So far this summer, gardeners in the Pacific Northwest have been lucky. A few days and nights of rain have come our way and our temperatures have been moderate. Last year at this time we were deep into drought and suffering through multiple heat-waves. By this time last summer my rain barrels were empty and I had two raised beds full of vegetables and 7 large container gardens demanding water. In addition, I was growing annuals to use for a July wedding. Out of necessity I began collecting water from sources I hadn’t used in the past. Some of those sources I will discuss here.
- Water used for washing fruits and vegetables can be collected and used for your garden. Keep a large bowl in your kitchen sink at all times to collect this water. Water from steaming vegetables or used for cooking foods other than meats can be used in your garden, also.
- If you let water run until warm before you shower or bath, that water can be collected and used for gardening. I keep a bucket near the shower at all times for this purpose. The slight inconvenience of removing the bucket before using soap and shampoo is offset by the extra water available for plants.
- If you have a fish pond or water feature that uses biological filters that need to be cleaned periodically, the water used for cleaning those filters should be given to your plants. They will love you for it!
- Of course, rain barrels are a great source of extra water for your ornamental plants whether they are in ground or in containers. I don’t use rain barrel water for food crops, but this water can be used for all other plants.
- Last, and this idea may not be to everyone’s liking, I pour left-over coffee and tea sans milk and/or sugar into the bowl I keep in my kitchen sink for water collection. This practice doesn’t contribute much volume to my water collecting, but it does add up over a day and my Ericaceous plants, and some ferns, seem very happy with the extra boost.
I am sure you have found water-collecting practices that work for your garden. At this time, we don’t have the ability to collect all the grey water produced here but we do use some, specifically rinse water from washing dishes. As climate change progresses and the Pacific Northwest experiences more periods of drought, these practices can help alleviate some of the stress our landscapes will experience.
After all, every drop counts.