Managing Drought

Boulder is arguably the center of the meteorological world…NOAA, NIST, NCAR and other great scientific centers that study and forecast weather are located here.  I went to a lecture this week with three lead scientists talking about water and drought conditions this year and into the future.  As you can guess…no one said firmly….”this is what next year will look like.”  At best the forecasts were…either it’s going to be an “OK” winter or it’s going to be dry.  No one was forecasting massive snows that would replenish our water tables and reservoirs. 

Two things made our life more difficult this year from a weather and garden perspective: early bloom times and high temperatures. We had both of these events this year combined with an epic drought across the country.  Even if we start getting more rain and snow, it will take several years for our trees and our soils to recover from this year’s drought.

What you can do in the Garden this Fall before Winter comes:

Make sure everything is well-watered going into winter.  Don’t just rely on snow to help the plants get through…the plants and trees have the best chance of survival if they are well watered before soil freezes.

After the soil freezes, put more compost or mulch on your garden.  Keep that soil good and frozen all winter and protected from desiccation of winter winds.  If you’re in an area where there’s still time to get fall cover crops in…get them in now. Last year’s dry hot February and March was tough on soil and plants.

Spend some time this winter thinking about water use in your yard and whether you might find areas you can make more xeric to help spare the water you do have for other thirstier areas.  Lots of us had sticker shock this year when the water bills came. We have some good mixes of drought-tolerant wildflowers that will let you have flowers and not have to pay high water bills.

And Pray for Rain.

Drought Monitor: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/

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