It’s no secret that Central Texas is prone to drought, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a productive vegetable patch during tough times. With a little planning, ingenuity, and know-how, it’s perfectly possible to persevere through the scorching summer season.

“Drought is nothing new to our area, and changes in weather are nothing new to Texas,” said lifelong Texas gardener Martelle Luedecke. “All we have to do is make sure that we learn to adapt to our environment and take care of our plants. This is not our first rodeo, and it’s not the plants’ either.”

Luedecke shared some tips for battling the brutal drought conditions that are expected to continue into the summer of 2024.


Where, how, and when you plant your veggies are crucial to their survival in a drought, Luedecke said.

Burnet County happens to lie right on the divide of two distinct growing regions — Zone 2 in the west and Zone 3 in the east — which means the perfect day to plant can be hard to nail down. The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service has in-depth guides on when to plant different crops for the most successful harvests that take into account the area’s brutal summers and potential cold snaps. 

For example, plant:

  • watermelon from mid-March until June 1
  • chard through April
  • tomato starters between March 15 and April 10
  • potatoes between Feb. 15 and March 10
  • spinach from January to Feb. 1

Significant leeway makes these dates more like guidelines. If you plant too early, your starters could be hit with a freeze, and if you plant too late, your plants could be cooked in the summer and not produce at all.

Luedecke recommends finding a planting spot that gets adequate sunlight, maybe six hours’ worth, instead of all-day exposure to give the plants a fighting chance during extreme heat. The Highland Lakes had 51 consecutive days of over 100 degrees in 2023, which was enough to kill plants that normally thrive in full sun.

“I have herbs that survived the apocalypse but didn’t survive last summer,” Luedecke said.

When timing sun exposure, make sure you’re paying attention to the shade provided by fully leafed-out trees. If you pick a spot for sun exposure based on leafless limbs, available sunlight might drastically change once foliage bounces back in the spring.

Shelter from the wind is another consideration when choosing an ideal plot point. Anything that can reduce stress on the plants, like keeping them out of high winds, will give them a fighting chance against the drought.


According to Luedecke, starting with healthy soil can lead to healthier plants, making them more likely to survive tough times.

“The most important thing about gardening out here is not just that we have excruciatingly different weather turns, but that you can literally have a plot of land that is 10 (feet) by 10 (feet) and have eight different types of soils,” she said.

Learning the proper pH balance and nutrient requirements for the crops you’re working with can mean the difference between sickly and strong plants. For the best shot at survival, ensure the soil is well-suited to the plants and make any necessary changes using fertilizers or other additives.

Luedecke recommends using a soil testing kit and researching your veggies’ needs before putting anything in the ground.


The way you water a plant can have more of an impact on its health than how much you water it.

Roots are the root of the problem, Luedecke said.

“Shallow watering will lead to shallow roots,” she said. “If you do deep watering, the roots reach out further, which gives them stability and makes the plants resilient.”

By watering plants deeply and thoroughly throughout the spring, their roots will penetrate farther into the ground and spread out in all directions. If a plant isn’t watered enough, or the water is left to pool on the surface, the roots won’t grow out, making the plant more susceptible to heat.

Gardeners should follow water restrictions during times of drought, Luedecke said. She recommends using rain capture if possible to store water in the spring and cut back on public use in the summer.