Drought conditions don’t have to be a nightmare for gardeners. You simply have to plan your landscape a little more carefully, with two goals in mind: to capture and retain as much natural moisture as possible, and to add as little water as possible. You can choose from a wide variety of drought tolerant plants that will fit your plan beautifully, with no worries about violating the latest water usage laws.
Does that surprise you? Most of us don’t think of vegetables as drought-tolerant, but many of them originated in locales around the world where water is in very short supply. Drought tolerant veggies add unique colors and textures to your garden, and you can eat them, too. No sacrifices there!
Like all plants, veggies need water to get up and growing. But once established, low-water varieties will need only minimal additional help from you. Exceptions are when they start to set fruit or if we get into another extreme dry period. Be sure to cover the ground with mulch, to keep roots cooler and retain soil moisture. Here are just come vegetables that are water misers:
Both bush and climbing varieties of beans will thrive in drought conditions as long as the temperatures are not excessively high. Snap beans, garbanzo beans, and moth beans are good examples. Kids love to grow tri-color “green” beans.
There are several varieties of tomatoes that do exceptionally well in drier climates. Early Girl and roma or cherry types are just some of the most popular varieties.
Onions and Garlic
Onions and garlic appreciate soft soil, since they do most of their work underground. But once you plant your onion starts or garlic seeds, a little water is all it takes for them to flourish.
Both sweet and hot pepper varieties are excellent choices for gardeners who are minding their water. After all, where do those famous Hatch green chilies come from? Southern New Mexico. Smaller-fruited varieties of sweet peppers such as Baby Belle require less water. Another member of the pepper family that does beautifully – and looks stunning in your garden – is eggplant. Choose one of the mini-fruited varieties.
Yes, indeed. Juicy watermelon, honeydew, and cantaloupe melons are easy to grow where there is little rainfall. Melons grow on vines and lay close to the ground. Of all of the drought tolerant vegetables, melons contain the most moisture without having to be watered frequently.
Summer and winter squash are all good choices for your drought resistant garden. Italian varieties of zucchini, patty pans, cucumbers, spaghetti squash, and decorative gourds are just a few options. And what squash do kids love most? Pumpkins! Grow the vines on a trellis, or plant compact bush types, which also do well in containers. (As do many other smaller veggies.)
But don’t stop there
Why not grow rhubarb, artichokes, asparagus, Swiss chard, or corn? They’re all drought tolerant, too. So are culinary herbs such as oregano, thyme, rosemary, and sage. Even in dry conditions, your garden can be deliciously productive if you choose the right veggies to grow. In fact, with proper planning, dry gardens can produce just as much as those in areas where water is abundant.
All plants need water from time to time. But if you’re a veggie lover, rejoice in the fact that you can have the water-wise garden you need to stay under your water usage limit and still include a wide variety of tasty vegetables, too.