According to participants in the bi-annual Master Gardener’s Tour in Pahrump, one would never know we are in one of the driest places on earth.
The self-guided tour held Saturday mapped visits to six vegetable and/or herb gardens in the valley. The gardeners talked to participants and answered questions about some unique methods used for pest control, plants which grow here and other tidbits.
The route was up to the individuals who paid $3 to take the tour.
“This gives me hope,” said one woman from Idaho who recently moved to Pahrump. Wherever one started there was something to learn.
Beginning at the Master Gardeners location on Calvada Boulevard and Dandelion Street, Claudia Fetcho told tour attendees she learned recently about using dog hair in a nylon sack to keep away ground squirrels and rabbits.
Others on the tour recommended Irish Spring soap pieces along rows, and coyote urine purchased from Home Depot for the same purpose.
At Rosalie Shepard and her daughter Mona’s garden there was over an acre filled with plants from bromeliads, which are tropical, and desert-loving cactus. The garden featured tropical-feeling areas with umbrellas, awnings, lounge chairs and iced-tea tables under low-hanging trees and herb and raised vegetable gardens.
The paths are flanked by fruit and decorative trees, water-spouting fountains with a luxurious lawn and flower gardens.
The Shepard’s critter deterrent is to feed the rabbits outside the fence. Rosalie Shepard said, “This way they don’t have to trouble themselves to find a way in because they’re well-fed outside the property.”
At another location, Les Corey keeps moles, chipmunks, tree rats, rats and other garden menaces out with a buried tin fence and stands about two feet above ground. Corey maintains a beautiful vegetable garden on an acre of land from which he cooks, cans and preserves what he raises.
Frank Rucker’s garden is beds of vegetables, including beautiful Prosperosa eggplant.
Rucker, too, has a technique. He uses “Silver Mulch” which is actually a kind of fabric that covers the ground around a plant, keeping out unwanted insects and keeping the ground cool. The product also reflects the sun’s rays instead of absorbing them.
He raises okra, squash and thriving rhubarb, asparagus and a variety of other vegetables. The Silver Mulch can be ordered from Johnny’s Seeds or Territorial Seed catalogues, according to Rucker.
Dan Shea’s garden is primarily raised beds filled with beautiful eggplants, peppers, tomatoes and cantaloupes laid out in an open area not far from the mountains making it a gardener’s magazine cover-like view. Raised beds are either stacked soil that has been amended, or soil which is contained above ground by cinder blocks or other materials.
The Fall Garden Tour will also be well worth the time to learn and be surprised by what Master Gardeners know about gardening successfully in the desert.
For more information, contact the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension service at 775-727-6199.