June 8, 2017
It was with best intentions that we pulled together the "drought edition" of the Neighborhood Gardener newsletter for June 2017. The drought had reached critical levels in a couple areas of Florida and the rest of the state just plain needed the rain. Wildfires were popping up across the peninsula and lawns were turning a crispy shade of brown. Educating our readers on drought-proofing their landscapes seemed like a great idea. The best laid plans of mice and men...
Recent rain totals in Naples were over 20 inches already this month, and Gainesville tied a record for a daily rain total for June. I know my 5-inch capacity rain gauge was full! This is just the life of a gardener in Florida—you prepare for drought and you get a monsoon.
Florida on average gets 52 inches of rain per year, but it's not spread out evenly over the seasons. We make the most of the precipitation when it is here and expect it to be dry the rest of the time. With our well-drained sandy soils the soil moisture doesn’t stick with us for very long. This is why it is important to use the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ practices 365 days a year, especially mulching to help to hold on to the soil moisture. And if your rain barrels were up and running you could have filled them all and had that captured water for a drier day.
So to all of you who washed the car, hung laundry out to dry, and did your rain dances, we thank you. Hopefully the summer rains are here to stay, but keep in mind—saving water in the landscape is always a good idea.
-- Wendy Wilber