My inital garden was in a relatively flat area on the mid-east area of Tucson. We were renting at the time, but our landlord was very willing to let me dig up the ground to plant a garden. It began as a compost pile. One day I threw some store-bought cantaloupe into the pile and that is where my garden began. In the time leading up to us moving from this site I learned several lessons.
The first lesson I learned was to not grow in native soil. I would amend and amend my soil with compost time and time again just to have it quickly revert back to its light-colored brick hard consistency. The second lesson came from growing plants in containers. I quickly learned that the sun cooks anything above the ground and that, for the purposes of insulation from dramatic temperature shifts and water conservation, the best solution would be a lowered garden bed. In a conversation with another member of the Tucson Organic Gardeners (TOG) noted that you cannot grow in the soil here and said that the best thing to do would be to grow in straight compost. At the time, I agreed. I hope to expose some of the benefits and drawbacks of such an approach as I relate how a compost garden worked for me.