A woman recently called into a radio show which covers garden topics to complain that her water bill had tripled throughout the growing season in her area. It was discovered, throughout the conversation, that she had been using her outdoor hose to water plants every day throughout the growing season. Most novice gardeners may make the same mistake. There are several ways to avoid over-use of water, and, in turn, save money.
- Use a rain barrel. A traditional English rain barrel will suffice very well for most gardeners. And English rain barrel typically is connected to the gutters of a house such that rain from the gutters is collected within the barrel for future use in the garden. An English rain barrel has a fine mesh netting on the top so that insects cannot enter the barrel. It has a spigot on the bottom the gardener can turn on so that water flows out. Water is collected from the spigot into a watering can and used to water the garden.
- For a less traditional rain barrel, try this: Set up five-gallon buckets throughout the yard. Add a little water at first and add goldfish and guppies. The fish will eat insect eggs and larvae, reducing the mosquito population especially, and the waste produced by the fish will increase the fertility of the soil. Just be sure when scooping water out not to scoop a fish or two as well! The rain water will continue to collect in the open buckets, and the gardener can continue to utilize the water as long as there is enough in the buckets to suffice for the fish
Recycling water in the house is not only helping the environment, it will also greatly help the gardener's pocketbook. Some easy ways to reuse household water include:
- Collect water used for washing dishes. This is perhaps the simplest way to save and reuse water. Place a wide tub in the kitchen sink and let water collect within the tub when running water for washing dishes. Wash dishes within the tub. When the tub is full, dump the water into the garden. As long as the water is not bogged down with too much food debris, the water will be good for the garden. Using grey water with soap in it, especially dish soap, will only help the garden. Dish soap especially is good for the garden for two reasons: it binds water within the soil so that water stays available to plants' roots longer, and dish soap is also good for keeping pests, especially small pests, away.
- Collect water used for washing hands. Hand soap is fine for use in the garden as well. Again, place a wide tub in the bottom of the sink and use for watering plants when the tub becomes full.
- Reuse water used for cooking pasta and vegetables. The nutrients lost when cooking vegetables stays in the water used when cooking them. The nutrients act as a fertilizer to growing plants. Be sure to let the water cool to room temperature before using to water plants so as not to burn the plants.
- Finally, depending upon the size of the garden, place collection containers in the bathtub to collect the water as it is warming up. Doing this once per day can eliminate the use of the hose completely.