This is an arid region. Average precipitation is about 15″ per year. We receive much of that during the monsoon season from July through September. These months sometimes present thunderstorms with extremely heavy, but brief rains, the proverbial cloudbursts. Winter snows should provide the rest of the moisture, but the last two years we’ve had dry winters, making spring and early summer especially dry. June is usually the driest month. This season the grass and ground were crackly dry, the danger of fire high. Hardly any sign of green, herbaceous plants. Now that the monsoon has begun there has been a few inches of rain and the ground is moist, but it doesn’t take more than a couple of sunny days and low humidity to dry out the surface.  New Mexico is finally turning green.

At most, we have a four-month growing season. To start a garden, perhaps in late May, you must water until the monsoon starts. If you have a well that produces sufficient water per minute, then you are in good shape. Otherwise, you must haul in water from neighbors or a fee-paid community well. You’ll need a few thousand gallons per month for personal uses and outdoor watering. That also means you need a truck and/or trailer that can carry a tank capable of holding at least a few hundred gallons. At about eight plus pounds per gallon that’s heavy.

There are very few undeveloped properties here that already have wells. The average depth you should be prepared to drill is 400′. Drillers charge by the foot and do not guarantee that you will hit water. You must pay regardless of hitting water. Fortunately, I’ve never heard of anyone not hitting water here in Candy Kitchen.

Ground water here, as in most of New Mexico, is slightly alkaline, but soft, unlike much of the state. When you wash your hands it feels like you can’t wash off all the soap or detergent. Otherwise, the water is good for drinking and cooking, but can be bad for tropical house plants because of the high Ph and other dissolved compounds such as Calcium carbonate. You will also see the difference between watering your garden with groundwater and watching your seedlings grow, then a great leap in growth soon after the beginning of the monsoon. The fresh, neutral rainwater will dilute the soil minerals and push some of those compounds deeper into the ground away from plant roots. So to grow many indoor plants you will need to correct the Ph to about 6 – slightly acid. There are commercial Ph reducers available or you can use small amounts of sulfuric, phosphoric or nitric acids along with a Ph meter or test kit to correct Ph. This maximizes the availability of most nutrients to plants. This isn’t possible outdoors, although you could scatter an acidifier fertilizer. But most of our garden plants are OK without amending the soil with artificial fertilizers. The best soil additive is compost with manure, which you may be able to get from some of your neighbors who have horses, cattle or other farm animals.