Winter Watering in Times of Drought


(Our beautiful new Middletown Community Garden)

In Lake and Mendocino Counties we are blessed with a climate that allows winter gardening. Greens, onions, garlic, and root vegetables enjoy and even excel in cooler fall and winter weather here. While usually we enjoy a wet winter that allows us not to water our crops, this year we have so far seen very little rain but cold nights, an issue for drip irrigation users. Why? Drip irrigation, and the pipes that the water is delivered through, can get damaged and broken if there is water in pipes during freezing temperatures. For that reason The Gardens Project turns off the water during the winter, however in years like this one where there isn't much rain, how do you ensure your plants get adequate water?

1. Plant strategically
If the winter is predicted to be a dry one consider planting drought tolerant plants such as favas, onions, garlic or peas rather than water dependent greens.
2. Mulch! Mulch! Mulch!
Mulch will not only help to keep your plants warm in the winter but also help to keep the soil moist. The University of California recommends 3-4 inches of mulch to protect your plants and help retain moisture.
3. Give your plants a head start
Plant early so that your plants can establish a deep and resilient root system to ensure that they'll be able to draw on water that's deeper in the dirt, allowing for less frequent watering.
4. Use row cover or cold frames
Not only do they keep your plants from freezing they can also slow evaporation so that your plants remain watered for longer.

Read here for more ideas of how to deal with drought conditions and creative ideas for watering.

Let us know if you have any tips and tricks to help beat the drought, and as always happy gardening!

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