Ask a Question forum: Drought Mitigation

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Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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RoseBlush1
Dec 23, 2017 12:30 PM CST
Based upon some shallow research on my part and my own records, I think my part of California is going to have another drought year for the winter of 2017 -2018.

I don't have to worry about water restrictions, so that is not my issue.

I don't have a drip system and do all of my watering by doing deep watering using sprinklers for various beds and under the canopies of the many roses I grow..

Right now, night temps are at freezing or below, so if I start a watering program now, I would have to pull out hoses and put them away each night.

Day temps are running in the mid-40s to low 50s. Those highs are only valid for a couple of hours a day.

I don't have to worry about my soil freezing more than about half an inch, but if the plants get wet, they will freeze.

During the last drought, it was difficult to keep moisture in the root zone as my property is located on a watershed and any water I put on the surface was slurped down to deeper levels as they dried out.

Can anyone advise me as to what method would be the best drought mitigation method I can implement now ?
I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.
Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
Charter ATP Member Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Orchids Region: California Plant Identifier
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ctcarol
Dec 23, 2017 12:53 PM CST
Would it be possible to bury soaker hoses in the beds below the freeze zone? Or even heavy mulch over the soakers might work.
Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Ponds
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beckygardener
Dec 23, 2017 12:58 PM CST
Carol gave the same answer that I was going to give! Thumbs up
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Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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RoseBlush1
Dec 23, 2017 1:13 PM CST
Thank you ... I tip my hat to you.

That will work once night temps are above freezing, so I will use that method in parts of the garden later in the season until the middle of May. Normally, I don't even have to think of watering during that period either, so it is a useful idea.

It's just that right now, all hoses have to be fully drained and put away at night. Mulch alone will not be enough to keep water from freezing inside the soaker hoses and they are not effective if they are buried.

To give you an idea as to why I am looking at this now instead of waiting a few months ... last December we got 20" of rain. This year, we have had only 1" of rain in December.
I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
Dec 23, 2017 1:15 PM CST
How far below freezing does it get and how long does it stay there? I used to leave hoses out when I lived in CA Zone 8. The problem is that they freeze solid because they are full of water and don't thaw out quickly enough to be usable. Not only that but if you step on them while they are frozen, they break into lots of pieces. Smiling

Here in Reno, I am gardening in a pile of sand. I have been watching the ground moisture, hoping I don't have to drag hoses out and water. There is still some moisture in the root zone so no hose dragging yet. Have you dug down to see how deep the moisture is? Even though the surface looks dry, if there is any moisture in the root zone, your plants will be ok.

Getting your plants wet and letting them freeze solid is an old farmer's trick. Plants that are frozen retain more moisture. Cold dry air is very dehydrating.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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RoseBlush1
Dec 23, 2017 2:23 PM CST
Daisy ... your posts always have good information. Thank you ... I tip my hat to you.

There is plenty of moisture in my soil right now. I am planning ahead. I am not trying to solve an immediate problem.

I am gardening in rock. My house pad was cut out of slope which is part of a watershed for the Trinity River. Water moves quickly through the crevices of the rocks to the streams underground, which eventually flow to the river. If those crevices dry out, it moves more quickly and I have difficulty keeping moisture in the root zone during the hot temps during the growing season.

My working theory ... and I may be wrong ... is that if I start supplemental watering now, I may delay or change that dynamic for what I believe will be a drought year. I am not a scientist and would love some feedback as to whether or not I am headed in the right direction.

Getting your plants wet and letting them freeze solid is an old farmer's trick. Plants that are frozen retain more moisture. Cold dry air is very dehydrating.

Yes, it is a common practice for vintners to spray their crops before a hard frost to protect the fruit. However, from past experience, I know that freezing the canes of some woody plants causes more winter damage.
I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
Dec 23, 2017 2:55 PM CST
That's an interesting problem. I can see that it would be to your advantage to keep those crevices full of water. How are you able to judge when the crevices are drying out? Are there seeps you can watch?

I will bounce your problem off my daughters (a physical geologist and a geotechnical engineer) to see if they have any thoughts...
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Dec 23, 2017 5:41 PM CST
DD#1 (geologist) says:

"It would work IF you are sitting on a very tiny perched aquifer (isolated and sitting by itself and not connected to the bigger water aquifer) and you are using the city water supply. I would consider that highly unusual - most likely you are sitting on a fractured rock aquifer and are part of the bigger system. If you are using your own well water, you are just going in a circle - taking it out and putting it in, with evaporation in the middle. If you are using city water, its like trying to fill a lake with an eyedropper. I don't think you can add water fast enough to make a difference. You might slow down the drainage from your very own cracks but the system is just too large to have any long term effect.

If the crevices are already full, you can add more water and slow down the amount of time it will take for them to drain next summer but the cracks are not in themselves water storage, like buckets. You can't fill them and have the water stay. The only reason the cracks are full now is that the aquifer is high but they change from season to season and year to year."

(Daisy's back) So technically, you could slow down the draining of the cracks if you could add enough water. I'm not sure the draining of the cracks is what is causing the lack of moisture in your root zone, though. You might do better by figuring out ways to avoid surface evaporation, such as adding a lot of mulch. I added truck loads of mulch before I could grow anything in my pile of sand.

Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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RoseBlush1
Dec 23, 2017 7:23 PM CST
Thank you Daisy...

Your daughter's response just means I can't be more proactive than I have been ... Sighing!

I hope this drought is not as long as the last one. My trees have just gotten back to looking healthy again after two wet winters.

I don't have visible cracks. I just know they are there because of how the drainage works in the garden. It can rain hard for hours every day and there will be no puddles. I do use a lot of mulch ... Smiling

I learned a lot during the last drought and know I can get through another one without any plant losses. I was just trying to see if I missed something.

Thanks again.
I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.

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