Maintain a flourishing garden even during the hot months of summer and during a drought.

Are the weather and the want to conserve water preventing you from planting your wanted garden? The Lawhead Team would like to share some helpful tips to gardening even during a drought.

Soil it most important.  Well-amended soil is the foundation of a vegetable garden that will tolerate drought. Prepare your garden’s soil by adding lots of rich, organic compost that will help trap moisture and encourage deep root formation in plants.

All of this soil amending is for naught if you aren’t mulching to reduce evaporation and water runoff. A thick carpet of mulch will also keep down the weeds that compete with your vegetables for water and nutrients.

Be smart about how you layout your plants.  Plant your vegetable garden in block style layout rather than in rows to create microclimates, shade and reduce water evaporation.

Layout your vegetable garden so that plants with similar water requirements are grouped together. For example, cucumbers, zucchini, and squash all have similar water needs. Focus on vegetables that produce abundant crops like tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplants.

Edit the number of plants you grow to conserve water and space. One or two determinate tomato plants can serve your needs. Unless you can’t live without them, avoid growing space and water hogs like broccoli and cauliflower.

Three Sisters Garden.  Planting Techniques like the Three Sisters Garden is a companion planting method that the Native Americans have used for ages that you can employ in your own garden .

In the Three Sisters Garden mound, beans fix nitrogen into the soil, corn provides support for the beans to grow up, and the bristles on the squash stem protect the corn from the corn earworm while shading the soil all three plants grow in.

Educate yourself on when your plants need water.  If your vegetables are planted before the hot and dry days of summer arrive, they’ll have time to establish a root system that will allow them to survive the hotter days. Deep watering will train roots to grow deep into the ground. A drip irrigation system will deploy water where it is needed and potentially reduce your water consumption by as much as 50%. Soil amended as described above should be able to go between two and seven days between irrigation.

Knowing at what stage of development your vegetables will need water can also help you reduce the amount of water you use. Vining crops like cucumbers, assorted melons, summer and winter squash are frequently over-watered by gardeners.

They require less water than many other vegetables, and watering is only critical during flowering and fruiting. The same goes for eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes. In fact, this year has been great for tomato lovers because the heat and drought has lead to some of the most flavorful tomatoes in recent years.

What vegetables are right for drought tolerance?  Seek out plants and varieties that do well in hot and arid locations. Purchase seeds for agricultural crop varieties that are arid-land adapted.

Beans have the highest water requirement of all of the common garden vegetables. Cole crops and root crops need a consistently moist soil during their life span. But you can still grow your favorite vegetables even if they aren’t exactly adapted to growing in a dry garden .

gardenVarieties with short days to maturity are a viable option if you are conserving water in the garden . As are miniature varieties like the mini bell peppers and eggplants I grow because they need less water for fruit development than their larger counterparts.

This is by no means a complete list of vegetables and herbs that will tolerate drought, but the list can serve as a place to start.

1. Low prickly pear cactus-edible fruits and leaf pads of O. humifusa
2. Rhubarb-once mature is drought resistant.
3. Swiss Chard
4. ‘Hopi Pink’ corn
5. Asparagus-once established
6. Jerusalem artichoke
7. Legumes: Chickpea, Tepary beans, Moth bean, Cowpea, ‘Jackson Wonder’ lima bean.
8. Green Striped Cushaw squash
9. ‘Iroquois’ cantaloupe
10. Okra
11. Peppers
12. Armenian cucumber
13. Sage
14. Oregano
15. Thyme
16. Lavender
17. Amaranth-green leafed varieties
18. Rosemary
19. ‘Pineapple’ tomato
20. Chiltepines-wild chiles