Xeriscaping is a method of landscaping or gardening that conserves water or that requires little watering beyond rainfall. It can involve planting species that are tolerant of drought conditions, or replacing features like water-guzzling lawns with plants that are low-maintenance and hardy. Although xeriscaping is popular in drought-prone areas where official water conservation measures are in place, it can be used anywhere and in any climate to reduce water waste. For gardeners who want to incorporate xeriscaping into their landscaping project and who want to grow more of the food they eat, here are four edible plants that don't need much water.
Chives are perennial herbs that thrive in full sun but can also do very well with just a little bit of sun every day. Chives can be harvested and eaten fresh as aromatic garnishes. Both the stems and flowers are edible, and they can be frozen or dried for later use. If you don't want to eat them, their thick, grass-like stems and purple blossoms make beautiful borders that will attract bees and butterflies.
2. Prickly Pear
Prickly pear is a cactus with round flat pads that are filled with a gelatinous fruit. The taste is similar to okra, but its slightly firmer consistency makes it suitable for sautéing, boiling or grilling. Prickly pear is also great in salads and is often used as an ingredient in homemade jelly. This plant loves sun and dry soil, so use rocks rather than mulch, which retains moisture, to combat weeds.
3. Golden Currant
Golden Currant is a shrub that also loves full or partial sun and dry, sandy soil. It produces tart, spicy berries that are used for jellies, spreads and juices. This shrub grows quickly and makes excellent hedges, windbreaks, and barriers. While it prefers fertile soil, it does best when the soil can dry out between waterings.
Amaranth is an ancient plant that produces edible seeds (grain) and greens. The greens are often used in salads or steamed while the seeds are dried and boiled or ground into flour. Amaranth produces long, red blooms and makes an excellent border or background plant. It only requires occasional watering and with a little organic fertilizer or compost, it can grow several feet tall.
Xeriscaping to conserve water doesn't mean you can't grow a food garden. Not only are these four plants edible, but they can thrive in low-water conditions. If you want to grow more of your own food but live in a drought-prone area, talk to your landscaper (such as one from Bourget Bros Building Materials) about xeriscaping and the best edible plants for your soil and growing conditions.