These tips will help you get the most from your organic vegetable garden in drought conditions and drought-prone planting zones.
The post Organic Vegetable Gardening in Droughts: What to Know and How to Succeed appeared first on Big Blog Of Gardening.These tips will help you get the most from your organic vegetable garden in drought conditions and drought-prone planting zones.
The post Organic Vegetable Gardening in Droughts: What to Know and How to Succeed appeared first on Big Blog Of Gardening.Read MoreBig Blog Of GardeningGrowing leafy greens with drip irrigation.

By Guest Author Liz Carleton

Cities across the world are facing an increasingly challenging climate. This summer has been one of the driest on record in many regions, with some areas not seeing above-average rainfall in the past 20 years. It’s no secret that this will have an impact on organic vegetable gardening, especially in already drought-prone planting zones. Fortunately, there are drought-resistant organic vegetables and crops, and there are many ways to ensure that your organic veggies thrive even in a dry climate and arid conditions. 

Drought Basics

A drought is a prolonged period of below-average rainfall, often resulting in water shortage. The amount of rainfall a region receives each year varies naturally, but it’s important to remember that droughts can last more than one growing season and have been known to last decades in some areas. There are many different types of drought, each with unique causes and consequences. A drought can be natural — caused by weather conditions such as El Niño or La Niña — or man-made, such as a water shortage due to an environmental issue like climate change

What Veggies Grow Best in Dry or Drought Conditions?

Drought conditions can be tough for any gardener, but particularly for those who grow their own vegetables. Even if you have your own backyard or small garden outside your house, a drought can make it challenging to keep your plants irrigated and thriving. These tips will help you get the most from your organic vegetable garden in drought conditions and drought-prone planting zones.

When choosing vegetable seeds, look for “drought-tolerant” or “drought-resistant” on the package or on product information pages when shopping online. These plants have evolved over time to survive in extremely dry conditions and will thrive in your organic vegetable garden. They need less water because they have features that help them conserve moisture. Just keep in mind that drought-resistant plants have different watering needs than plants that area adapted to plentiful water conditions. Remember that a cool, dry, and dark location is the best place to store your seeds, as heat and moisture will greatly reduce their longevity. 

Here is a list of some of the best organic veggies for drought or dry conditions. 

Eggplant

Varieties such as Black Beauties are delicious, nutritious, and very easy to grow. They can be planted almost anywhere, so you can grow them even in dry conditions. 

Okra

Baked, fried or pickled, okra is as versatile as it is easy to grow in dry or drought conditions. It thrives in dry soil and will grow quickly. We recommend Clemson Spineless, Eden Brothers’ All-America Selections winner. 

Zucchini

Zucchini and other summer squashes are easy to grow and thrive in dry soil. Try Golden Zucchini – sunny, bright, and delicious! 

Arugula

Arugula is one of the best drought-resistant leafy greens, as it is simple to grow and can withstand dry stretches. Its peppery taste actually gets stronger the more extended the drought period is.

Also mustard greens, tomatoes, pole beans, and peppers.

Planting Tips 

Before you sow your seeds in the spring, make sure that the soil is sufficiently warm and not waterlogged. If your soil temperature is less than 65°F (18°C), many seeds will rot before they germinate. You can buy a soil thermometer at any garden shop to determine the temperature.

We recommend planting in rows, which can be done even if you have a small space to work with. Mark the location of a row and dig a furrow at the correct depth. Some seeds might not germinate, so sow more seeds than the number of plants you ultimately want. Using fine soil, cover the seeds. Firm them in with the back of a hoe, or in a small plot, the palm of your hand, to ensure that they are completely covered.

How Do You Water a Vegetable Garden in a Drought? 

Watering your garden can feel like a constant challenge during drought conditions. However, if you know what plants you have and which ones need the most water, you can prioritize your efforts. Here are a few tips for watering a vegetable garden during a drought without breaking the bank.

Install a Drip Irrigation System

Drip irrigation systems move water from a central source to each plant via a network of pipes or hoses, which can be turned on and off as needed. With drip irrigation, you can water your garden throughout the day in small amounts, meaning your plants get the water they need without as much water waste. This is especially important in arid areas, where most water comes from non-renewable groundwater. You can buy ready-made drip irrigation kits to install in your garden or build a DIY system.

Utah State University Extension plans for building a DIY drip irrigation system for your home garden.

Use a Rain Barrel

If you have a rain barrel, you can use it to collect water and then use that water to water your garden. This way you can make good use of rain that falls on your roof.

Mississippi Watershed Management Organization instructions for installing a rain barrel.

Water at the Right Time of Day

It is important to deeply water plants to encourage a healthy root zone. Watering in the early morning or in the evening, when the sun’s rays won’t have a chance to evaporate the water before it reaches the plant’s root area, will help ensure that the plants receive enough water.

Other Tips for Growing Organic Vegetables in Drought or Dry Conditions

Build up your soil to retain water

A good soil foundation is essential for successful gardening with limited water. Soils with a lot of organic matter are able to retain moisture better than soils that are highly porous or gritty or that have a high clay composition that allows little water percolation to plant roots. Regular applications of compost accomplish this.

Mulch

Apply mulch around all of your plants to keep weeds away, retain moisture, and nourish the roots. Straw is a highly effective mulch.

Use “Gray Water”

Re-use your dishwashing and bath water. But check with your local officials first to find out if there are any regulations regarding the use of gray water. 

Don’t Use Chemical Fertilizers

When plants are fed with synthetic fertilizers, they grow faster and have more leaves and stems, which makes them thirstier. Instead of using chemical fertilizers, improve the soil’s water absorption and storage by using compost and organic fertilizer (see above). 

Use Wetting Agents

When soil becomes very, very dry it has difficulty absorbing any water at all. At that point it may be advisable to add a wetting agent. Wetting agents enhance a liquid’s ability to penetrate the soil by reducing its surface tension. Spray the wetting agent over the ground before watering, or better yet before a rainfall, to help the water penetrate. Read more about wetting agents.

If you follow these tips, you’ll be able to maximize each drop of water, keep your plants growing during a drought, and reap the benefits of a plentiful harvest full of delicious organic vegetables! 

Author’s bio: Liz Carleton is a full-time writer who covers subjects ranging from travel and tourism to family histories and gardening. A University of Georgia graduate, she splits her time between Athens, Georgia, and the North Carolina mountains where the diverse climate suits her passion for growing flowers and veggies. Having traveled the world, Liz has a keen interest in how climate change impacts the planet. Her research on drought-resistant gardening stemmed from recent travels to India and the western US. She is a regular contributor to Eden Brothers and has written numerous articles for their Gardening 101 resource center.

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