The drought is over. On Friday, April 7 California Governor Jerry Brown officially declared the end to the most severe drought in our state’s history. So, what does this mean for our gardens?
Certainly, there will be further drought cycles and using water wisely in our gardens will be a permanent part of our gardening lifestyle.
With the drought over, here are my suggestions to our local gardeners.
Congratulate yourself, you made it, and so did your garden. I’ll bet most of your garden and plants are still there. You deserve a pat on the back for managing your garden so efficiently during the last five years of severe drought. Congratulations; you made the adjustments, saved a lot of water and saved your garden!
Plan for future drought cycles. The permanent “bones” of your garden should be able to endure another drought. Plan, even in wet years, for another drought. When planting trees and larger shrubs, it just makes sense that these are plants that are well adapted to periodic drought cycles. Smaller perennials and flowers are easy to switch out and are relatively inexpensive, but not the “bones.”
Adjust your Irrigation Controls. You probably pulled way back on your garden irrigations, complying with water restrictions. In Southern California at this time of year we are at the transition between the cool-wet season and the warm-dry season. Irrigation timers need to be adjusted now to compensate for these longer days and warmer temperatures.
Bring some color back into your garden. There is a good chance you sacrificed many annual and perennial flowers over the past couple of years. It’s OK to add some of these back to the garden now, so long as you accept that there will be more wet-dry cycles. We garden in a Mediterranean climate and droughts are inevitable. Colorful containers of flowers, blooming perennials and eye-pleasing baskets of color can give your garden a renewed sense of excitement. Colorful flowers are a celebration of rainfall. This is nature’s way to. It’s time to celebrate.
Plant Edibles. Drought or not, growing some of your own vegetables, herbs, fruits and berries is one of the best uses of our precious water. Every armful of tomatoes, peaches or grapes that you harvest from your garden means less water somewhere else, and less fossil fuels, harmful pesticides and energy consumption as well. Growing your own is good in so many ways.
Create Habitat. Birds, lizards, butterflies, pollinators, soil microbes and other creatures are part of a healthy garden, but have also been suffering through years of drought. The rain has helped them, but they need a gardeners help as well. Put out nesting boxes, food and water for wild birds; plant a few pollinator friendly flowers; hang a mason bee house; add some milkweed for the monarchs butterflies and make other adjustments to help our wildlife revive.
Feed the Soil. Plants are growing again, thanks in large part to a wet winter. Be sure they have enough nutrition. Feed the soil and the soil will feed the plants. Organic fertilizers and organic amendments are now the standard for most gardeners. Put away the Miracle Gro and chemicals and grow a healthy, organic and earth-friendly garden.
Have a great gardening year, you deserve it.