10 Drought-Resistant Crops for Your Edible Garden
A drought can be devastating for crops. Without water, most crops are limited and produce lower yields, and whatever is able to be collected is usually poor quality. There are a few crops that can resist drought, and are great to grow in areas where water availability is not guaranteed. Here are a few recommendations of plants that can continue to thrive even during extreme heat or without water:
Not all beans are drought-resistant, but certain southern varieties like Southern Peas, White Acre, Asparagus Beans, Lima Beans, Garbanzo Beans, and Mat Beans do well without much water. These varieties, because they are firmer, handle heat much better than green beans or other crops. These beans are all generally grown in the south, where very hot, dry summers are common, but they’re reliable anywhere that heat is high and water is lacking.
Avocados cannot grow in wet, soggy soil or cold climates. Instead they thrive in hotter, drier areas, like deserts or areas experiencing drought. While they do need some water to grow to their fullest, they prefer a slow, deep watering and need well-drained soil.
Kale is a hardy biennial that can bear both extreme heat and cold. Plants should be positioned in full sunlight for best results, and are known to be both drought and heat tolerant. In general, kale does not attract much disease, making it an easy plant to care for before harvest.
When most people think of cotton, they think of clothes, but cottonseed oil has many culinary and health benefits, and many cooks are beginning to use it in everyday cooking. It’s typically grown commercially and isn’t generally recommended for the background, but its drought-resistant properties make it deserve a special call-out. A combination of deep taproots and lateral roots help cotton make the best of what little moisture surrounds it, helping it to thrive in drought-prone areas. Cotton does well in warm climates, and if it encounters drought it simply stops growing and waits for conditions to get better, but doesn’t die.
Corn generally does well in hot climates, but still needs water. Recently though, drought-resistant hybrid corn has come on the market, and has done very well in trials. The new corn hybrids have been bred and genetically engineered specifically for areas where drought is an issue. Farmers who tested the products confirm that they grow well even in areas of extreme to exceptional drought. Heirloom varieties that were historically grown in the 1930s dustbowl also do well in today’s drought afflicted climates.
Certain tomatoes are meant to be grown in hot climates. Medium-sized tomatoes like the Tropic VFN, Neptune, or Ozark Pink VF continue to produce even in very hot, dry weather. Look for tomato varieties that flower early and mature in time to be picked before the hottest months. It’s also a good idea to look for varieties with thick stems, as they’ll be more likely to withstand wind and exposure that’s common during a drought, and disease resistance, as blight spreads more easily in hotter climates. In the UK a lot of people will chose to farm these in allotments or inside a shed or if they are lucky enough a garden room like those available from http://www.gardenspaces.co.uk/garden-rooms/garden-rooms/ to keep the temperature up.
Watermelons are especially tolerant to disease, which is excellent in a climate where sometimes heat can trigger fungal diseases. Watermelon is easy to grow as it does well in most soil, and once established is one of the most drought-tolerant plants you can grow. Their crisp, sweet flavor makes them an easy to grow crowd favorite, even in difficult climates.
Some call it zucchini, some call it squash, but whatever the name, it grows well in a drought. Cocozelle Zucchini, specifically, needs a hot growing season to flourish. This variety takes longer to sprout than other types of zucchini, and needs a very warm soil to thrive. The sweet flavor and minimal seeds make it a great option to grow in an area that doesn’t see a lot of water, and it can be cooked simply as a side dish or baked into bread.
Swiss and rainbow chard are some of the best choices for growers in the South, or anywhere where drought is an issue. Chard grows well in very sunny areas, and takes longer to go to seed than many other plants. At the same time, it is very easy to grow and can generally be harvested within about 60 days. Chard is not only drought tolerant, but also heat tolerant, making it an ideal choice for anyone gardening in a warm climate.
Peppers are a great crop to grow in a drought, as they can be used in so many recipes and cuisines. All peppers need a long, hot season to grow to their fullest and most delicious, making them perfect for drier climates. Bell peppers like the Charleston Belle and Carolina Wonder thrive in dry heat, and almost all hot pepper varieties do well with little water. Hot peppers are usually more resistant to disease and pests as well, though they can take longer to mature than sweet peppers.