Abundant Harvests - garden info,  water wisdom

What’s your get-ready-for-rain routine?

waterbarrelWe’re ever hopeful that we’ll get some rain.  Here in L.A., deep into this historic drought, that still remains a big hope!

But each time the weather forecasts call for precipitation, I run around doing my routine … garden tools away, close the sheds, buckets and wheelbarrows inverted.  Here are a few special ones …

Sow wildflower seed.  The drought has been tough on wildflowers.  They really sprout much better in real rain, moreso than with hose irrigation.  I generally cover the seed with something, so that birds don’t eat it and feral cats don’t dig in it:  inverted strawberry baskets, inverted nursery flats, chicken wire.

Open your composter.  My husband swears by it, that fresh rainfall really helps your compost.  When rain is forecast, he opens the lid of our city-subsidized plastic composting units.

Bring bird feeders inside.  I recently learned that moist rotting birdseed can harbor molds and bacteria that make our little feathered friends sick.

Prepare your soil.  If your garden is anything like mine, the soil particles are now hydrophobic — when you apply water, the water beads up and runs off rather than soaking in. Mix in lots of compost (homemade or store-bought bagged stuff) to serve as a sponge and soak up water.  Instead of flat soil surfaces in my beds, I now ruffle up the soil surface with a hand tool to make lumpy pockets.  The resulting mini “water catchers” hold water in place until it can soak in (infiltrate).  I also form the soil into ridges around my planting area, to create sunken beds.

Check your rainwater harvesting.  Clean leaves out of the filter basket of your rain barrels.  Confirm that downspouts are directed into your barrels and haven’t been knocked aside.  If you are able to, climb up on your roof and clear debris out of your rain gutters.  Sweep any large piles of leaves off of your roof (compost bonanza!).  Check that the overflow path is clear.  Re-form berms and swales.