by Avis Licht
In Northern California we’re experiencing a record breaking drought this winter. The rainy season isn’t over – yet, but there is no rain forecast for the rest of January, and reservoirs and streams are very low.
There are a few simple and easy steps you can take to prepare your garden for drought conditions. And you should start as soon as possible.
1. Cover your exposed soil with mulch or compost. By covering your soil, you allow rain, when and if it comes, to penetrate into the soil and not run off. There are many kinds of mulch for different conditions. Please read this post to find out more about which mulch is the right one for your garden.
Sheet mulching is an excellent method to turn water hungry lawn into efficient, beautiful and water conserving plantings. Please read my description of sheet mulching here.
2. Check your irrigation system for leaks. Every year your system needs to be checked. Digging in the beds, gophers, raccoons, plants, freezing weather: all can break or loosen your irrigation pipes and cause leaks. Those leaks can lose LOTS of water. Please read this great article by Robert Kourik – drip irrigation expert.
3. Container planting produces great crops with very little water. You might want to consider planting in pots and containers for certain crops. You can control water use easily and get your food and flowers easily. Read here for more about container planting.
4.Convert high water use plants to native plants. There are many beautiful native plants that can serve the same purpose as your water hungry plants. Winter is a good time to do that planting. Here are a few ideas for native plants in this post: California Native Plants