Keep your garden alive during summer droughts
Water is a crucial part of any thriving garden and during summer many towns will experience water restrictions and droughts. This can add more stress to an already difficult growing period. Water restrictions can sometimes mean you cannot use hoses, irrigation or you may have limited days in which you can use them.
Do you rely solely on rainwater? Your tanks may be getting low or you are just conscious about preserving the water you have. Here are some tips and tricks to get the most out of the water you use and keep your gardens alive and producing food.
Water-Saving Tips for Water Restrictions
Make sure you check with your local council to see which restrictions are in place.
🌱 MAKE ECO SWAPS | Use eco, greywater friendly cleaning products so that you can start reusing the water you use in your home out into the garden. You can easily find many greywater friendly products these days or recipes to make simple cleaning products with no nasties. Not only is it better for your health to stop using nasty chemicals but it is also better for the environment – where the water will end up eventually. Products such as washing powder, dishwashing liquid, hand soap, shampoo, spray and wipe and anything you mix in with water.
🌱 GET PREPARED | Place a bucket or large watering can at your back door or somewhere that is both close to your house and in the direction of your gardens. This way you will have easy, convenient access to offload any water you have used and keep it to use on your gardens. Inform your family or housemates of where it is and what should be put in it (water with no nasty chemicals). Getting kids involved is a great way to teach them about the environment and how to be water-wise.
🌱 COOKING WATER | Pour any water used in cooking into your watering can. Water used to boil potatoes, rice, pasta, veggies etc can all go into your recycled water bucket.
🌱 OLD WATER BOTTLES | Pour any old water from water bottles that you don’t want to drink into your recycled water bucket.
🌱 DISH WATER | Depending on how involved you want to get, you could try washing your dishes in a bucket or tub in the sink to capture the water (making sure you’re using chemical-free, greywater friendly products). You could also use a bowl or pot to scoop out the majority of the water from the sink and place in your recycled water bucket. Or for a long term solution, you could direct your sink or dishwasher drain directly into the garden. IMPORTANT: Greywater can hold some pathogens so it is important to only use it on fruit trees and non-edibles and not straight onto your veggie patch. Check your local council restrictions.
🌱 WASHING MACHINE | The same as above you can either put the drainage hose in a container or bucket (ensure it’s large enough and only clean, eco-friendly products are used) or direct the pipes straight out into the garden for a long term solution. If your laundry is next to a window or door you could have a water container with a tap set up off the ground that you can place the hose into and then empty it into your watering can as needed. IMPORTANT: Greywater can hold some pathogens so it is important to only use it on fruit trees and non-edibles and not straight onto your veggie patch. Check your local council restrictions. Also, be aware that clothing will release microplastic if you have synthetic clothing.
🌱 SHOWER AND BATH | Showers can use a lot of water if you don’t restrict the flow and length of use. Place a bucket underneath to capture as much of the wastewater as possible or if you have a shower over bath set up, put the plug in and scoop the water out after. Make sure you have set up your shower with only eco, greywater friendly soaps, face washes and shampoo. IMPORTANT: Greywater can hold some pathogens so it is important to only use it on fruit trees and non-edibles and not straight onto your veggie patch. Check your local council restrictions.
🌱 RAINWATER CATCHMENT | Another great way to get more water is to set up catchments to harness the water that runs off your roof surface. Whether that is your house, garage or garden shed you can direct downpipes into water storage containers to use on your gardens. Rainwater is the absolute best kind of water for thriving gardens. Mains water that is provided by the City has chlorine and other additives in it that can slow or restrict growth.
MORE WATER-WISE GARDEN TIPS
Now that you have more water to use in your garden it is important to distribute that water in the most efficient and effective way. You don’t want to waste any of that precious water by evaporation or poor soil structure.
🌱 SLOW AND STEADY | The best way to get your plants to effectively absorb the water is to slowly distribute it and allow the plant time to absorb it. If you simply pour it on and walk away a lot of water will spread and run away across the surface and not be drawn down to the roots.
🌱 WATER UNDER MULCH | If you have a thick layer of mulch and only a limited amount of water, it is a good idea to pull back some of the mulch around the plant and pour the water directly onto the soil. Mulch can sometimes absorb ALL the water and not leave any for the plants. Mulch is great for protecting the soil and stopping evapouration so once the water is on the soil, push the mulch back around to keep the moisture locked in.
🌱 TIME IT RIGHT | Timing is everything. Choose cooler times to water your plants such as the early morning or late evening. This allows the plants to absorb as much of the water as possible before the sun and heat evapourate it. I tend to water any plants that are prone to mildew such as pumpkins, melons, cucumbers etc early in the morning rather than at night. That way they have time to absorb the moisture but they will also have all day to dry out if any moisture has reached their leaves. The rest of my gardens I tend to water in the evenings.
🌱 IMPROVE SOIL | Poor soil structure will be so hard to keep well watered as it will just let the water runoff or filter away. Sandy soils can become aquaphobic and be basically waterproof. Clay rich soils will become hard and compact restricting water flow to the roots. The best way to improve soil structure is to add fibre to your soils. Adding fibre means adding more plant matter by either compost of composted manure. Compost rich soil will retain more moisture and feed your plants. Healthy well-feed plants won’t require as much watering as their roots will be more developed and widespread to capture water more effectively.
🌱 SELECTIVE PLANTING | If you often have water restrictions or know there is likely to be a real water shortage in your area then make sure you are selective in what you choose to grow. Some plants will require more water than others so do your research and select plants that will work best for your conditions. Plants such as watermelons, tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce will require a lot more water than plants such as chilli, natives, citrus, corn, sweet potato or mini eggplant.
My favourite watering tools are:
Retractable Hose with 7 spray nozzle and water flow adjuster: Control exactly how much flow you want to each plant with this flow adjusting hose. CLICK HERE for more info.
Deep root waterer and soil breaker: Helps get water directly to the roots without any runoff or loss of water from evaporation. CLICK HERE for more info.
Weeper hose works great for drip-feeding water and allowing the plants to absorb more. CLICK HERE for more info.
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