It was the stormiest and wettest part of a surprisingly soggy mid-December, when a series of smaller rainfalls brought the month’s total to 11.25 inches of rain. That’s compared to about one-third of an inch in droughty December 2013.
It’s also more rain than had hit Castroville, where we’re located, in the previous 23 months combined, according to the National Weather Service.
The Dec. 11 and 12 rain was accompanied by high-powered winds. The NWS said some gusts in that storm exceeded 45mph.
So, what effect did the storm have on Succulent Gardens? Fortunately, all damage was slight and easily repaired.
Before the winds came, we made sure there was nothing left outside that might be turned into ‘missiles’ if picked up and thrown around by gusts.
The biggest impact from the wind was that the shade cloth that provides a weather-permeable roof on one bay of our House 3 greenhouse, an area that is occupied mostly by 15-gallon plants, came loose and folded over onto the solid roof of the next bay. It was put back in place and secured afterward.
The rain caused more problems than the wind, but again, they were easily repaired.
The worst of it was deep new ruts created in our east parking lot and our north access road, both of which have dirt surfaces. Pushed down our sloping site by the excessive runoff from a 6.5-inch downpour, soil from the parking lot clogged a couple of our drains and ditches. We dug those out afterwards, but in the midst of the storm, the backups directed some soil into House 1, our farthest downhill greenhouse (the one where retail customers enter). There were messy floors the first day after the storm, but no damage.
In the week after the largest storm, smaller downpours followed for the next eight days. The largest brought three-quarters of an inch of rain. When the skies and the soil finally began feeling dry again late in the month, we were able to be grateful for the small dent that the rains had made in California’s drought without causing any major headaches at our nursery.
There is a common misconception that succulents don’t need water, or need very little. While there is some truth in the “need very little” part, the truth is that succulents like water, and they like to be watered deeply.