• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Drought tolerant vegetables

 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 8966
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
129
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Only three perennial vegetables are listed at perennialvegetables.org for hot arid conditions:

"Atriplex halimus saltbush

Cnidoscolus spp. bull nettles

Opuntia spp. spineless nopale cactus"

A small handful more are listed for frost-free hot arid locales:

"Cnidoscolus chayamansa ‘Stingless’ chaya (as dieback perennial)

Dolichos lablab hyacinth bean

Manihot esculenta cassava

Moringa oleifera moringa (as a dieback perennial)

Moringa stenopetala moringa (as a dieback perennial)

Phaseolus lunatus Lima bean

Tegragonia tegragonioides New Zealand spinach"

So, not a whole lot of perennial vegetables one can grow in a hot arid locale without irrigation, apparently.    What about annual vegetables for arid conditions?  Are there any of those?  Remember, no irrigation allowed! 



 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
what comes up in your area after a good rain?  Do you get a burst of growth from both annuals and perennial plants?  Fast growing annuals can take advantage of temporary moisture.

I would suggest trying to mimick desert condition water-harvesting earthworks (microcatchments, waffle-grids, etc...) and stick with SW native beans, corn, squash and peppers for vegetables.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 8966
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
129
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ok thanks, those require irrigation. 



 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
if planted during a dry season, probably so.  planting after a good rain, probably not.  if the earthworks are set up properly.  lots of examples of these being grown in the methods I mentioned above.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 8966
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
129
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ok thanks.  We just had the last good rain in about a year, guess I better plant me some corn and squash. 

Kidding about planting the corn and squash, but serious about not having a good rain in a year (or more).

My topic question is a serious question.  Maybe there is no answer to it. 

 
                              
Posts: 71
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Ludi, what are you meaning by no irrigation? Do you mean no watering of any kind at all? No grey water even?
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
88
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I keep imagining your climate as being similar to parts of the Middle East. Figs and dates?
I see what you mean about perennial veggies. Maybe your environment's just too much for them
What about rampant self-seeders like salad mallow aka mulaheyah? Massively popular in Jordan, so we're talking hot and dry...
 
John Polk
master steward
Pie
Posts: 8010
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
268
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
While it is not a veggie, how about the SW native Goji Berry (Lycium exsertum)?

It is native to the Mexican/Arizona deserts.

Available here (last item on page):

http://jlhudsonseeds.net/SeedlistLO-LZ.htm

 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 8966
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
129
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks for these suggestions.  I grew Egyptian Spinach (with irrigation) and it seemed to do well though we didn't like to eat it (seemed to have a slimey texture).  I might grow it for the chickens  I'm looking into drought tolerant fruits like Wolfberry (Lycium) and figs to replace my orchard which died.

By no irrigation I mean no watering at all except possibly when getting the seeds started or plants established.  Paul W sez permaculture shouldn't need irrigation, so, I'm trying to find out if that is possible.  Edible plants which can tolerate dry conditions don't seem to be well known.  In the US Southwest, the native farming peoples either used irrigation or planted with the predictable monsoon rains.  We don't get the monsoons in this part of Texas and to my knowledge there were no native farmers in my region.  They might have known it wasn't appropriate to farm or garden here.  One solution  I'm going to try is to plant native edible prairie plants.  I was just curious if folks knew of drought-tolerant domestic vegetables it might be worth trying.    I'm still going to have my little irrigated kitchen garden, but I'm hoping to be able to grow more things that won't require watering, or at least not as much.

I sure hope the climate doesn't get a dry as the Middle East, though this year it was.  And some reports I've read predict this drought could last a decade or become the permanent condition.  It's a frightening prospect.  Many trees are dying.   
 
                              
Posts: 71
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
"Paul W sez permaculture shouldn't need irrigation", yes but one has to replace it with other techniques that hold water in the land. I'm not clear what you are doing in that regard or if you are meaning plants that will survive in your area in general

The driest part of NZ gets around 300mm/12" of rain per year (hot summers, cold winters). I see things like thrown apple and pear trees growing wild there. Also, by the river there are many more plants including wild asparagus and blackberry (closer to the water table). So 'it depends...'
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 8966
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
129
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Apples and pears died with about 8" of rainfall.  We haven't made it to 12" yet this year.    Hot temperatures here are 95 - 100F during the summer.   

I had to irrigate my "hugel pit" (buried wood)  garden during the summer, though not as much.

Yes, more things grow by the river here, too.  My place is about 1/2 mile from the river, too far away to get much benefit.

This is a thread about vegetables.     It's ok if there aren't many drought tolerant vegetables.  I just thought folks would know of some and thanks to those who have made suggestions.



 
Benjamin Burchall
Posts: 182
Location: Long Beach, CA
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Artichoke
anasazi beans
Cow peas
Iceplant
Prickly Pear Cactus

These come to mind immediately. I imagine you'll need to provide some shade and increase the water storage capacity of your soil if you want any large success.
 
                                                  
Posts: 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Just as a side note New Zealand spinach produces a massive amount of greens, it is a sprawling, self seeding ground cover that came from coastal, sandy soils. This plant can provide all of your green needs if you can't grow anything else
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 8966
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
129
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks for those suggestions.

 
Eric Toensmeier
Author
Posts: 145
56
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi, I've recently posted some more resources for arid cold-tolerant perennial veggies and other crops. Check out the Useful Plant Profiles page at www.perennialsolutions.org and click on Colorado Plant Palette. The High Altitude Species includes many species for dry high altitude tropics.

For hot tropics I'd add many species from Lost Crops of Africa Volume II (linked lower in that same page): moringa, baobab, marama, locust bean. Also mesquite of course though its not really a a vegetable.

I also have a nice one on edible cacti of Mesoamerica (in Spanish) under Recursos en Espanol.

Eric Toensmeier
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 8966
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
129
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thank you, Eric. 

 
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame
Posts: 488
Location: Foothills north of L.A., zone 9ish mediterranean
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here in SoCal foothills, there is a variety of wild mustard that grows well on bare hillsides during the winter.  It isn't a perennial, but reseeds itself like a weed.

We eat the leaves (steamed with shoyu or mixed with pasta) and flowering heads that taste like a spicy version of broccoli. 

We get light freezes up here @ 900ft.  Temps get over 100 degrees, in fact it was close to that yesterday.  Rainfall is about 19inch/500mm per year.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 8966
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
129
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I remember that mustard.    I think it is just regular old mustard, a naturalized plant.  The great thing about CA is the predictable rainy season.  We don't seem to have as predictable rains here, at least not recently.

Good news is some things I though had died were only dormant - passionvine Passiflora incarnata(medicinal) and asparagus! 

I'm feeling more encouraged.  Pebble mentioned techniques that hold water in the land, and I think that's definitely key.  So far buried wood beds ("hugel pits" seem to be working well.  I don't know if I can put them in all the areas I want to grow things, though, so I think other areas will need to get the basin or waffle bed treatment.  My main concern with basins is water-logging when we get floods, which seems to be the state other than drought which we experience.  It's never "just right" or "normal" anymore. 
 
Terri Matthews
Posts: 468
Location: Eastern Kansas
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Native Americans grew a variety of corn in the desert that was more drought tolerant. They planted it deeper than you can plant other types of corn and, as the surface water dried up the roots would follow the water down.

Alas, I do not remember the tribe or the variety of corn: I just remember seeing a small field of it on TV.

On the good side they did not water it: on the down side it wasn't sweet corn.
 
Hugh Hawk
Posts: 225
Location: Adelaide, South Australia (Mediterranean climate)
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Leeks are pretty good in terms of water.  I don't give mine any supplemental water usually.

NZ spinach will probably do well but it is quite mucilaginous, like the ceylon spinach you already tried.  My chickens eat a little of it but they mostly like it because it attracts snails, which go in too when I rip off stems to throw in.

Re flooding, Brad Lancaster talks a bit about this in his books.  He reckons that appropriate plantings will avert flooding by improving the soil and creating macropores (from dead roots, earthworm tunnels etc.) which make the soil drain.  One of his examples if I remember correctly was a basin that initially took 2 days to drain, only taking 2 hours after a year or two of being planted.

Since all vegetables contain a good proportion of water, it's never going to be possible to grow most of them in extreme drought unless water retention improvements are made.  Remember that if you have a lot of space, earthworks can be used to double or triple your effective rainfall in one spot by directing water from one area to another.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 8966
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
129
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I grew O'odham 60-day corn without irrigation, not in a drought year.  It grew only 3 feet tall but each plant had one or two ears of corn.

I've never been successful getting NZ spinach to grow here, but I'll keep trying. 

 
Morgan Morrigan
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
check out seedsearch seed bank

http://www.nativeseeds.org/

would also try adding biochar (activaqted charcoal) to soil as moisture bank.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 8966
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
129
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks.  I have grown many kinds of seed from Native Seeds. 

I have decided biochar is too difficult for me to make, so I'm using buried wood instead.
 
John Polk
master steward
Pie
Posts: 8010
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
268
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
To anybody considering using bio-char (especially in an arid region), I strongly recommend soaking it in water (or better yet, compost tea) until it will absorb no more.  If you do not do this, it will act like a sponge, and wick away all of the moisture in your soil, leaving a soil that is inhospitable to worms and soil microbes...dead soil.
 
Hugh Hawk
Posts: 225
Location: Adelaide, South Australia (Mediterranean climate)
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I read of someone who soaked his biochar in a 'pissoir' (exactly what it sounds like).
 
                              
Posts: 12
Location: Eastern Texas - zone 8a
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
As Terri said, I recently read that the corn the Indians grew was a type that had developed deep roots ( up to 12 feet in depth) with a low profile so the wind wouldn't blow it down or cause more unnecessary evaporation.  It didn't produce ears of corn as we know it today, but rather a few ears with few kernels.

We normally have more rainfall than you but this year has been severely lacking with many trees dying also.  The optimistic side is the dead wood will be fodder for more hugel beds.

Most of the onions, garlics will do with minimal or no moisture.  Both will be perennial in this zone.  In particular, I find the multiplier onions are a perennial that is very drought tolerant. 

Portulaca or purslane would be another green that is drought tolerant (not necessarily perennial) but reseeds freely. 

For herbs (I know this was a request for vegetables) but rosemary is totally drought tolerant in this zone.
 
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame
Posts: 488
Location: Foothills north of L.A., zone 9ish mediterranean
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have a few kernels of anasazi blue corn lying around that I will be growing for seed this spring.  Hopefully by next fall I'll have lots of seed to share.  Comes from the hopi mesa, where they dry farm, so it should be pretty drought tolerant.

 
Morgan Morrigan
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
those black soils down in the Amazon were biochar with humanure. Still the richest soils in the world. There is a Yahoo group with some info and lots of arguments too. think is under bio-char, then ACS (activated charcoal soil?)

this one has some action too
http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/compost-toilet/

 
John Polk
master steward
Pie
Posts: 8010
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
268
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It appears that those black soils were not intentional.  The pits were dug in the village.  They served multiple functions:  Village cook stove, ward off the wildlife, latrine, and landfill...they are often filled with the shards of broken pottery and other village trash.

A waste product of village life, that in retrospect proves to be smarter than our modern society's way of dealing with waste.  Of course, we produce many times their waste with our modern lifestyles.  If they had existed in that era, those pits would also contain Commodore 64s and cell phones.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 8966
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
129
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've become convinced the key is buried wood pits or similar ways to store moisture in the soil.  I wish I had the energy to produce biochar, but I need to be realistic about my abilities, as a not very robust woman approaching 50.  Digging holes and burying wood is about the most I can manage.    I plan to do as much of this as possible, as my kitchen garden where I have buried wood did quite well throughout our insane summer (100F for days or weeks and no rain).  Though I had to irrigate, the plants in the "hugel beds" actually grew and produced whereas the parts of the garden where I had only added organic material to the surface (sheet mulching) all died.  I'm totally sold on the hugelkulture idea and owe a huge debt of gratitude to Paul Wheaton for informing me about the practice. 
 
Jack Shawburn
Posts: 230
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ludi, Will Amaranth grow there?
We get 20" rain only during summer,
high altitude 4500ft daytime temps +32C/90F cool nights
every year I see Amaranth grow along the road sides.
They get some runoff but they always seem to do well
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 8966
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
129
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Amaranth grows here when it rains or with irrigation. There's a lot coming up since it rained a bit and temps are cooler.

 
Benjamin Burchall
Posts: 182
Location: Long Beach, CA
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hugh H. wrote:
NZ spinach will probably do well but it is quite mucilaginous,


I suspect you be calling another plant NZ spinach than the plant that commonly goes by that name. NZ spinach isn't mucilagious at all.
 
Terri Matthews
Posts: 468
Location: Eastern Kansas
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My husbands uncle had an interesting set up.

He had double sinks in him home, and he ran the plumbing from one sink through the wall of his home and into the flower garden. He had a lovely hedge of 4 o'clocks growing, and they hid the pipe that watered them.

If he was rinsing vegetables or whatever he used the left hand sink, and if he was washing dishes he did not, as he did not want soap in his flowers.

Ever since I saw that I wondered about doing that to water a fruit tree in an arid area.
 
Hugh Hawk
Posts: 225
Location: Adelaide, South Australia (Mediterranean climate)
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Benjamin I was referring to Tetragonia tetragonioides (syn. expansa).  Also known as warrigal greens.  I'd describe it as mucilaginous, the snails certainly like it...
 
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame
Posts: 488
Location: Foothills north of L.A., zone 9ish mediterranean
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
What about fennel? 
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 8966
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
129
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Fennel needs irrigation here, or rather, so far I have not been able to grow it without irrigation.

 
Cate Weaver
Posts: 15
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
cardoon, a relative of artichoke
 
Travis Philp
gardener
Posts: 965
Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Peas- I almost never water my peas and we sometimes go 2-3 weeks without rain. They don't tend to grow flowers/pods very well during droughts but you can still eat the new leaf/shoot growth. I mulch heavily with hay which may make the difference


These aren't annuals but...

swiss chard

parsnips and carrots if well established

rhubarb

jerusalem artichoke aka sunchoke

 
Hugh Hawk
Posts: 225
Location: Adelaide, South Australia (Mediterranean climate)
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Have you tried Orach, Ludi?
 
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic