After a few weeks of truly beautiful early-spring weather, we’re in for a week of rain and periods of high winds with gusts of up to 40 mph.
The rain is much needed because our precipitation totals for the season have fallen below normal now—we had a wet December with above-average precipitation, but January and February have been very dry. Since inland California typically doesn’t get any rain between May and October, now is the time when we build up our water supply.
While rain is good news for California and almost everything we grow, cacti and other succulents prefer to be dry in winter. A little rain doesn’t hurt, but extended exposure can lead to rot, which in turn can spell the demise of the plant.
Just a few few weeks ago I blogged about how Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek protects its sensitive succulents from the winter rain. In our garden, I’ve never done anything in particular to protect the plants in our raised succulent beds from the rain because these beds contain mostly agaves, aloes, yuccas, echeverias and senecios—no cacti, which are generally more sensitive to overwatering and don’t like to be wet at all during their winter dormancy.
However, now that I’m the proud owner of a budding cactus empire, I’m more aware of how detrimental too much winter rain can be. Next fall we will build a more permanent (and visually attractive) solution to protect our succulent display table. For this week’s bad weather I quickly threw together a temporary shelter consisting of a plastic sheet that I found in the garage, and an assortment of rocks and bricks to weight it down on top of the fence. I’ve been keeping an eye on it all day to see how it handles strong gusts, and so far so good.
|I wonder what the neighbors will think???|
I should mention that I moved the taller columnar cacti from the display table to the front porch before I put up the tarp—I didn’t want them to get damaged by the billowing plastic.
|High-tech way of making sure the tarp doesn’t fly off|
Yes, I agree, my makeshift shelter isn’t the most beautiful thing, but it should do the trick.
How does that old saying go? Necessity is the mother of all invention? Well, in spite of the necessity, I’m not much of an inventor—just a gardener who typically flies by the seats of his pants.