Welcome to my zone 9a habitat garden near Houston, Texas.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Houston has received only 1.5 inches of rain in the last three months. That is 15 percent of its normal amount and less than some parts of the Sahara Desert get during the same period. In my own yard, we've actually gotten less than that.

The entire state of Texas is now in its driest 7-month span on record. Again, in my own yard, the drought actually started somewhat earlier than that. We've not had significant rainfall since July of last year. July was a wet month but the nine months since then have all been dry. You have to dig deep to find any moisture in the soil at all, unless you are digging in one of the beds for which I regularly provide water.

But that, too, may end soon. Our area is now in "voluntary" water conservation. Patrons of the water district are "encouraged" not to water lawns, trees, and other plants. If we get no relief from Mother Nature soon, that voluntary water rationing will quickly morph into mandatory water rationing.

I have actually cut back some on my watering, although I haven't yet cut it out altogether. I have too much sweat and too many aching muscles invested in my plants to watch them shrivel and die while I can still provide some water. The time may come when I won't be able to do that, but I'll put it off for as long as I can. So I pile on as much mulch as I dare and wet it down and hope for the best.

1951 was the first year of a six-year drought in Texas. The state is now drier than it was then; however, it is not yet as dry as it was in the fifth year of that drought, 1956. I wasn't here then and I wasn't doing any gardening then anyway except for what my mother made me do, but this is certainly the driest time that I have ever experienced. I wouldn't want to experience a drier one.

Meanwhile, the Mississippi River has crested at Memphis and folks in the Mississippi Delta south of there, all the way down to New Orleans, are watching that muddy water rise with some trepidation. Drought on the one hand and flood on the other. Mother Nature sure is a joker, isn't she?

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