Grow Drought-Busting Veggies in Your Own Backyard!

This summer, growing your own garden-fresh greens and mouthwatering tomatoes may be more important than ever. The months-long drought in California has led to skyrocketing prices at the grocery store—and there’s no sign of relief in sight. So get outside and get growin’!

Most vegetables need at least an inch of water a week in order to thrive. So keep these H2O-saving, thirst-quenching pointers in mind as you serve up your plants’ drinks:

Use a soaker hose. It’s the best way to deliver water all the way down to your plants’ roots.

Keep your soil well stocked with organic matter. This increases the soil’s ability to hold water and encourages large, healthy root systems—a plant’s top defense against drought.

Mulch heavily. You’ll conserve water, keep down weeds, and discourage pests all at the same time.

Plant drought-tolerant varieties. Garden centers and catalogs offer more and more every year. In particular, many heirloom vegetables tend to need much less water than modern hybrids do.

Don’t overdo it. Too much water will cause more damage than too little. It will drown your plants’ roots and wash away essential nutrients.

If water is in short supply where you live, remember my Grandma Putt’s rule of thumb: The more parts of a plant you eat, the more water-thrifty it is. Beets, onions, turnips, lettuce, and other greens top the list because the whole plant is edible. Corn ranks at the very bottom because a single cornstalk will use 54 gallons of water during the growing season to produce just one or two ears of corn.