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Growing Zones in New Mexico

Growing Guide for Fruits and Vegetables

New Mexico is a unique region, boasting as many as six climate zones. Its high altitude areas, varying growing seasons, and exposure to high springtime winds and extended drought periods make it a challenging location for gardeners. Nevertheless, the region offers interesting opportunities for those willing to take on the challenge.

In a single day, New Mexico’s weather can swing from severe temperature drops to hail, flash floods, and mild temperatures. The higher the growing zone number is, the longer the growing season is, enabling gardeners to grow a wider variety of plants. Central to southern New Mexico, for example, has longer growing seasons, whereas the northern areas have an average growing season of only 4 ½ months. Greenhouses can be a practical solution for those looking to extend the growing season.

To find out which crops are suitable for your zone and the recommended planting dates, check out this helpful link: https://www.almanac.com/gardening/planting-calendar

Simply enter your city or zip code in New Mexico for spring and fall planting options.

It’s important to remember to check seed packets for recommended planting zones. Hybrid and heirloom seeds of the same vegetable or fruit can have different days to maturity and even growing zones. Additionally, greenhouses draw more heat earlier and later in the year than growing in the ground without one, providing some flexibility to stated planting dates.

By planning ahead and using the right strategies, gardening in New Mexico can be a rewarding experience.

Growing Challenges in New Mexico

New Mexico is known for its unique landscape and climate, which can present a variety of challenges for those interested in growing food. Some of the major challenges of growing food in New Mexico include the arid climate, high altitude, and limited water resources.

One of the biggest challenges for growing food in New Mexico is the arid climate. The state receives an average of only 12 inches of rainfall per year, which is significantly lower than the national average. This lack of rainfall, combined with high temperatures and strong winds, can make it difficult to grow crops without adequate irrigation. In many areas of the state, farmers and gardeners rely on irrigation systems to provide the necessary moisture for plant growth.

Another challenge of growing food in New Mexico is the state’s high altitude. Much of the state is located at an elevation of over 5,000 feet above sea level, which can affect plant growth and development. At higher elevations, the air is thinner, temperatures are cooler, and the growing season is shorter. These factors can limit the types of crops that can be grown and the amount of time available for growing them.

Additionally, water resources are limited in New Mexico, which can pose a significant challenge for growing food. Much of the state is located in a semi-arid or arid region, and water scarcity is a growing concern. Drought conditions can make it difficult to irrigate crops, and groundwater resources can become depleted if not properly managed. This has led many farmers and gardeners to explore alternative irrigation methods, such as drip irrigation and rainwater harvesting.

Pests and diseases can also pose a challenge to growing food in New Mexico. The dry, warm climate of the state can provide an ideal habitat for a variety of pests, including insects and rodents. Additionally, diseases such as fusarium wilt and verticillium wilt can be common in some areas of the state, and can have a significant impact on crop yields.

Crop Eating Animals:

Our Solutions: Critter exclusion

23 gauge, ¼” hardware cloth
19 gauge, 1” vinyl coated hex mesh

High Winds / Extreme Weather:

Our Solutions: Strong tie-downs, connectors & structural components

We use ratchet straps that have a working load limit of 3333 lbs / strap and a breaking strength of 10,000 lbs / strap. A 70-mph ind produces a force of 12.5 lbs/sf, which produces a total force on our 12’ x 20’ model’s surface area of 4583 lbs. We use 3 lengths of straps on this model, as pictured above, meaning the cover alone has a working load limit of 10,000 lbs with a breaking strength of 30,000 lbs. Overkill? We’re guilty.

We use heavy-duty long lasting galvanized steel components to connect all bows, purlins, and end struts to make a solid cohesive structure. To brace for Northern Arizona snow loads our bows for 10’ & 12’ wide units are at 4’ centers rated at 40,000 psi yield / 45,000 psi tensile strength per bow. 24’ wide greenhouses are rated at 50,000 psi yield / 55,000 psi tensile strength and further supported by seven lengths of steel purlins.

Intense Heat and Sun

Our Solution: Adjustable low tech UV protected cover system for ventilation

Shade cloth blocks out mid-day hot sun

Low tech roll-up roll-down assembly provides more than adequate ventilation for cooling

Drip systems are easily integrated into raised beds, while mesh covers allow rain to add natural nutrients to the soil and plant roots

Soils of New Mexico

New Mexican soils can generally be described as sandy loam. It contains between 43-85% sand, 0-50% silt and 0-20% clay. It has less sand than loamy sand. Most vegetable growing takes place on flat land.  Much of New Mexico is steep, especially in the northern mountains. Many of New Mexico’s soils are either too shallow to bedrock, too rocky throughout, or too salty to grow most crops in. Only 2% of New Mexico is currently used for growing crops. To ensure success with growing plants and crops, soils may need to be amended and balanced with the right texture and by adding nutrients to ensure growth and allow water and air to reach roots properly. Raised beds help control the quality of amended soil for season after season. To have your soil tested, go to this link:

https://agsci.colostate.edu/divi-soiltestinglab

Our Solution: Structurally integrated container gardening system

Raised beds not only help control the quality of the soil; they also support the structure of the greenhouse so there is no digging or concrete involved, while lending long term stability.

Gardening Comfort / New Mexico Demographics

New Mexico’s population totals less than 2 million people, despite being the 5th largest state in the U.S. About a third of the residents are 45 years of age and older.  Studies show that 42% of Americans have started growing their own vegetables. Retirees have more time to garden but are physically limited as they get older. Up and down movements required when sowing seeds and weeding, squatting, and reaching while planting and harvesting all take a physical toll on the body that may discourage this activity.

Our Solution: An outdoor living space built for gardening & comfort

Simple! Benches on top of the raised beds for potting and entertaining.

In conclusion, growing food in New Mexico can be a challenging endeavor due to the state’s arid climate, high altitude, limited water resources, and pests and diseases. However, with proper planning, irrigation, and pest management, it is possible to grow a variety of crops in the state. Additionally, efforts to conserve water and promote sustainable agriculture can help ensure that New Mexico’s agricultural heritage continues to thrive in the face of these challenges.