High desert gardening

Asked August 9, 2018, 4:06 PM EDT

I'd like to find a list of plants or publication which details plants which can be grown in Silver Lake/the Outback. I'm interested in food plants as well as landscaping plants, and what requirements they may have to grow in this very extreme area.

Lake County Oregon fruits and vegetables ornamentals high desert gardening horticulture

2 Responses

I am currently working on your question about gardening in Silver Lake and will complete my response by the end of the day today. Thank you for your patience.

Sorry for the delay. I hope the information below answers your question.

It is always a good idea to have a soil test before starting a project, especially in a spot you have not gardened before. Here is a link to a list of Central Oregon options. http://extension.oregonstate.edu/deschutes/sites/default/files/Horticulture/documents/SoilSampleInfo...

Native soils in Central Oregon generally need to be amended with organic material, such as compost or aged manure (free from weed seeds, disease pathogens and herbicide residue). This will improve water-holding capacity, increase soil microorganism activity levels, and improve the overall fertility of the soil. Ideally, sandy soils should have 2–3 percent organic matter.

You may want to consider mulch but consider how the mulch might affect the moisture and temperature surrounding your desirable plants. I have included a couple of links to informative articles about high desert gardening and mulch. Both are from University of Nevada rather than Central Oregon but are relevant.

https://www.unce.unr.edu/areas/southern/files/pdf/columns/MulchInTheDesert.pdf
https://www.unce.unr.edu/publications/files/ho/2006/sp0610.pdf

https://extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/default/files/documents/1/veggardcalendar.pdf


It's helpful to include as many native plants as you can as they will be well adapted to the area and will attract native pollinators and beneficial insects. Food crops and flowers will benefit from having the pollinators and the beneficial insects close at hand.

Because of the climate variations, even though USDA says Central Oregon is zone 6, it is probably safer to grow plants that thrive in zone 3-4 at your elevation.

In deciding on plants that are adaptable to the area, choose those that are non-invasive and ornamentals, or natives that perform well in the intermountain west or Rocky Mountain states. Some of the more adaptable trees include crabapples, red oaks, red maple, ponderosa pine, blue spruce and serviceberry.

OSU has a helpful article about growing vegetables in Central Oregon. You can find the publication here.

https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/catalog/files/project/pdf/em9128_0.pdf

A good resource in our area is the Lake County Extension office. Their contact information is below.

https://extension.oregonstate.edu/lake

Lake County Extension

103 S E Street
Lakeview, OR 97630

541-947-6054