year ago, and this one is totally edible. You can eat the skin, you can eat
all of it. This aloe vera here is another variety, and what we do with it is we make
a juice. Min will skin the aloe vera, make some orange juice, then take the meat from
the aloe vera, mix it with the orange juice in a blender and you’ve got like an Orange
Julius, a fizzy raw aloe vera Orange Julius type of a drink and it’s fantastic. And
we’ll drink that once a week. And sometimes I’ll just chop up some aloe vera and throw
it in a salad or whatever, little bits and pieces. Aloe vera is very great for you. Tastes
good, it grows prolific without having to do anything to it. We really like finding
those things that take the least amount of work out here in the desert because for one
thing, there’s only a small window of opportunity in the summer to work out in the desert. Once
it gets past about 8:30, 9:00 in the morning in the heat of the summer, it’s too hot
to work out here, everything needs to be shaded. But things like aloe vera, they just do fine
by themselves. This – I guess it’s a vegetable, I’ve
heard it called Chinese chives, and I think it’s a member of the chive family, but Min
actually brought these in, smuggled them in on an airplane about 15 years ago for her
garden in California. In Vietnam every house just about has these growing alongside their
house or in a garden somewhere. It’s called he, and it’s written H-E, Vietnamese, just
like you would say “he,” but it’s pronounced “ha.” And it’s kind of like a chive,
it grows like grass. You can just clip it and it will just keep growing and growing
literally forever. I’ve got some back here that’s gone to seed, and once it’s gone
to seed you can’t keep cutting it and it won’t keep growing back, but you can plant
the seeds. So Min grows a few and lets them go to seed so she can give those to friends
so they can take them home and start growing their own. But this stuff is so fantastic
in salads and in wraps. You can put it in anything and it tastes good, and we usually
let it hang out of the end of a wrap so you’ve got the visual effect of it also. But this
is another example of what I would call a real superfood because it’s super easy to
grow, it’s super prolific, once you plant it you can literally grow it for years and
years and years, and it works well in almost any raw recipe, this stuff is great. I suppose
you could cook it and put it in stir-fries and things like that, but since Min and I
don’t cook anything, we just eat it raw. But you could eat it right out of the garden
like that and it’s great, it has such a wonderful taste. It’s a member of the chive
family but it doesn’t taste like an onion, it doesn’t taste like a chive it’s a little
sweeter. The texture is nice, and again, look at what we get here in the desert with almost
no care. And you can see John, here again we’ve got the protection from the cats,
because if I didn’t have this fencing in here, none of these plants would be in here.
A cat would get in here at night, dig up everything and leave with a smile and I’d have no food
left. So we’ve got the fencing in there for the cats, I’ve got my little drip emitters
all over here that I use to water wherever I need it, and the thing that I like about
the drip emitters is that I’ll come out here and I’ll see a dry spot, and then I’ll
know, I’ve got to move the emitter over here, it’s not getting enough water or put
it in another emitter. It’s so inexpensive and easy to do and fun.
So I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode, learning more about what is growing on here in the
Mojave Desert. Once again, you can be like over here and you can grow pebbles or have
rocks in your back yard, which I believe is a terrible waste of space, why not grow something
in that space, even things that are going to grow easily without much care like a fruit
orchard? Grow pomegranate trees, grow fig trees, literally plant the trees, put some
water on them, and you can have a fruit orchard instead of just plain rocks. I mean after
all, that is what Ronnie and Min have done here in their amazing backyard garden in the
Mojave Desert. Would you guys like to say anything else?
I’d just like to say thanks John, thanks to all your viewers to giving us a chance
to show and share our gardening tips or methods with you, and whatever you do enjoy your garden,
find some way to get outside and have some fun, and keep on growing.
Once again this is John Kohler with, and remember keep on growing.