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Planting a survival garden requires you to foresee and prepare for a number of possible scenarios that could kill your plants and leave you without a source of food. One of the most dreaded of these scenarios is an extended drought. Many plants are unable to survive more than a few days without water.
In a survival scenario where no rain is falling, providing water to them can be a real struggle. While it’s important to devise a plan for watering your plants during a drought, it’s also beneficial to have plants that you can rely on to survive drought when the weather turns hot and water is scarce.
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The plants listed below are all able to survive without water longer than the average plant and can handle the heat quite well. If you live in a part of the country where drought is a possibility (which is most of the country), consider including these plants in your survival garden.
Once the plant has been established, eggplants are able to survive droughts better than most vegetables. Eggplants are a heat-loving plant and won’t begin to wilt until daytime temperatures exceed 95 degrees for an extended period of time. Eggplants will also still set fruit in temperatures exceeding 100 degrees so long as they have some moisture and nutrients.
Fig trees need ample sun in order to thrive, but they aren’t particularly picky about the soil they grow in or the high temperatures they’re exposed to. Come time to harvest, fig trees will yield a bounty of sweet, sticky fruit.
It’s recommended that you water figs every five days during the summer months in order to yield the biggest fruit, which isn’t a lot, especially considering that figs are able to survive and yield fruit with even less water.
Add to that the fact that fig trees love the heat and are easy to care for, and you’ve got a plant that is well worth considering as part of your drought-preparedness strategy.
In addition to having some heat of their own, peppers handle heat and droughts quite well. It doesn’t particularly matter what variety of pepper that you plant, as most all peppers are fairly drought-resistant.
Larger peppers such as bell peppers will naturally provide more sustenance, but there’s certainly nothing wrong with mixing up your pepper plants for more variety – provided, of course, that you can handle the heat yourself!
4. Oriental Persimmons
If you’ve ever had the misfortune of tasting a wild persimmon that isn’t quite ripe, just the name persimmon alone might put a bitter taste in your mouth. However, the flavorful oriental persimmons have little in common with their wild-growing namesake.
Oriental persimmon trees produce tomato-sized fruit that is fairly firm and sweet. What makes oriental persimmon trees drought-resistant is the nature of the tree’s root system. Most fruit trees have roots that are shallow and branch out.
Oriental persimmon trees, however, have a tap root that goes deep into the ground, allowing the tree to collect water even when all the water near the surface of the soil has dried up and other trees are struggling.
5. Sweet Potatoes
Most varieties of potatoes don’t do well in hot climates and instead prefer cooler soil. This is not the case with sweet potatoes, however, as they do quite well when the weather turns hot. Like any other variety of potato, sweet potatoes are full of carbs that will keep you full and energized in a survival situation, and they have a high yield relative to the amount of area they take up.
A southern classic, okra is considerably more drought-resistant than most vegetables and does well in hot, summer weather.
Okra pods can be added to soups and stews, grilled, or battered and fried. The last method is the most popular way to cook okra, as any other method leaves okra quite slimy – an off-putting texture for many.
Prepared correctly, though, okra makes for a delicious dish that you will be able to enjoy when there’s not enough rain to keep other plants in your garden alive.
Pomegranates have gained a lot of popularity recently among natural health enthusiasts thanks to the fruit’s powerful antioxidant properties. Hailing from the Middle East and the Mediterranean, pomegranate trees are used to the heat and are quite drought-resistant.
Getting the fruit out of a pomegranate’s fleshy outer shell requires a little bit of work. However, the sweet morsels inside are well worth the effort.
8. Natal Plums
Natal plum trees are among the heartiest of all fruit trees. Not only are the trees drought-resistant, they’re also able to grow in a wide range of soil conditions and climates.
With a wintertime harvest, natal plums won’t provide any food during the drought. However, they’ll be able to survive the drought and provide you with food in the winter that follows.
Simply looking at a carrot and understanding how the plant functions will let you know why carrots are more drought-resistant than most vegetables. The part of the carrot that you eat is the plant’s root, meaning that the carrot is able to extend deep down into the soil and collect water that other plants can’t.
10. Black Eyed Peas
Like most plants native to the Southwest, black-eyed peas are plenty capable of surviving a drought and hot weather. The peas themselves contain very little moisture, meaning that little water is required to produce them.
Combine this with a relatively deep root system and black-eyed peas are plenty capable of producing food when the weather turns hot and the rain stops falling.
Also known as a red date or Chinese date, jujube trees are a drought-resistant fruit tree native to the Chinese mainland. Originally, jujube fruits were quite sour. Over the past few thousand years, though, growers have tweaked the species to produce a fruit that is much sweeter and more enjoyable.
Jujube trees may not be the most well-known fruit tree. However, their resistance to drought and ability to produce fruit in hot climates make them an option worth considering.
12. Horned Cucumber
As a general rule, most varieties of cucumber are fairly drought resistant, and the horned cucumber is even more drought resistant.
This unusual cucumber is quite different from the cucumbers that most people are familiar with, as the fruit it produces is spiny, bright orange, has a jelly-like texture, and is said to taste like a cross between a lime, a cucumber, and a banana.
One of the main sources of sugar aside from sugarcane, beets handle the heat and drought quite well. The deep purple tubers grow and are harvested much like potatoes. If you don’t wish to make processed sugar, though, don’t worry; beets are quite tasty in salads, pickled, or mixed into other dishes.
Given the amount of water in a watermelon, it may come as a surprise that this fruit grows best in long, hot summers and well-drained soil. While watermelon will naturally need some water to produce fruit, you won’t have to worry about the high heat wilting the plant and killing off its fruit.
15. Malabar Spinach
Ordinary spinach plants don’t do particularly well in a drought. Malabar spinach, however, which grows on a vine and tastes similar to the spinach you’re used to, loves the heat and can survive a drought quite well.
Since you’ll have a hard time getting most leafy greens to produce in a drought, Malabar spinach is definitely a green you should consider planting in order to incorporate leafy greens into your diet during a drought.
Most every variety of beans, from bush beans to pole beans and beyond, are able to handle the heat and drought incredibly well. The best part is that you’ve got a lot of options considering all the different varieties of beans that are available, meaning that planting several different types of beans in your garden will add plenty of variety to your drought-time cuisine.
17. Kei Apples
Kei apple trees originate from southwest Africa, which is enough alone to tell you that this fruit tree is able to handle the heat and drought. The Kei apple tree grows up to thirty feet tall and produces smallish, bright yellow apples.
Kei apple trees are also able to grow in high salinity soil. However, they do prefer the dry air of higher climates, meaning that growing them in a humid climate may prove difficult.
Squash is one of the few vegetables where the hotter the temperature is, the bigger the fruit they produce. This goes for all varieties of squash, both summer squash and winter squash alike.
This fact enables you to plant vegetables with both a summertime and a winter harvest and ensure that they will be able to survive any dry, hot weather that comes along.
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Thank You for the article, but most of these plants won’t grow in Central Illinois (Zone 5). Do you have any that would work well in Zone 5?
D. Ann says
Build a hoop house, even a small one. Johnnies seeds has detailed info from Eliot Coleman & pipe venders that can help. I grew fantastic watermelons (choose an early variety), Lima beans & sweet potatoes (started on the late side) here in zone 6. You can cover plants in a hoop house with low hoops & “Remay” to move your zone an additional step south. Choose the earliest varieties you can find. (For instance, there are tomatoes that start bearing 55 days after transplant.) Get a grow light and start your own transplants to speed up growth even more.