Growing Vegetables in a Drought


Vegetable plants generally require evenly moist soil at all times in order to thrive. This is rarely a concern until summer temperatures begin to soar and there are no rain clouds in sight. During a drought such as this, there may also be water restrictions put in place that limit your watering to specific times. Maintaining moisture for vegetables is vital if they are to survive this dry period and continue producing for the remainder of the season.

Step 1

Lay a 3- to 4-inch layer of mulch over the garden bed and between the plants. Use an organic mulch such as bark chips or straw. Mulch preserves soil moisture and helps prevent evaporation.

Step 2

Water vegetable plants in the morning so that the water has time to be absorbed by the soil instead of evaporating as it does in the heat of the day. Water at the base of the plants so that the water is immediately absorbed into the soil.

Step 3

Check soil moisture prior to watering. Stick a trowel into the soil and only water when the top 6 inches are beginning to dry. Water just enough to moisten the soil to this same depth.

Step 4

Water vegetables with gray water, or whatever water is left over after other uses. Place a bucket under faucets when waiting for kitchen or bath water to heat up and use this water in the garden. Use the waste water from air conditioners and dehumidifiers in the same manner.

Step 5

Avoid fertilizing and limit the use of pesticides during drought periods. Vegetables suffering from drought are more likely to be damaged by chemical treatments at this time.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid overwatering in spring. Overwatered vegetables only have a shallow root system and are not able to dig deep in the soil for moisture during a drought.

Things You'll Need

  • Mulch
  • Trowel
  • Bucket


  • University of Vermont Extension: Drought Gardening
Keywords: drought vegetable care, garden water saving, drought in gardens

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including the "Dollar Stretcher." Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.