Drought soil conditions can be very challenging for vegetable growing. This list from High-Value Veggies shows which edible crops do best in drought conditions as well as things you can do to give your soil a boost.
You may also enjoy this introduction to Square Foot Gardening.
10 Best Vegetables for Drought Soils
This selection from the book High Value Veggies by Mel Bartholomew is provided by Cool Springs Press.
Asparagus can tolerate drought conditions once it is established.
2Beans (Bush & Pole)
If you can’t get beans at a good price locally, both bush and pole beans are good crops to grow. They are nutritious and a fun project for kids with their showy volume of stems, leaves, flowers, beans, and seeds.
If you are buying starter plants from a nursery, select ones with thick stems and no flowers. They will give your eggplants the best possible start and chance for success.
Mustard greens are a popular option for those who like a little zip in their salads and stir fries.
Known as a southern, heat-loving crop, you can also grow okra in cooler norther gardens. Okra does not like transplanting so avoid moving your plants. Pods need vigilant harvesting to allow the plant to continue producing.
Small and sweet peppers are the fastest growing. Bell peppers take longer. A month before first frost, cut back top growth and flowers so that the plant puts its strength into the existing peppers.
7Squash (Summer and Winter)
Summer squashes are those with soft, edible skins.
Winter squashes have thicker, protective skins which make them suitable for longer term store.
One challenge with tomato growing is to avoid too much or too little sun. The flowers will wilt in heat waves. Fruit may not have time to ripen if light is limited.
What are some aromatic herbs? Rosemary, thyme, sage, and oregano—each have a unique aroma and offer fresh flavors to our cooking.
Swiss chard may act like a perennial in temperate climates. For the rest of us, it’s a delicious annual vegetable that can be harvested any time.
Know Your Soil
Elizabeth Murphy literally wrote the book when it comes to soil. Her book, Building Soil: A Down-to-Earth Approach: Natural Solutions for Better Gardens & Yards, is a comprehensive guide to creating the perfect living medium for all your outdoor plants.
Murphy recommends a test as the first step to soil health.
“A soil test is very helpful, especially starting out. The test determines if the soil lacks a necessary nutrient. For the serious home gardener, test every three years, or when you notice problems or a decline in production.”
Simple Guidelines for Building Good Soil
- Provide necessary nutrients by testing soil and adding appropriate organic fertilizers.
- Feed your soil (yes, the soil is a living thing) on a schedule, using bulky organic amendments as often as possible.
- Keep your soil covered with mulch, living plants, organic amendments, or green manures (winter soil-enriching crops).
Tests and amendments aside, Murphy says there’s no substitute for becoming familiar with your soil.
“Know your soil texture.
That’s defined as the amount of sand, silt, and clay, and determines the soil’s properties.
In soil with a high sand or clay content, modify what and how you grow to match the soil.”
Garden Soil Tips
Soil | The upper layer of earth in which plants grow, a black or dark brown material typically consisting of a mixture of organic remains, clay, and rock particles.
Mulch | Placed on soil, organic mulch can protect soil, retain moisture, and gradually fertilize the garden.
Leaves | Finely chopped fall leaves make excellent mulch.
Leaf Mold | Decomposed fall leaves beneficial to soil structure.
Compost | Decomposed organic matter providing nutrients for the garden.
Potting Mix | Contains no soil: designed to optimize plant growth in pots.
Seed Starting Mix | A lightweight potting mix for sowing seeds in containers.
Soil pH | Knowing your level (which may vary) is informational, not a call to action. Most soils fall in the range of 5 to 8 and accommodate a wide range of plants.
Free Soil Calculator Tool | Estimate how much you need and what it will cost
Other Soil Types
Square Foot Gardening: High-Value Veggies
Homegrown Produce Ranked by Value
by Mel Bartholomew
High-Value Veggies is an easy-to-use reference book that will help you choose edibles that make the most financial and spatial sense for your space. Explore the thought processes and math behind growing vegetables and herbs in order to craft the best plan for you.
Free Online Soil Calculator Tool
Estimate how much you need and what it will cost.
- Garden beds
- Raised beds
- Window boxes
- Flower pots or urns
- Potting mix
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛
Seed Starting for Beginners
Sow Inside Grow Outside
by Melissa J. Will
NEW EDITION | Everything you need to get started with indoor seed starting for indoor and outdoor plants. Grow what you want—any time of year!
This ebook is a digital file (PDF format) you save to your device. It is not a physical product.
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Available for Canada & United States only.