A desert garden in July

Our garden is starting to do well. The GrowShack structure was designed and built by Stephanie Smith and Hi-Desert Barnraisers, in consultation with Rhonda Hayes. The soil was made from scratch by me, under consultation with compost wizard Tim Dundon — during 2010-11 I composted a mix of woodchips and sawdust from Alma, horse manure from the McHales and leavings from our kitchen, which I then combined with some native sand. In other words, no chemicals, no fertilizers…nothing store-bought or big industry-made went into this dirt. All of the plants were purchased as starters from Mornings Nursery in 29 Palms, except for one of the grape plants which was a branch we got from our neighbor Miguel. Photos by Stephanie Smith.


About Jay Babcock

I am the co-founder and editor of Arthur Magazine (2002-2008, 2012-13) and curator of the three Arthur music festival events (Arthurfest, ArthurBall, and Arthur Nights) (2005-6). Prior to that I was, amongst other things, a district office staffer for Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a DJ at Silver Lake pirate radio station KBLT, a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications, an editor at Mean magazine, and a freelance journalist contributing work to LAWeekly, Mojo, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vibe, Rap Pages and many other print publications and online outlets. An extended piece I wrote on Fela Kuti was selected for the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 anthology. In 2006, I was one of five Angelenos listed in the Music section of Los Angeles Magazine's annual "Power" issue. In 2007-8, I wrote a blog called "Nature Trumps," about the L.A. River. Today, I live a peaceful life in the rural wilderness of Joshua Tree, California, where I am a partner in JTHomesteader.com with Stephanie Smith.
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5 Responses to A desert garden in July

  1. jenna says:

    Look at that! verdant in the middle of the desert – and SOIL! – in the midst of all that sand.
    So it looks like its enclosed with chicken wire? What purpose does the corrugate serve – besides making the plants stand out and look great in the photos?

    • jay babcock says:

      Jenna – That’s aviary wire. It’s the floor, the roof and the walls. Keeps out the critters. The corrugated sides (courtesy of Blake) are there to protect the plants from the high winds.

  2. Jenny Nazak says:

    Fantastic! Thank you for showing folks the way. By visiting your blog I learned a bunch of things at once. For one, I learned there’s a permaculture community, at least a small one, in 29 Palms! Very encouraging. I always try to tell folks in Austin to take a page from the book of desert water-harvesting and soil-building techniques. Water harvesting expert Brad Lancaster, of Tucson, has said that most deserts are human-made. If that’s so, then most deserts can be revitalized by humans teaming up with nature via permaculture design principles and ethics. Thank you for your example! – Jenny Nazak, Austin Permaculture Guild

  3. Pingback: ALL PRAISE IS DUE TO RHONDA LYNN HAYES | Learning to Live Here

  4. Oh my this is lovely, I truly want one but in a rental I think I will stick with my cheapo fences. I’ve though about corrugated for the bottom but wel..l um… I have covered too much backyard now to do it all. haha

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