Produce. In the desert?! You bet. But for home cooks who move to Southern Nevada from four-season climes, trips to the area’s farmers markets can feel a little discombobulating. Used to peas in the spring? Wild strawberries for a hot June minute? Here, summer squash shows up in May, and native leafy greens are the norm, not the exception. “If you think about our climate, we have not one growing season, like New York or Boston, but three to five,” says Angela O’Callaghan, Southern Nevada social horticulture specialist for the University of Nevada, Reno. It’s as easy to harvest in the desert as anywhere, O’Callaghan says, with (lots of) proper watering and by offsetting soil imbalances (ours is salty and full of boron). “We can grow things here that would make you say, ‘I don’t know if that’s possible!’” To prove it, check out the above guide to shopping seasonally for produce grown in and around Las Vegas. (Click on the image to enlarge.)
Where to Shop: Las Vegas Farmers Markets
Country Fresh Farmers Market, Thursdays at 240 Water St. in Henderson; Fridays at 200 S. Green Valley Pkwy., CountryFreshFarmersMarket.com.
The District Farmers Market, Thursdays at Green Valley Ranch, ShopTheDistrictGVR.com/FarmersMarket.
Downtown 3rd Farmers Market, Fridays at US 95 at Casino Center Dr., Downtown3rdFarmersMarket.com.
Fresh52 Farmers Market, Fridays at Whole Foods in Town Square; Saturdays at Tivoli Village; Sundays at Sansone Park Place at 9480 S. Eastern Ave., Fresh52.com.
Las Vegas Farmers Market, Tuesdays at 10401 Gardens Park Dr.; Wednesdays at Bruce Trent Park; first and third Saturdays at Floyd Lamb Park at Tule Springs, LasVegasFarmersMarket.com.
How Does Your Garden Grow? Tips for Harvesting on Your Own
What’s the key to reaping produce from Southern Nevada’s dusty ground? Water strategically, O’Callaghan says. “You don’t really have to break the water bank to have a vegetable garden.” She also offers these pro tips.
- Use a drip irrigation system that waters your plants’ roots (not the weeds).
- Mulch with a layer of straw or hay. “It’s like putting a thermal blanket on plants and keeps water from evaporating.”
- Incorporate compost. “It’s like adding thousands of itty-bitty sponges into the soil. We want soil to be moist, and [compost] makes the watered soil moist, but well-drained.”
- Grow celery. “You’re never going to get it as good as it is from a store, and it uses a whole lot of water that people can’t afford.”
Want to be a desert gardener? Click here for a helpful booklet from UNR’s master gardener program.