Colusa County Master Gardeners don’t want to say the “D” word just yet, but the unusually warm winter could mean California is heading straight into a lingering drought.
The group, which turns University of California research into sound gardening advice, discussed the dry conditions on Friday, when they hosted their first demonstration at their new demonstration garden, located at the Colusa County Office of Education Village, in Williams.
While the rain this week provided some needed relief to parched foothills, the brief downpour is not enough to put a dent in the rainfall deficit. January and February tend to be the wettest months, with rainfall tapering in March and April, said Gerry Hernandez, master gardener coordinator with the University of California Cooperative Extension Service.
“This winter was a whole other thing,” Hernandez said.
Drip irrigation was the subject of Friday’s demonstration.
Hernandez and Master Gardeners John and Diane Vafis also touched on the need for controlling the amount of water in yards and gardens on the group’s monthly podcast, which can be found at radiocolusa.com
Hernandez advised both beginning and confident gardeners that drip irrigation should be installed now, as residents begin preparing their gardens for spring and summer plantings of vegetables and flowers. She also recommended drip lines to be connected to a timer, so that water can be used more efficiently.
“Spring watering is different from summer watering,” Hernandez said. “You add a little bit more water in the summer, dial it back in the fall, and most likely turn it off in the winter (in normal precipitation years).
About a dozen people attended the drip irrigation demonstration to see the equipment go in ahead of the group’s planned planting of tomatoes.
“We are only going to have the tomato planting at the end of the month, but we have more work to do before we get to that point,” Hernandez said. “But we will plant multiple varieties of tomatoes so people can see the kinds of tomatoes that grow locally.”
While the Master Gardeners typically do not endorse brand names of products, Hernandez advised that gardeners must use the same brand of drip irrigation tube and connectors or they won’t fit.
She also recommended using the local hardware stores over big box stores, where customer service representatives can offer their expertise.
The Master Gardeners are planning additional demonstrations throughout the spring and summer.
They will have a booth at the Family Fair, in April, and at the Colusa Farmers Markets.
Friday’s demonstration had the largest attendance to date, Hernandez said.