Survival Crops That Survive Drought and Heat
The summers in Central Texas can be punishing. On the day I shot the video below, we were in the middle of a hot streak where the temperature broke 100°F for more than 60 days in a row. So, obviously, we started talking a lot about heat-tolerant survival crops.
If you’re growing tender annuals during a hot streak like this, you might be out of luck.
I know this isn’t a concern for some of you up north. But if you’re gardening in a hot climate—and you’re planning for your garden to sustain you during an emergency—you’d better watch my video and learn about these great heat-tolerant survival crops.
Try Not to Depend on Your Summer Harvest
One of the best strategies for dealing with intense summer heat that could wipe out your garden plants is: don’t rely on your summer harvest!
Try to can lots of food in the fall and spring so that it won’t be so devastating if your summer garden doesn’t yield much.
I’ve talked to a lot of senior Texans about how they handle the summer heat. And the most common thing I hear is, “I don’t deal with the summer heat. I spend the summer afternoons indoors, and I start my garden again in the fall.”
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Choosing Heat-Tolerant Survival Crops
When it comes right down to it, these 3 plants are probably your best bets for growing a lot of calories without a lot of water during extreme heat: black-eyed peas, okra, and sweet potatoes.
Sweet potato plants do really well when they’re stressed, so they’re an awesome source of easy calories when times are tough in the garden.
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And if you ever find yourself in real trouble (as in, stores are closed and shelves are empty), there are 3 other plants that I grow just so that I’ll have them available if I ever need them:
- Lamb’s quarters are nutritious edible greens that don’t mind extreme heat and low water.
- Nutsedge, or nutgrass, is a very common weed around here. If you keep a lawn in Central Texas, you probably know it well. But did you know that it’s edible? I grow a variety that’s sold as feed for wild turkeys, and it’s delicious. Not to mention … it’s hard to kill!
- And finally, I keep some canna lilies nearby that double as ornamental plants when there’s more water available. It isn’t as beautiful during the dry summer heat, but the tubers are edible, and it’s a very reliable plant.
Thinking Outside the Box About Summer Gardening
When you hear people talk about summer vegetable gardens, you hear a lot of advice like “use more mulch” and “install drip irrigation.” Those standard techniques are fine, and they will probably get you plenty of vegetables. But if your whole strategy depends on loads of mulch and irrigation, you might end up in big trouble if the store ever closes or the local water utility shuts down.
What Do You Think?
If you have any other tips or suggestions for survival crops that tolerate extreme heat, please share them using the comments section below. I would love to hear what you are growing this summer!
Marjory Wildcraft is the founder of The Grow Network, which is a community of people focused on modern self-sufficient living. She has been featured by National Geographic as an expert in off-grid living, she hosted the Mother Earth News Online Homesteading Summit, and she is listed in Who’s Who in America for having inspired hundreds of thousands of backyard gardens. Marjory was the focus of an article that won Reuter’s Food Sustainability Media Award, and she recently authored The Grow System: The Essential Guide to Modern Self-Sufficient Living—From Growing Food to Making Medicine.