How drought affects life, landscapes |

How drought affects life, landscapes

David Kuttler
Submitted to The Union

Can you believe this winter? What winter? Driest year ever! Wells will go dry, lakes and reservoirs may not fill up, water will be a premium. Food prices will go up, water will be rationed or at best, conservatively used.

California has a new crisis on its hands — one which will affect almost everyone in the United States. California produces 80 percent of the food, veggies, fruits, nuts, rice, etc., for the U.S.

Already the farmers have to irrigate and water winter crops, which normally don't need winter watering. Without rain, there's not enough water for the grasses that feed our grazing animals; hay will have to be trucked in from out of state, driving up the cost of dairy and meat products. Fields will have to follow, driving up the cost of produce.

And the fish? No water, no fish. So far 70 to 80 percent of the natural salmon spawn have been killed off due to low river levels, and many other river-spawning fish will also be affected (the sturgeon and the stripped bass), according to a report from the Department of Fish and Wildlife. This will be a year of new lessons to be learned on water conservation.

So how does this affect each of us? What can we do? First, gardens and landscapes are all bone dry. I have been watering my winter vegetables every few days in this January. Almost never have I had to water in winter. My garden is growing like it's spring. Today it's actually raining.

The trees and landscapes are stressed and need winter water to survive. Roots grow in winter to support the plants throughout the year. Without water, roots can't grow well. Depending on how much rain this storm produces, we will need to do some deep winter watering. Don't waste water! Slow water so that it doesn't run off and only water what is important. You can't water everything. I recommend not doing a lot of new landscaping that requires lots of water. Wait until next year or later this spring to see what rains we get. Everyone will have to conserve.

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Around your landscape, leave your leaves and debris to hold any moisture that comes. Removing leaves only lets the water runoff and provides no nutrients to the soil. Contact Kuttler's or any local tree companies and try to get their chippings to utilize in your yard. Not only do they hold dawn the weeds, but they hold the moisture in place and provide nutrients.

Take shorter showers, do less laundry and don't let water run when brushing your teeth. It will take all of us to conserve if we are going to make it through this drought. Think about it daily in your water use. Who knows how long this could last?

For questions regarding trees and landscape, call Kuttler's Tree Service at 530-432-9930.

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