BE PROACTIVE IN GARDEN
Choose plants appropriately based on their adaptability to your soil and climate
Oct. 04, 2013
by Kathy Toerck/Victoria County Master Gardener Intern
Edited by Charla Borchers Leon/Victoria County Master Gardener
The most recent available Texas drought monitor maps indicate that our area has improved from a moderate drought to abnormally dry conditions with rainfall the last couple of weeks. This map was updated Oct. 3 for purposes of this illustration. The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced in partnership among the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
PHOTOS BY BRYNN LEE/VICTORIA COUNTY MASTER GARDENER
A Texas Superstar display garden was introduced to Victoria Educational Gardens in 2010, replacing a trial rose garden. The Superstar plants can be found at the back of the gardens and along the fence near the cathedral arbor.
Planted near a trickling blue vase fountain at Victoria Educational Gardens are Superstars, including, Mexican Bush Sage and Pride of Barbados. The tree in the center back is a Retama Jerusalem thorn.
Superstars were super performers throughout the previous hot and dry months at VEG. With direct sunlight and a minimum of moisture, (left to right) the Vitex (Texas Lilac), blue salvia, Thryallis and Firebush plants bloomed profusely with relatively little attention and care at VEG.
In 1891, Congress gave $2,000 to Gen. R.G. Dyrenforth to continue his research in creating rain by exploding dynamite and gunpowder in the air. Dyrenforth was really not a general; he was considered a "concussionist."
He noticed that during battles in which there were a lot of explosions in the sky from fighting that, generally, the next day rain fell. Guess where he started to test his theory? Midland.
Needless to say, his research was deemed an expensive farce after he blew up outhouses, scared cattle and generally wreaked havoc around the area.
Man has tried to come up with ways to control the weather, but so far, we have not been very successful, just like the general.
What is a drought?
According to the United States Geological Survey, drought is defined as a "condition of moisture deficit sufficient to have an adverse effect on vegetation, animals and man over a sizeable area." There are three types of drought:
I believe that Texas at this point has them all.
Facts about the drought
According to Texas A&M University, most of Texas has been experiencing severe drought conditions for the last three years. Texas is in the worst drought on record. The driest year Texas has ever experienced was in 2011; the average rainfall across the state was 14.8 inches. Officially, the drought began in October 2011 and continues today.
Causes of drought
In 2011, the weather pattern known as La Nina was in control of our weather. During this pattern, the water of the Pacific Ocean is cooled. This creates drier and warmer weather in the southern U.S. Meteorologists predicted an El Nino pattern would form with more moisture and cooler temperatures, but so far, this has not happened. As of now, the drought is expected to hold steady or even worsen in the coming months.
U.S. drought monitor
A good source to look and see how your area is faring is to look at the monitor with a map that is updated weekly and shows the drought intensity in your particular area. See the map in conjunction with this article or go to droughtmonitor.unl.edu to look at the most recent data.
Gardening during drought
Earth-Kind Landscaping, developed by horticulturalists with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, is a program that suggests a number of environmentally responsible gardening practices that protect and preserve the environment during periods of both normal rainfall and drought conditions.
We all know that eventually it will rain but being proactive and preparing for the time it doesn't rain - and preserving the water when we do have extra - is crucial in Texas.
The Gardeners' Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas AgriLife Extension - Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment on this column at VictoriaAdvocate.com.
• Texas bluebonnet
• Texas golden columbine
• Lowrey's legacy cenizo
• Gold star esperanza
• Firecracker jatropha
• New gold lantana
• Dwarf Mexican petunia
• Mexican bush sage
• Laura Bush petunia
• Pride of Barbados
• Knockout rose
Go to texassuperstars.com for complete list