Tips From Olle Garden Bed for Growing Low-Water Vegetables in the Garden
Scientists predict that the world is becoming increasingly warm and dry. Faced with this certainty, many gardeners are seeking ways to conserve water or looking for drought-tolerant vegetables that have evolved to thrive in hot and arid regions. What types of drought-tolerant vegetables perform best in low-water gardens? What are some other tips for growing low-water vegetables? This content also has some reference value for Olle Garden Beds.
Tips for growing low-water vegetables
While there are many varieties of drought-tolerant vegetables to choose from, without some planning, extreme drought and high temperatures can even kill the most resilient vegetables. Planting at the right time is crucial. Start planting early in the spring to take advantage of warm weather and a quick start to the growing season, or plant later in the fall to minimize irrigation usage and take advantage of seasonal rainfall that benefits you.
Add a 3 to 4-inch (8-10 cm) layer of mulch, which can reduce watering needs by half. Use grass clippings, dry leaves, pine needles, straw, or shredded bark to keep the soil cool and reduce water evaporation. Additionally, raised beds are more helpful in retaining moisture compared to open beds. When planting drought-tolerant vegetables, plant in groupings or offset patterns instead of straight rows. This will provide shade for the soil, preventing it from cooling down and moisture from evaporating.
Consider companion planting. It's simply a method of grouping crops together for mutual benefits. The Native American "Three Sisters" method, where corn, beans, and squash are planted together, has been practiced for a long time and works well. Beans fix nitrogen into the soil, corn acts as a living bean trellis, and squash leaves help keep the soil cool.
Use drip irrigation for watering. Overhead watering is not very efficient, with much of the water evaporating from the leaves. Water your garden in the evening or early morning, between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Water more when the plants are young and reduce watering as they mature. An exception is when the plants start producing fruits, reintroduce additional water for a while, and then reduce again.
Drought-tolerant vegetable varieties
Drought-tolerant vegetables are typically those that mature quickly. Other options include mini or dwarf varieties, such as sweet peppers and eggplants, which require less water for fruit development compared to their larger counterparts.
Here's an incomplete list of drought-tolerant vegetable types:
Rhubarb (once established)
'Hopi Pink' corn
'Black Aztec' corn
Asparagus (once established)
Green-striped Cushaw squash
'Yukon King' cantaloupe
Sugar Baby watermelon
Various legumes are drought-tolerant, including:
Cowpeas (Black-eyed peas)
"Jackson Wonder" Lima beans
Leafy greens like amaranth have poor water tolerance, similar to many tomato varieties. Bush beans and pole beans have short growing seasons and can rely on residual soil moisture.
Growing healthy drought-tolerant vegetables requires strict adherence to a watering schedule when plants are young and not yet established. They also benefit from a layer of good mulch cover to prevent drying winds, feeding with organic matter-amended soil, and for some plants, the use of shade cloth to mitigate the impact of scorching sunlight.