Just wanted to start a thread to get helpful info on growing in the southwest. The first major thing I would recommend is adding a humidifier to the drying area and trying to maintain the humidity around 40%. One of the biggest things going against us is the low humidity. Flowers dried with little relative humidity get crispy and are usually harsh. With low humidity, usually below 20% flowers can dry as quick as a few days. The best thing to do is try to slow that dry time down to about a week. Using a small humidifier and a fan work great to help out.
Also the biggest two pests we have out here seem to be thrips and spider mites. I know it seems too good to be true, but regular sprays with a 2% rosemary oil spray, up until flowers appear, can eliminate mites and eggs. There is a product called sns 217 from sierra natural science that works wonders on all life stages. It can also be made at home for cheap ( $4 to $6 a gallon). I have used rosemary oil preventatively for mites and have not had a problem at all. The rosemary oil does nothing at all to the leaves and does not stress, clog pores, or leave a foul taste like neem can. Just don't spray with the lights on and don't spray the flowers. This is purely organic, and does not harm the end user or the one spraying the plants, plus it smells great. I have not seen a single thrip, brown spot, or any sign of a bug since I started using the rosemary. Sierra Natural Science also sells a thrip spray with the active ingredient being clove oil at at 1.5%. I have started mixing my own rosemary spray and plan to add clove oil to the mix after testing it on a few leaves.
Hope to see some good tips for growing in our region.