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Growing Drought Tolerant Vegetables


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June 4, 2009

Drought Tolerant VegetablesThere is a growing movement among gardeners to be more water wise about what they plant. Here are some common edibles considered drought tolerant, and some tips that will help you conserve water when the weather turns dry.

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How Much Water is Ideal?

Typically, edibles need somewhere in the range of 1-2 inches of water per week during the growing season, although this can vary according to their stage of growth. This amount of water is usually enough to soak the top 8-12 inches of soil.

What Defines a Drought Tolerant Plant?

Drought tolerant plants are not the same as drought resistant plants (true desert plants). Instead, they have been adapted (either through natural selection or engineered breeding) to survive for short periods of time with less water in arid climates. In most cases, the term drought tolerant applies to mature plants, not developing seedlings.

Crops and Seeds From Arid Regions

Like people, some fruits and vegetables are genetically designed to take the heat better than others. As a general rule, warm season crops (tomatoes, squash, melons) will usually fare better during a drought than cool season crops because they originate from parts of the world where periods of drought are part of the normal weather pattern. Many of these crops send their roots deep early, so by mid-summerís heat they are able to draw water from deeper in the soil.
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Heirloom varieties from warm, dry regions are also better adapted to drought conditions. If you live in a cooler climate and decide to grow them, make sure your can accommodate the length of their growing season. Many Southwestern seed companies offer special "drought-tolerant" collections of garden seeds that include beans, greens, tomatoes, melons, and even corn.A list of the edibles considered more drought-tolerant:

Vegetables

Fruits

Herbs

Water Requirements By Stage

Not every plant has the same needs at the same time. Most are tolerant to short periods of drought as long as they get water during crucial times. Instead of following a weekly watering schedule, focus on watering each plant according to its stage of development.
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Tips for Conserving Water

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