What Plants Do Best In A Drought?

David Trammel's picture

I know we have quite a few experienced gardeners here. This article made me wonder, what food producing plants would do better in a Summer of low rainfall or water scarcity?

What Survives a Drought?

I think there is going to come a point where you plant a mix of crops where some do well with low water inputs and some that do well with lots of water at the start of the year. And then just except that a portion of your garden dies. You might have alternative crops which can be started in the later months of Spring or Summer and can grow into the Fall or early Winter. Climate weirding seems to also mean garden uncertainty.

I think next year, I'm going to learn to pickle.

ClareBroommaker's picture

What is a drought is relative to how much water your garden is "accustomed" to getting. What is a drought to me in eastern Missouri would probably just be a little less rain than normal in, say the west plains of Kansas.

Still, I do water my garden, though this year it needed less than in all the 40 years I've gardened in Missouri. The article you linked mentioned some good things that I do grow and that do well in a drier summer. Like cowpeas (black eyed peas/ crowder peas/ pink eyed peas /yard long beans, also called asparagus peas). But even those can only take so much drought. I think it was in 2012 that the Texas area that grows a lot of black-eyed peas commercially did not produce a crop to speak of, and later that year none were available in any grocery store around here. It took a couple years for them to come back to the stores, and when they did, they were one of the more expensive legumes rather that the cheapest. So, no, I cannot count on cowpeas/ black eyed peas.

A crop I have never seen wilt in my garden is sweet potatoes. I've always said they are one of my most reliable, go-to crops. I had not really even thought until just now that they are probably pretty good for when it doesn't rain much, or when I cannot water.

If my area were to turn consistently, year after year drier, I think I'd try a few things. More mulching, if I could find the organic materials. A little bit of shading from above to reduce evaporation. And perhaps a reversal of raised beds: sunken planting beds or troughs so that roots would be closer to deeper soil moisture and the sides of the sunken troughs would shade some of the plants for part of the day. And, boy would I make use of grey water. As is, I use very little grey water.