Desert Vegetable Gardening has Unique Challenges and Benefits:
World Naked Gardening Day is the first Saturday in May, but here in the desert, our gardens can run year-around. The winter is mild, with only a couple of freezes for a few hours generally. We can plant a wonderful variety in the fall.
Spring’s last frost is usually before Easter. The previous several weeks of potted seeds will give us such fun as tomatoes.
In June, shade netting is required. Plants being stimulated by the 100F plus temperatures, wish to go to seed.
It is time for a garden. We start with the soil. I live in a desert meadow, where the soil has accumulated for centuries on top of a mountain of solid granite. It digs easily and is rich in nutrients, a wonderful sandy loam. With a few organic addendums, we have healthy plants.
Water is a problem. It is expensive and precious. It rarely falls freely from the skies. Watering in a city can knock the cost of homegrown veggies to having no savings at all. The rains are sparse to drought prone and then they are often a deluge. We set in a drip system that pops on for a half an hour a couple of times each day. The summer heat can dry the soil within hours. Desert plants are crafty. Typical vegetables are not. Shade netting is often essential.
Everybody has critters, but I’m not so sure that they are as desperate as ours. Living in the most biological diverse spot in the state, there are several potential thieves, who not only like greens, but will dig for the water that they smell. There just isn’t any feasting for them in a desert that can compete with what is in my garden.
To protect the crop, I designed a raised bed with a PVC hoop roof made with bread cloth wire mesh. This keeps out the birds, packrats, lizards and javalina.
I dug deep and laid the mesh under a 2×8 frame, which I complicated with roofing paper. If I hadn’t, the rats, gofers and other diggers would find their way in. The roofing paper also helps keep the wood from rotting, as the old wood stays dry in the desert air. No roots were set near the paper.
The hoop cage has loops that I tie it down with, to keep these neighbors from sliding under it.
The cage is very light, so, I can lift it one side at a time and prop it up for gardening access. It works pretty darn well.
With everything secure, water timer and watering drip tubes attached, we planted our two beds. I accumulated three kinds of mint and seven types of tomatoes, some of which are local heirloom. Herbs, various greens for salads and smoothies, spinach, chard, and more types of seed were spread along the tubes of the drip system. We then attempted to contain our excitement for all of the coming delicious organic nutrition in our future.
We had already begun composting, using a kobashi fermentation method with our waste. It is difficult to compost here because the regular bin methods tend to dry out. I created one out of an old trash can.
With amendments and minerals, through years, the soil gets more and more richly healthy in an organic manner. Great stuff can come out of a “desert.” The bacterial makeup of the soil is the same for the plants and it then follows that our bacterial makeup and balance, especially our gut, is determined by the makeup of the plants that we eat. It all starts with the soil.
Why a Garden?
Natural eating and naturist living go hand in hand. Feeling the body naturally is much the same thing as tasting a fresh living food plant, an herb, or learning the soil intimately with touch. From a naturist’s perspective gardening is living naturally. Then again, I’m always saying that just about anything I can do is enhanced by doing it without clothing.
I am being taught about my natural state by immersing myself into life in nudity. My awareness has increased; I have gathered spiritual highs and insights. I have become better acquainted with our ancestral heritage by walking closer to being in their shoes, or lack of them. This has given me greater understanding and appreciation of my body and its needs in its natural context. Naked, there is always something new to feel, to explore, to relate to in a different way. Our bodies complexity is a phenomena as its millions of pieces interact. I have come to value a natural health regimen. What could be more elemental than gathering food, like say berries. To be aware of which are best, when is the best time, how to twist and not bruise or crush, the smell of fresh, or experiencing the starkness of not enough and abundance. These are the same as feeling the sun in nudity, savoring its warmth and having clouds bury it.
I began a living food diet in hopes of conquering hypoglycemia, through the direction from Tree of Life Founder, Gabriel Cousins. This tasty much less processed diet has placed my demeanor at a more consistent level keel and given me greater peace.
Due to the change, I have noticed that the various vegetables that I get taste different. It is well known that the regular store bought veggies are different than the organic, but then I noticed how the different sources of organic show remarkable variations in quality. I can taste and feel the difference in the nutritional value. Picnicking straight out of DF’s local community garden plot, demonstrated an amazing tasteful difference. I wanted to enjoy this naked and have the convenience of a garden just out of my doorway. With some adaptation to unique challenges, voila, naked lunch.
I came to find out that plants lose up to 40% of their nutrients in the first 3 or 4 days after picking. Also the soil has a great impact on the taste. Many organic farmers are just throwing PPK on their dirt. There are enzymes, minerals, and much more organic live matter missing. The obvious thing, that I never was able to notice before, is that I have not been getting anywhere near the same food that I was raised on, or what my grandparents plucked out of their farms and ate into their nineties. What’s a guy to do about this? Grow his own garden, and do it right, and that includes doing it nude.
Back in the Day:
I used to love nude working/playing in my garden 30 years ago. I had a tall fence, a shade structure. I placed a more lifelike scarecrow there, which had a cute butt. I had used my then wife’s body as a template, cutting a sheet of plywood with a jigsaw. I dressed it in a workout uniform of white and red stripe short shorts and t-shirt, filling it out with stuffing. It used to scare the visitors. Some actually screamed and jumped in the evening with the full moon light. They thought that they had encountered an intruder.
Gardening was fun and relaxing. I loved getting dirty all over. My wife used to have me hose off before coming indoors, like a dirty kid. Some days, she would join me.
Construction in Privacy:
The best place for my garden can be observed from my prudish neighbor’s property. The free range challenge was to construct it in the nude and a plan for blocking of the neighbor’s view during later garden use.
I initially began digging when the neighbor kids were at school. I would dig in the morning in a more exposed position for the eastern bed. In the afternoon, when the kids got home, I’d dig for the west box where they would probably not get a view of my working bare butt.
I also noticed that a barrier that they used for their airsoft war games, blocked the view in my favor, from many lateral angles. The kids weren’t in the habit of playing in that part of their yard. My awareness of their position in play was always enhanced by hearing them. When they were out, like a parent, I always knew where they were playing.
As the holes got deeper, I piled up the soil aside, placing it between me and the neighbors.
Soon, I was digging in a hole with my lower body covered. I might have just had my shirt off to them, but then again they know we are nudists over here. The weather was lovely and I enjoyed gathering a good tan.
When I got dirty, it all simply washed off, a process of pleasure.
My niece’s husband came over to help out with the construction, but this meant that I consequently had to be dressed on the hottest day. It was an unusual 92F for the high. Fortunately, we were able to cut and assemble most of it in the shade of my porch.
The two of them had just moved to Tucson and it gave me a chance to interact with my new in-law. We got to know each other better. I told him that he should call before he comes over, confessing that DF and I are naturists and we would probably be naked if he didn’t call, which would make for a surprise. His reaction was, “Oh I probably wouldn’t see anything that I haven’t seen before.”
So I said, “Okay, I guess we don’t have to get dressed for you.”
He perked up and responded quickly, “Whoa, that’s not what I was saying!”
I smiled at that. Maybe I’m going to work on that one. He is the first in my family, outside of my son and his mother, to get the, “we’re naturist” news. He seemed to take it with no problems. I know that my niece, years ago, stated that when she worked for the forest service tagging owls, they would sometimes be roaming around in the wilderness areas unencumbered and skinny-dipping. I’m pretty certain that she is good with whatever her uncle does.
So, now with completion, I have privacy and I can work in my garden nude. The boxes are a foot to 1 ½ feet above the ground. The dome rises another 38 inches. This four feet, or so, creates a good barrier to the neighbor’s view into the area. I can now walk to the shed and beyond pleasantly naked without bothering to look out for others.
The hardware cloth does have ½ inch gaps, so there will be a flesh outline, but the detail of the vision is smeared by it. Adding shade netting for the tomatoes and the “susceptible to heat” plants, it will be effective, like a wall. Also, when the cage is raised and propped up to access the plants, it stands about 6 to 7 feet high. The garden’s housing has effectively created a privacy barrier for nude use.
I love strolling out in the cool of the first of my morning, barefoot naked. I feel the air and the warm contrasting sunshine awakening my senses. It is quiet and peaceful. I talk to my plants, as I harvest baby greens and mint for a healthy smoothie at breakfast.
I sip at the fruity concoction from a mug, seated on the shady western porch. Quiet and abundant natural life is all that I hear and see. I feel blessed. It is a prayer in gratitude, just to be living…
…Then come those happy desert plants, aka weeds, which find paradise in my beds!