The best fruit and veg to grow in a drought
Aug 12, 2022
It’s official, much of the country is now in drought. Tom Hilton, gardening specialist at National Greenhouse shares his thoughts and expertise on the best fruit and vegetables to grow while still saving water.
Obviously, all plants need water. Not so obvious which can grow well when water is sparse. However, some plant can thrive in drier conditions.
GROW YOUR OWN FOOD WITH LITTLE WATER CONSUMPTION
Beans are the most well-known of these drought-resistant products. This includes favourites such as chickpeas and black–eyed peas, which are traditionally found in more arid environments.
Tomatoes are surprisingly hardy when it comes to a lack of water, being able to draw moisture from deeper soil when the surface layer becomes dry. Peppers, squash and aubergines are also all excellent candidates for low-water growing, especially if combined with a rain-water collection barrel to keep the soil nutrient rich, and watered only when needed.
However, it’s important to remember that careful planning and the right soil composition is still needed despite a plant’s hardiness, and veg such as the tomato still need a healthy amount of water in their infancy.
When it comes to sparingly watering these plants, drip irrigation is very effective, especially when the weather is hotter. Other methods can result in excess water on the leaves simply evaporating, meaning the plants are out of water and you’re out of pocket.
Watering around dusk or dawn is most effective as it allows the water to be absorbed before the heat sets in and, as the plant matures, slowly reduce your watering.
It is important to properly lay out your plants, doing away with the traditional row system and instead clustering plants together. This means that the water you do provide is shared between the plants, and allows leaves of larger plants to provide shade for smaller ones.
This is known as companion planting - allowing the plants to work together and give you the best harvest possible.