While winter storms provided a unique set of challenges, they often bring with them a blessing: water.
The past few weeks have been exceptionally moist here in New Mexico. Rainfall and snow have decorated our landscape with saturated vistas and winter blankets. While the heat of summer and scarcity of water may be far from our minds, this winter moisture is key to ensuring the health of plants and animals throughout the year.
However, it’s not just how much moisture we get that’s important. It’s how long we get to keep it.
Snowfall provides an excellent opportunity of this concept in action. Following snow fall, take a look outside. Observe each day where the snow has melted and where it remains. Notice micro-climates.
While we’re weeks out from our last big snow storm, snow remains on the ground in some places. These cooler, protected patches of ground are able to hold onto the snow for longer periods of time and release snow melt at a slower rate. Why does this matter? Slowing down the pace of water moving through a system means the plants and animals in the system can use the water over longer periods of time.
While snow provides an excellent visual for this process, we can treat any form of precipitation the same way. How? Mulch. Build organic matter in the soil. Keep plants in the ground year round. Create shade. Dig soil sponges. Utilize swales. Above all, be creative! Observe patterns of success in nature and explore possibilities in your own space.