51118thumbFor those who do not remember ancient history, this wet stuff that fell from the sky recently is known as “rain”. It used to be more common, particularly through winter. It has an unfortunate way of getting everything exposed to it quite wet. It makes soil muddy. Yet, rain has many attributes. It is composed of water, so provides much of what irrigation systems have provided for so long in the absence of rain.

Most of us have already been using less water around the garden than in the past. Some plants have suffered, and a some may have died. Surviving lawns are probably not as green as we would like them to be. Just when we think that the garden can not get by with any less, the weather takes over. Even sporadic rain mixed in with mostly sunny weather provides significant moisture.

Not only is more moisture falling from the sky, but the plants and lawns that want it become less demanding through autumn and winter. Evergreen foliage loses less moisture to evapotranspiration (evaporation from foliar surfaces) because it is exposed to less sunlight during shorter days, and because the air is cooler and more humid. Deciduous plants drop their leaves, so do not lose moisture.

Even plants that are sheltered from rain by eaves will need less water because of the cool and humid weather, and shorter days. Some potted evergreen plants that are disproportionately large relative to their pots will likely want to be watered between the rain, only because their roots are so confined. Potted deciduous plants may need their soil moistened if the weather stays dry long enough for the soil to get dry.

Automated irrigation systems need to be adjusted for the changing weather. Some systems may need to be adjusted a few times. By the time the weather gets reliably rainy and cool later in winter, some irrigation systems can be temporarily disabled until the weather gets warmer and drier in spring. Not only does this conserve water; it also makes over-watering and soil saturation less likely.

23 thoughts on “When It Rains It Pours

      1. Finally, there is a chance of rain predicted for Wednesday. It is getting closer to a 100% chance! This is good. When it was only a 50% chance, I thought I would need to water half of the lawn.


    1. We are only expecting a 50% chance of rain next Wednesday and Thursday. (I suppose that means we should water only half of each lawn.) Rain is always so excellent when it is the first since last spring. It would have been more excellent before all the fires.

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    1. Our climate has been very stable. Those who insist that summers are warmer now than they were before have not been her long enough to know what the weather was like. People always complain about drought, which is likewise nothing new. There is no lack of water. There are just too many people living here now, and no one wants to conserve.

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      1. There was a big push on water conservation prior to the 2010 floods. Then the councils started encouraging us to use water again as their revenue was down. Then they countered that by putting the water rates up….

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      2. I have to disagree with you on that. The temperatures are warmer and I’ve been around almost half a century to know. Not only that, but looking at the data collected shows that we have been having warmer temperatures each year. We have been breaking records here in terms of number of 100+ temperature days in a row and number of 100+ temperature days total in each summer. Farmers are seeing their trees bloom way too early only to have the blossoms damaged by a sudden late frost or harsh storm. There is also a lack of water that has nothing to do with the number of people. Rainfall has changed both in terms of when it falls as well as how much. The timing of rain in California is critical because we have built all our water storage facilities around having a good snow pack in the Sierras, but if there is no snow because it rains when it’s warmer, that spells water availability problems. Drought is not unusual in California, but the severity of the droughts we are experiencing are new. These are the facts. You are right about the conservation problem. The biggest offenders though are big businesses. I don’t think it is in our best interest to allow a large bottled water distributor to be sucking out our aquifer, or oil companies to shoot precious water into gas wells during fracking and then contaminate the surrounding aquifer with waste water. Being here in the Valley we are inundated with the fact that things have changed, and not for the better.

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  1. Oh, goodness, I wish we could share. We started with rain last night, had snow all morning, which changed to rain in the afternoon and it’s still raining. We’ve had about 60 inches of rain this year. Supposed to clear out tomorrow, but…

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  2. We here in south-western Ontario see greatly different climates year over year. Summer of 2017 for instance was cool and wet and things (vegetables in our case) grew poorly but we were saved with high temperatures from late August right through September. Summer before that was very dry until the fall and this year we were except for a brief few weeks in June/July nicely warm and often very hot with plenty of frequent rains. Our first snowfall of the fall is happening as I write (at about half past nine on November 15), about an inch on the ground since about 2 this afternoon. Until now it has been quite rainy here.

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    1. The relative stability of the climate and weather here is part of the allure of California. We may have more climates (as in different climate zones) than we know what to do with, but the weather within those zones is pretty reliable; I mean, within reason. We certainly have drought years, and rainy years, but it is not like in other regions.


    1. So . . . . you live with winters there, but not summers here? hmmmm.
      Those of us who grew up with these climates do not know any differently. We get more out of our water, and manage to grow what we want to in our home gardens, even if the surroundings are chaparral.

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