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Whether you are growing vegetables or flowers, there are statewide weather patterns and conditions that can affect your garden in Kansas this year. Weather patterns all across the globe have been increasing in intensity over the past few years and The Sunflower State is no exception.
There were over 50 tornadoes and a few notable storms that had strong winds with hail in Kansas in 2022.
Extreme weather dominated in 2022 in Kansas, but not much, mainly due to a drought. There were, however, over 50 tornadoes and a few notable storms that had strong winds with hail. Storms such as that one can damage crops and gardens. Additionally, in 2022, one arctic blast in late February took the southwest part of the state from the 70s into the 20s in less than 24 hours. Experts expect these types of weather patterns to emerge in 2023, as they are typical for the state. However, the primary concern for Kansas gardeners in the spring of 2023 is likely going to be drought.
Is the 2022 Kansas Drought Over?
The short answer is no: the 2022 Kansas drought is not over.
In 2022, 7 Kansas towns in the western part of the state recorded the driest year in recorded history.
In 2022, 7 Kansas towns in the western part of the state recorded the driest year in recorded history. The year was even drier than the infamous Dust Bowl years. According to the National Integrated Drought Information System at drought.gov, 85% of Kansas is currently “abnormally dry” and over half of the state is in a “severe drought.” More concerning is that nearly 35% of the state is in an exceptional drought. And, it doesn’t appear to be letting up anytime soon.
The cause of the drought is a rare “triple dip” of La Niña, a weather pattern that causes drier than normal weather in the southern US and wetter weather in the midwest. Kansas is often on the border of the area affected by this pattern. Sometimes in a La Niña year, Kansas gets more than average rainfall. However, these past few years have seen it on the drought side. Meteorologists believe that this pattern will change to the more typical El Niño pattern next winter, but no one can say for sure.
How To Care For Your Garden During a Drought
Speaking of weeds, they compete with your plants for valuable resources like water.
With nearly 85% of Kansas experiencing dry conditions, gardeners in the state wonder how to keep their gardens healthy and thriving in drought conditions.
Experts recommend watering less frequently with more water, as opposed to daily light watering. A weekly watering that gives at least an inch of moisture will help your plants to establish deeper root systems, which will help during the hot and dry summer. This deeper watering will also help to prevent evaporation so your plants will get to enjoy more water.
You can also use mulch in your garden beds to prevent the sun from baking the soil and causing evaporation. This also helps to keep weeds at bay.
Speaking of weeds, they compete with your plants for valuable resources like water. So, experts recommend wedding your garden thoroughly and dead-heading flowering plants that require it as early as possible to allow water to go to plants that need it to grow.
Gardening aficionados also suggest stopping using fertilizer during a drought. Fertilizer causes plants to grow larger, thus, making them need more water.
If you have the time and funds, changing from overhead watering to a drip irrigation system can really help you save water. It sends the water directly to where it is needed, which not only prevents evaporation but also keeps the leaves and flowers dry which can prevent fungal infections.
Important Kansas Gardening Dates and Milestones For Spring
In Kansas, when spring rolls around in March, serious gardeners should get their soil ready for planting.
In Kansas, when spring rolls around in March, serious gardeners should get their soil ready for planting. You can test the soil to see if it is lacking any nutrients.
To prepare for the growing season, experts recommend applying a dormant oil spray to fruit trees in March to prevent mites, and fungicides to peach and nectarine trees to prevent peach leaf curl. This is also the time to prune fruit trees, shrubs, and other trees. However, if you have a flowering shrub, wait until it blooms to prune it.
The things to plant in March include:
- New roses
- New trees
- All your perennials
Start seeds indoors for tomatoes, peppers, and flowers that do not do well in cooler weather at this time.
Carrots are planted in April.
In your Kansas garden, you should harvest larger asparagus spears until their size decreases throughout April and May. You should also prune raspberry and blackberry bushes. April is also the time to start turning your compost after letting it rest in the winter. You should also repair any winter storm damage to trees during this month.
Things to plant in April:
- New fruit trees
- Vine crops
- New roses
- New trees
- New shrubs
As your carrots, onions, and other root vegetables grow, thin them out as needed throughout the month of April. If you wrapped any of your trees to prevent freeze damage, you can take the wrap off in April or May.
May is when you should plant your cucumbers.
As spring draws to a close and it’s almost time for summer, your garden may be starting to bloom. It’s almost time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. You will want to mulch your flower beds and around trees and shrubs as the weather becomes warmer to help with moisture retention.
May is when you should plant your tomato and pepper seedlings that have now grown into strong starter plants. You can also plant:
- Sweet corn
- Annual flowers that will bloom in the summer
More Info For Kansas Gardeners
Looking for trustworthy resources on gardening conditions in Kansas? There are several non-profit organizations that farmers and gardening enthusiasts can rely on for information.