Salads for Awkward Situations #1: Drought

Nasturtiums on my allotment last year

As the awaited hosepipe ban came into force for much of eastern and southern England yesterday, and with other parts of the country probably set to follow suit, I thought it'd be a good idea to look at which salad crops (both leaves and supplements) stand up to less watering.

The selection for your delectation (in no particular order) is:
  • Edible flowers such as nasturtiums, marigolds and violas - I've decided to keep my winter potted violas growing over the summer to see how they do, both drought and salad-wise. Nasturtiums are already a firm summer salad favourite with NAH and me :)
  • Beetroot - I grow 'Bull's blood' for its leaves and they're delicious
  • Spinach - I love these grown as baby leaves
  • Carrots - not forgetting their leaves are edible too!
  • Peas - pea shoots have become a firm favourite and I can vouch for their drought tolerant capabilities - I haven't been that good at watering my windowsill crops :o
  • Chard - I'm not so struck on this so far, so will be giving it a miss
  • Kale - one I'm going to try as it looks a good option for the winter
  • Don't forget Mediterranean herbs such as sage, oregano and marjoram - they'll add a flavoursome boost to salad dressings too
  • Add your choice of salad crop which you've found does well with little water - and tell me about it in the Comments below :)

So, even in the driest of gardens - whether you have a sandy soil or are in drought conditions - it's still possible to grow a good variety of salad items :)

If the dry weather continues, it's a good idea to pick salad leaves when young, as older leaves may be a bit tougher than usual. This will also encourage the plant to continue to produce leaves.

NB If you're in a hosepipe ban area, check your water authority's restrictions to see how it applies to you e.g. using a drip or trickle irrigation system is fine at the time of writing (except in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight) and anyone with severe mobility problems who's a blue badge holder may still be allowed to use a hosepipe.

The Horticultural Trades Association's website has links to all the water companies imposing hosepipe bans as well as one to the Environment Agency's website for the most up to date information. They're also providing advice for growers, retailers and landscapers, plus a downloadable poster aimed at ordinary people like me.

In later posts, I'll be looking at other awkward garden situations e.g. shade. I'll show you it's possible to grow salads for the 52 Week Salad Challenge irrespective of the type of garden you have, it's situation, or the weather :)


  1. Hi VP,

    I grew Golden Purslane for the first time last year. It's very succulent, so does well in drier conditions. It has a taste a bit like cucumber, and is very easy to grow. I think it is worthy of a place on your list.

  2. Here are 2 ways to grow using less water in this one post that I did a month or so ago! Its about "Hugelkulture, please have fun and check it out, many good ideas here!

  3. I stumbled upon your blog looking for other webcam sources in Chippenham. 3d Computers no longer has the webcam.
    I am an American webcam traveler. I really enjoy your blogs, especially about Chippenham. If I ever visit the UK, Wiltshire is my goal and especially Chippenham.

  4. I was just wondering what the history of drought was in the U.K. We have dry spells, but drought has, thankfully passed us by (but not other reas of the country, unfortunately).

  5. Sorry to hear about the drought and ban...we also are not getting enough water but in my sate there is rarely a ban...your suggestions are many of my favorites I am growing this year in the garden if the weather warms again...

  6. Many apologies for boring on about cos lettuce, again, but I found it was pretty drought tolerant (for lettuce).

  7. I like nasturtiums too, and as the tortoises do as well (!) they will be firm favourite in our house this summer.

  8. Tony - that's a new one for me - I must check it out :)

    Clint - what a coincidence I was reading about this on The Guardian's blog the day before! Cultivation methods and water saving tips are being more than well enough covered elsewhere, so I decided to focus on plant choice for our salads instead.

    Pat - welcome! They've just moved store, so that's probably why the webcam's no longer there. Thanks for letting me know - I'll ask them if it'll be coming back...

    petoskystone - 1976 was the drought which all others since are measured against. 1992 was pretty dry too if I remember correctly. So far, this one's shaping up to match 1976.

    Donna - bans are rare, so that's why you'll find plenty of Brit garden bloggers will be blogging about it

    Victoria - thanks for the reminder :)

    TBS - how come I haven't met your tortoises yet?!

  9. Hey I am growing those this year but that's not why I'm here. I like your site and I nominated it for the Sunshine Award. I think it's a fun award and I hope you find it interesting:

  10. If you like beet greens, but don't like chard, it might help to try a different kind of chard. These two plants are the same, only one has been breed for nice roots and the other for nice leaves.

    I don't know if they're available on this side of the Atlantic, but there are literally dozens of different kinds of chard. Lots of different colors, sizes, shapes and flavors.

    If you're ever interested in trying some different chard, I might be able to send some seeds sometime. The seeds I have now are very old and probably not worth sending.

  11. This is a happy Easter comment.

    I didn't know one could eat carrot leaves. The idea makes me feel unaccountably nervous.

    Unfortunately, I'm not a salady person except for tomatoes and they, of course, aren't exactly drought resistant! I think I could sit in a greenhouse all summer, eating tomatoes and smelling their leaves.

    Not the idea, is it? Never mind. Can dream.

    Hope you are having a very happy Easter.


  12. Miss Lady Bug - welcome! Thanks, I'll come over later and have a look :)

    Patrick - I think my problem with chard is that it grows almost too well for me, so the plants romp away and I get behind with picking the leaves. I like it as baby leaves in salad, but not when they get much larger. I'll certainly be trying it again sometime, so your offer is seed is very kind :)

    Lucy - lovely to see you and thanks for your good wishes for Easter :) I hope you had a good Easter too!


Your essential reads

Salad Days: Mastering Lettuce

Merry Christmas!

Garden Bloggers' Blooms Day: 'Just Add Cream'

Happy Easter!

Jack Go To Bed At Noon

Wildflower Wednesday: There's an orchid in my lawn!

Please read if you follow this blog by email

Happy New Year!

Chelsea Fringe 2014: Shows of Hands - Episode I