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Drought Tolerant Vegetables

Corn dry farmed1

Corn dry farmedIf you live where water is scarce, choose vegetables that do not demand a lot of water. Here are drought tolerant vegetable varieties that are very good performers. One note, even plants that do not require a lot of water, do require water to germinate and begin growing. Once these plants are well established, they will not need regular water.

Vegetable varieties for dry gardens:

Amaranth: green leaves used as vegetables; use thinnings raw in salad, steam like spinach.

Moth bean: nutty flavor, popular in India.

Garbanzo bean, also called chickpea: bean for making humus and use in salads.

Tepary bean: grows in desert and near desert conditions, a common bean.

Black-eyed pea, also called cowpeas: use bean to make vegetable soup.

Yard-long asparagus bean: long, thin, crunchy pod often used in Chinese cooking.

Snap beans and pole beans: require a short growing season and can draw on residual soil water.


Black Aztec corn: use black kernels for roasting.


Mustard greens: tangy, spicy salad green.

Purslane: use as a salad green.

New Zealand spinach: a warm weather spinach use just as cool-weather spinach.

Pearson tomato: old fashion flavor, used often for canning.

Early Girl tomato: medium size, tasty.

Super Roma tomato, Golden Nugget tomato.

Sugar Baby watermelon: sweet tasting ice box watermelon.

Planting. Set plants at least 1½ times or greater the spacing distance recommended on seed packets. When fewer plants are in the garden there will be more water to go around. For example, tomatoes that might normally be planted on 4 foot centers should be planted on 5 or 6 foot centers. (It is important to note that seeds must germinate under normal conditions; that is they must receive moisture to begin life and grow. Give seeds and seedlings all the water they need until they are established.)

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

How To Grow Tips

How To Grow Tomatoes

How To Grow Peppers

How To Grow Broccoli

How To Grow Carrots

How To Grow Beans

How To Grow Corn

How To Grow Peas

How To Grow Lettuce

How To Grow Cucumbers

How To Grow Zucchini and Summer Squash

How To Grow Onions

How To Grow Potatoes


How to Grow Lentils

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