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Is there any vegetables you grow without irrigation?

Posted by jcatblum 7 (My Page) on
Tue, Mar 6, 12 at 13:34

This year I am taking part in the Dept of Ag Plasticulture program. My irrigation & plastic mulch is going down tomorrow. However I have been thinking about items that are going to be hard to remove from the plastic mulch at the end of the season. Corn & okra are 2 that come to mind.

Is there anything that you have succesfully (in a year milder than last) without irrigating? Right now I am considering Okra with 12-18 inch spacing. Still unsure about the corn, since I bought some $$$$$ corn seed.

Just a note about my farm land. Last yr even with the extreme drought our hay pasture stayed green & was cut twice. Last month we hit water setting a fence post. We have some nice bottom land that even grew volunteer clemison sweets without me watering them. (I am sure if I would have tried to plant them the grasshoppers would have eaten them & the heat killed them).

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Is there any vegetables you grow without irrigation?

I very, very rarely irrigated when I lived & gardened in OK. I lived in the southeast corner of the state which is wetter than western OK but it still had droughts every summer for a few months. I watered only in the beginning to get seeds to germinate and, from then, they were on their own. We did use lots and lots of mulch (leaves, wood chips, cardboard, etc) most of the time. We grew all of the normal veggies. When it got really hot & dry for too long, things would shut down but they'd usually bounce back once rains & cooler weather came again.


RE: Is there any vegetables you grow without irrigation?

I think irrigation needs vary greatly across the State, and also are affected by the ground preparation and mulch you use, as well as the crops your are raising. I grew up in southern Oklahoma and many people had large watermelon patches with no irrigation capability.

I live in NE Oklahoma near Grove and some years I may not water more than a half dozen times, but last year was different. We never need to water trees but our water table is high enough that if I peck down the capped well in my neighbor's yard, I can see the water, so it is probably 10-12 feet down to the water surface.

RE: Is there any vegetables you grow without irrigation?

If I want to harvest any I water them. Some crops like asparagus and horseradish I usually only soak good 3-6 times a year depending on the year. But all of the main garden veggies will be watered at least once a week during the summer heat. Jay

RE: Is there any vegetables you grow without irrigation?

Sometimes. It just depends on the rainfall in any given year. In a year when we get 40 to 50 inches of rain, I rarely have to irrigate anything unless we go two or three weeks without rain in July or August. In a drier year when our rainfall might be between 19 and 25", I have to irrigate all of the garden. I have dense clay soil though, and even the improved areas dry out too quickly.

In an average year, when rainfall runs around 36" or so, I can grow okra, winter squash, summer squash, southern peas and melons without irrigation. The melons and winter squash have to be in the sandiest soil we have, which isn't terribly sandy but it is better than the clay. Some years I have grown sweet potatoes without irrigation, but not in drought years. Southern peas and okra get very little water from me in any year, wet or dry.

One year I grew "extra" tomato plants dryland style outside the fenced veggie garden and only watered them twice when they were small and just getting established. They stayed smaller than the irrigated plants in the veggie garden and produced less, but the flavor of the fruit was excellent. About midway through the summer, the deer found those plants and that was the end of that experiment.

Last year, I stopped watering in July. We'd had less than 12" of rainfall for the whole year, and it seemed pointless to keep pouring huge amounts of water on the garden when we were having highs over 105 almost every day. Surprisingly, some plants survived and kept producing, including jalapeno peppers, habanero peppers, several tomato varieties (Jaune Flammee', SunGold, Freckled Child, Matt's Wild Cherry), watermelons, muskmelons, southern peas, okra and a heat-tolerant broccoli called Piricicaba. That broccoli was planted in March and survived without irrigation from July onward and kept producing side shoots until it finally froze in either December 2011 or January 2012. None of those were grown true dryland style because they did have good rainfall in May and irrigation until July, (and rain returned in late August or early September) but I found it remarkable that they performed better on no water than the bermuda grass did with irrigation during the same time frame.

The people here in my county who raise melons on sandy soil mostly do so dryland style. Decades ago, melons were a major crop here and did very well in deep sand with a high water table and little to no irrigation. Now that land mostly supports hay pastures, horses and cows. My friend, Fred (who is 89 years young), grows incredibly huge and tasty melons on sandy soil near the banks of the Red River, but he has to fight the coyotes for each and every one of those melons.

RE: Is there any vegetables you grow without irrigation?

I will play around with what works this yr & what doesn't. The okra & bean seed is cheap enough that I will be out a little labor & a few dollars. I bought Sweetie 82 for corn seed & that would be a little more of a risk @ $16 a lb. I may try a few other things out that I have pleny of seed for-- Like the ounce of Charelston Gray seed I bought. But I won't plant any vining crops until my fescue goes dormant, or I would never find the plants in my super thick grass!

We do have nice sandy loam soil on most of our land. Melons are what most grow around me.

RE: Is there any vegetables you grow without irrigation?

I was always taught to grow watermelons on the fence blow ridges. May grow some along mine this summer. They don't take much water once their root system is established. But till it is they take water. I've had summers here where I only watered them 3-4 times max after the root system was established. The last 4 years I would have had to water them every week. As there is no subsoil moisture for them to tap into. Jay

RE: Is there any vegetables you grow without irrigation?

After the first summer we have never watered our asparagus bed and it is 25+ years old now. We have always tried to keep a good mulch on it. At first sawdust, then oak leaves and now woodchips. We also never water Jerusalem Artichokes. Don't water garlic and Egyptian onions either.
Some years we don't water potatoes.

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