If you're just a casual gardener you might think that growing vegetables in the desert is a fool's errand, but you just need to learn a few techniques specific to the environment. This video shows how to design a "waffle garden" to grow vegetables in heavy clay soil. Like its namesake, a waffle garden is essentially a row of square cells in which you will plant your vegetables separated by berms of compacted clay soil. The shape helps any water flow directly to the plants, and since the clay alone can be too tough for the roots, the indentations also give you a 'container' in which to pour and mix your soil with hard clay. In the video, landscape contractor Roger Cook shows how he designs his garden in New Mexico. He starts by compacting the clay soil around the individual waffle cells, then breaks up the native clay with a pick axe and mixes it with sand and compost. When each cell is ready, Cook plants his vegetables at a depth of 1.5 times the diameter of the seed and gives it all a light watering.
As long as you learn a few techniques specific to the environment, even beginners can grow some healthy vegetables in the desert. But you can't grow waffles, unfortunately.
How to Grow Vegetables in the Desert [This Old House via YouTube]