When you plan your crops you have no idea what the weather will be in summer when your vegetables need water the most. Herbs, plants from the Mediterranean and grey leaved plants tend to withstand drought conditions better than most. Some vegetables once established can be more tolerant than others and if you expect low rainfall this summer give them a try.
Drought Tolerant Vegetables
- Leeks need to be ‘puddled in’ when planting in a hole but from then on they will send down strong roots in search of moisture. Earthing up for blanching by drawing soil around stems helps preserve some moisture.
- Root vegetables like Parsnip and Carrot can survive dry conditions as long as they get well established
- Onions will tolerate low rainfall but I find it encourages sets to run to seed. If you expect a dry summer you may want to grow from seed raised plants . As you will incorporate a lot of humus as compost when preparing an onion bed this should give them a great start.
- Marrows and Rhubarb will survive on low moisture but the size of the crop will suffer. I tend to give them a good one off soaking if I want to boost the size of the crop.
- Spinach beet is the best leafy crop for drought conditions.
Tips for Moisture Retention in a Drought
- Prepare the soil deeply and incorporate as much water retaining humus as you can find.
- Mulch by adding a 3 inch layer of mulch to your vegetable beds. Try mushroom compost on brassicas and manure on beans and peas.
- Water at night or in the evening. If you water in the morning most of it will evaporate and not benefit the plant at all. Most vegetables do most of their growing at night.
- Plant vegetables close together creates a canopy layer over the soil, which shades it and prevents evaporation.You may get smaller vegetables but there will be more to the square yard and great tasting.
- Choose crops that produce in abundance such as Tomatoes, Marrow, Peppers, and Aubergines that produce many meals worth of produce from the watering they do get.