Despite the recent spate of wet and gloomy weather, some parts of the UK are still in a state of drought (due to something technical to do with the water-tables, no doubt) and even in the comparatively damp North West of the country, it doesn’t hurt to think about implementing water conservation measures now that the weather has finally taken a turn for the Mediterranean.
We have two large water-butts and two small on our backyard plot, but when we hit a prolonged dry spell that’s still probably only about enough for a week or so’s watering. And when supplies do start to get low, we reach for the gardener’s best friend in times of drought: the humble bucket.
We probably manage to fill our builder’s bucket (as per the one in the picture, available from every hardware store around and I think I saw them going for a few quid in our local Sainsbury’s last week) at least twice during the course of the day, just from the water that would otherwise go straight down the drain. That’s two large watering cans’ worth, which isn’t an insignificant amount when there’s no rain to be had, and here’s how we accumulate it:
1. The Shower – We have one of those boilers that only warms water on demand, which means that there’s always an initial run-off of cold water while it heats up to showering temperature. Bucket under the shower-head and between the two of us, that’s usually one filled up before breakfast.
Empty that into a watering can and then bring it back inside into…
2. The Kitchen – I work from home most days, so I use the kitchen a few times per day – tea breaks, lunch, the usual – and that means I end up using a surprising amount of H2O just by doing simple things like rinsing mugs before I re-use them, washing my hands and so forth; it all adds up. So: into the bucket with the odd splash or two and before you know it, that can be another one filled. Especially if I’ve done a non-greasy washing-up batch at lunchtime: the grey water from that is perfectly fine for watering flowers and shrubs, especially as we use Ecover washing-up liquid, which is biodegradable.
Even if you’re not watering every evening – this year we’re aiming to follow the advice of the experts in Grow Your Own magazine and try to water plants heavily once a week rather than sprinkling them every other day – the grey water from the sink can still go into a water-butt until you need it, although you’ll need to keep an eye out for any accumulation of muck at the bottom once it’s settled a bit. And any diluted detergent that’s in there should stop mosquitoes from laying their eggs on the surface of the water as well (apparently the detergent breaks the surface tension so the eggs sink instead of floating and the larvae can’t hatch).
What about everyone else? What are your top water-saving tips? Let us know in the comments, below: