It’s not a reach to say Coachella Valley residents have tried their hand at desert gardening at some point.
A simple potted display, an herb garden, or even the more adventurous crop of veggies. Let’s face it, the arid climate that welcomes wind; the clay based dirt/sand soil; the unforgiving heat of the sun makes even the most optimistic green thumb a bit defeated.
Desert resident and gardening enthusiast Angela Fasano (pictured at right) has been through the wringer.
“It’s hard here, I’ve gotten discouraged,” says Fasano. “I’ve tried so many things. I once thought the garden was attacked by a raccoon. I got a cage. I called animal control and I found out I was actually betrayed by my own family member. My dog, digging up my garden.”
Fasano is no amateur:
• She has been with the Coachella Valley Water District for eight years in management and conservation as a Water Management Specialist.
• She is a Certified ISA Arborist, a Landscape Irrigation Auditor, and qualified for Tree Risk Assessment.
• She’s currently taking a plant identification course at COD to become even more familiar with plant botanical names.
She will be among a group of featured speakers at the Ninth Annual Desert Garden Community Day from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 18. This free event will take place by private entrance at the Living Desert Zoo and Botanical Gardens in Palm Desert.
Guests will have the opportunity to learn about conserving water, creating a beautiful desert garden, and supporting local wildlife. Fasano’s presentation will focus on her experiences of creating a sustainable vegetable garden.
Planting a viable veggie garden can be a challenge. Even the experts get discouraged. There are so many obstacles to dishearten the most determined desert gardener. Fasano, however, is positive that practice makes perfect.
“I’m always learning, trying something new,” she says. “It’s a lot of trial and error to see what works. It’s really difficult here, but don’t give up. Plant what you like, but try different things.”
Tried and True Tips
• “I try to stay away from fertilizer and use organic pest control methods…it takes longer but it’s worth it. I have used cornmeal to battle ants/fire ants. For some reason, they take it back to the nest and it works.”
• “Vary your planting location because lighting can affect healthy growth.”
• “Variety matters. Some tomatoes work well in the desert…some do not.”
• “Basil and Rosemary are drought tolerant herb choices.”
Desert Garden Community Day, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 18 at Living Desert Zoo and Botanical Gardens, 47900 Portola Ave., Palm Desert, 760-346-5694, www.deserthorticulturalsociety.org