California has been in the throws of a major drought for over a year now, and both rainfall and surface flows from the mountains have been way below average for several years in a row. The map above from the USDA’s National Drought Mitigation Center, provides a pretty good picture. Other drought related information is provided in links at the bottom of this post.
This past winter, we only had two storms that I can recall. Governor Brown declared a state of emergency on January 17. And nary a drop of rain has hit the ground since February – until recently – TWO weekends in a row! A few weekends ago, the boys and I were so excited about the sound of thunder and feel of rain that we ran around and danced outside until soaked through. Evan made a mini-shelter of our patio furniture so he could stay out and watch the whole storm. And then the next weekend (on the day we had planned a pool party for Evan’s birthday), it rained steadily the entire day. It didn’t stop the boys from having fun at the pool! It was extremely unusual to have such a lengthy storm in the middle of summer in Southern California.
A unique microclimate exists where our little grove is located. While the surrounding areas get about 7 inches of average annual rainfall, the De Luz area usually gets twice that average. But last year, we got barely above 8 inches. But hopefully, the tide is turning. According to historical weather data, we are now 10 times the normal average for the season (which starts July 1). Of course, when the normal average for the summer is only 0.06, achieving ten times that amount is not inconceivable. We are all hoping, though, that this is a sign that we will have a wonderfully wet year. It will get all our baby trees off to a good start.
Luckily as part of our redevelopment, Gary fixed a lot of the erosion issues that were happening on the property. We have a graded pad at the top of the property which had several large gullies starting to form. It’s good to take the opportunity now to implement best practices and prepare for potential rains to come (as an environmental consultant, I have to plug this! 🙂 ). The whole pad was regraded and a riprap lining was installed in the biggest problem area using rocks found while digging holes for the baby trees. Check out the result.
Speaking of the baby trees, they are doing well. We recently visited and they looked perky after the rains. Gary just made a third application of fertilizers for the year. He also made a second application to all our stumped trees and did another round of phosphorus injections. (See previous posts for fertilizer types and amounts, if curious). This time of year, the weeds can get big, so his crew recently did a lot of weed whacking, hand-pulling, and applied some roundup in the grove.
Some drought information links:
This is for Sonoma County, which is more heavily regulated than Riverside, but there is some good information in here for BMPs: