Ask a Question forum: drought-resistant vegetable garden

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Name: George Wolfe
Sparks Nevada (Zone 7a)
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jorgewolfe
Mar 7, 2015 12:15 PM CST
I live in Northern Nevada - a difficult place to garden at the best of times - but we are beset with a serious drought this year and will certainly face increased water rationing. I would like to know what garden vegetables will thrive in these conditions given the short season and water issues.

George Wolfe - Sparks Nevada
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Mar 7, 2015 12:56 PM CST
Welcome! George. I wish I could help you but even though I live in NE Mississippi and get a good amount of rain during the spring/summer, I still irrigate my vegetables. Thus water is not an issue here. I am sure there are those ATP members who grow vegetables in arid conditions and they will be able to give you some guidance.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: George Wolfe
Sparks Nevada (Zone 7a)
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jorgewolfe
Mar 7, 2015 1:11 PM CST
Dr D. I think you may have gotten our snow - how are the MS drivers in those conditions ?
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Mar 7, 2015 1:24 PM CST
We have had hundreds of accidents from last week's and now this week's snow and ice, with three deaths. Our highway department has absolutely nothing to really combat snow and ice and can only warn everyone to stay inside. Most everything, and certainly all local services and schools, basically shut down, and we have now had 3-4 days of closures in the last 14 days.

I have lots of experience driving in the mountains (snow skiing over three decades) but know better to get out in icy conditions here. None of us have "snow" tires or chains.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: George Wolfe
Sparks Nevada (Zone 7a)
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jorgewolfe
Mar 7, 2015 1:58 PM CST
One good storm last week allowed me to go skiing Thursday - perfect conditions, no wind, full sun, fluffy snow - great stuff for a guy with 2 bad knees who had to quit a year ago! The drive up was dry as a bone though. I won't be buying a season pass any time soon but still love this area and need to adapt to the conditions.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Mar 7, 2015 2:15 PM CST
I quit snow skiing in 1990, after lower back surgery. The surgeon warned me that it would be in my best interest to find another "hobby", one not so dangerous. I took his advice. Whistling I miss it but still have a miserable excuse for a lumber spine. Now I grow tropical plants as my hobby! Thumbs up
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Dennis Chastain
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (Zone 7a)
dlchasta35
Mar 7, 2015 2:18 PM CST
You might look at hugelkulture. It looks like it would be a great moisture saver.
dlchasta35
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
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Weedwhacker
Mar 7, 2015 7:47 PM CST
Welcome to ATP, George!

I think that in terms of vegetable gardening there really aren't many things that are drought tolerant so your best course would be to use water-conserving practices. A heavy mulch can do wonders in helping to retain moisture in the ground, rain barrels to catch whatever rain you may have, maybe consider a drip irrigation system that would put water right at the base of the plants, where it is most needed. Control weeds so they aren't using the moisture that your garden plants need. Increase the amount of organic matter in your soil, which will help retain the moisture content. Use something like the "square foot gardening" system of planting so things are grouped more closely and you are watering less bare ground.

Your local extension service may have some good advice for vegetable gardening in that area, as well.

Smiling
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Name: Dirt
(Zone 5b)
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Photography Bee Lover Region: Utah Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dirtdorphins
Mar 7, 2015 8:19 PM CST
There are a fair number of herbs that can get by and even 'thrive' on little water, but unless you eat Opuntia salad, both Dennis and Sandy have good suggestions Thumbs up
hot peppers Smiling ...cantaloupe, cowpeas, amaranth, some beans, mustard greens, eggplant? Shrug! might be a little more 'drought tolerant' than some of the other water pigs.
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
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dyzzypyxxy
Mar 8, 2015 8:46 AM CST
Have you looked at the Earth Box system, George? [url=www.earthbox.com]www.earthbox.com[/url] I gave a couple to my kids in Salt Lake City, and they say that's the only way they'd ever be able to grow vegetables there. They're going to be very short of water this year, too.

I use them because our soil here is so dismal and infested with nematodes, but they are a very water-efficient way to grow vegetables in a small space. An Earth Box is a recycled plastic planter sort of like a big window box with a water reservoir in the bottom. I set mine up on cinder blocks so they can drain, and I now also have a big, metal rack to hold them up so I can get to them without bending over (another nice thing, for me).

Once you set it up, fill it and plant it with what you want, you put a fitted plastic cover over the soil so there's very little evaporation, and no water wasted unless you routinely overflow the reservoir. (I put a plant under the overflow, just for decoration and it 'tells' me if the box didn't get enough water). Best of all, no weeding! Once it's planted and covered, all you do is make sure it's getting enough water - I have mine fitted with a micro-sprinkler tube that's on a timer, but we don't have water shortages here, at least not lately.

In your hot, dry weather you might have to fill the reservoir more than once a day as your plants get big. But it's still absolutely the most water-efficient way I've ever grown anything. No spraying water up into the air and having half of it evaporate before it gets down to the ground, right?

Here's one of my boxes - the covers come with the kit, and you can reverse them from black to white (white keeps the soil cooler, but early in the season I sometimes use black).
Thumb of 2015-03-08/dyzzypyxxy/762a86

Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Birds Butterflies Dog Lover Cat Lover
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Weedwhacker
Mar 8, 2015 8:59 AM CST
Good tip about the Earth Boxes, Elaine -- I didn't realize they came with the covers, that's a great feature! I use self-watering flower boxes on the railing on the south side of our deck, where I was never able to grow much of anything before because the sun would be so brutal there in the mid summer; those flower boxes also work great for growing lettuce and other greens.
"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained."
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Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Mar 8, 2015 9:45 AM CST
Yeah, they really are amazingly water efficient. My daughter has one on her south-facing deck in Salt Lake City and grew tomatoes and cucumbers in it last summer. They had weeks of 100+ temperatures and humidity in the single digits.

I meant to add, George there really are no "drought tolerant" vegetables. As Ken says, vegetables need lots of water regularly in order to produce for you. If you let them dry out at all, they will either just stop producing, make dry woody produce, or bolt to seed. Prickly Pear cactus do bear nice fruit on a drought tolerant plant, though. Our neighbor in Salt Lake used to give jars of Prickly Pear jelly as a holiday gift.

Most of the Mediterranean herbs like sage, rosemary and lavender are fairly drought tolerant due to their heritage.

Did you listen to the latest podcast that Dave and Trish did? They make great points about growing a lot of veggies, with regard to which ones give you the best yield for the space you have. This also applies to the water you have - high yield in less space also equals high yield per gallon of water used.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: George Wolfe
Sparks Nevada (Zone 7a)
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jorgewolfe
Mar 8, 2015 9:50 AM CST
Wow! Great answers all! Dennis, I have looked at Hugelkulture on Pinterest - very interesting but it looks like a big job for this year anyway. Sandy, definitely good stuff on the soil preparation and weed control, I do have a rain barrel and may try to hook up another as well as a drip system this year as mine fell into disrepair. I never had an Opuntia salad but I do love eggplant Parmesan and hot peppers! Now Elaine, I will definitely look up those Earth Boxes and I also have a good deal of southern exposure where I have fried many a young plant! Thanks again all of you for taking the time to help me - wishing you all a bountiful harvest !
[Last edited by jorgewolfe - Mar 8, 2015 9:51 AM (+)]
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Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Birds Butterflies Dog Lover Cat Lover
Image
Weedwhacker
Mar 8, 2015 6:09 PM CST
George, if there's anything many of here like to do (other than gardening, that is), it's adding our 2 cents to the discussion! Rolling on the floor laughing

Hopefully some of the info will be helpful to you!
"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained."
- John Powell / Cubits.org - A Universe of Communities
/ Share your recipes: Favorite Recipes A-Z cubit
C/F temp conversion / NGA Member Map

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