But first, recognize that in our mountains all weather is local! Native Americans referred to the Weaverville area as the “Dry Ridge” and it is indeed one of the driest points in the eastern US. Yet only some 30 miles away but several thousand feet higher in altitude, Alta Pass is among the wettest, continually dampened as rising air from the west is forced to drop its load of moisture.
Then you have anomalies like the fact that Asheville’s “official” rainfall is not actually measured at Asheville. The official weather station for Asheville, North Carolina is located at the Asheville-Hendersonville Airport, ten miles south of, and not even in the same county as Asheville.
So that’s why your own journal notes and observations are important. Gathering data from your own rain gauge and thermometer readings can be helpful in comparing one year to the next and identifying needs or trends in your garden. Even better than judging rainfall by the condition of your neighbor’s lawn!
Back to the Drought Monitor. By their definition in a “moderate drought” we can expect “Some damage to crops, pastures; streams, reservoirs, or low wells; some water shortages developing or imminent; voluntary water-use restrictions requested.”
So, fellow gardeners, it’s time to start setting priorities on which plants get first dibs for irrigation. Get outside before breakfast and water early in the morning. Mulch to help conserve what soil moisture you do have. Maybe change some priorities for your plantings in the fall garden. Perhaps let some space stand fallow or with a cover crop.
And a self-serving reminder: Buncombe County Cooperative Extension has rain barrels for sale! Even occasional brief rain can fill a rain barrel.
*U.S. Drought Monitor of North Carolina, June 23, 2015 http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu
For more information about coping with drought: http://content.ces.ncsu.edu/coping-with-drought-a-guide-to-understanding-plant-response-to-drought.pdf
Article written by Glenn Palmer, Extension Master Gardener Volunteer.