Published on: 1/8/19, 7:31 pm
I like to consider myself an eco-gardener. I use few pesticides and I recycle, upcycle and repurpose whenever I can. Like many people I own and use several water butts, which are a fantastic way to utilise all the lovely free rainwater nature provides.
Over the past few years I’ve been reading and researching about other sources of water too. I’m talking about grey water. But what is grey water and how can gardeners make use of it?
Grey water, for those not in the know, is any kind of household wastewater apart from toilet water, which is considered ‘black water’, and which should definitely not be recycled by the average gardener.
You can reclaim water from your washing machine or dishwasher, but this can prove costly and time consuming. The best advice for us amateur eco-gardeners is ‘keep it simple’, especially in the first instance.
Basically, this means water from the kitchen sink, the bath or shower, or paddling pool.
Getting grey water to the garden is not difficult. In the case of washing-up water, simply use a removable plastic bowl in the sink which can be carried out. For baths and paddling pools ask at your garden centre or local DIY store for a water siphon hand pump. All you have to do is prime the siphon with a couple of squeezes then let the water run out into your temporary storage containers.
Once you have the grey water you need to clean it before using it in the garden. This involves filtering it into a large watering can through a piece of fleece or muslin to remove any debris and obvious residue. The water should then be left to cool. It needs to be used within 24 hours to prevent bacterial build-up.
Now that many of us are on water meters recycling our water makes both good environmental and sound economic sense too.
Keep it simple - It is possible to buy special kits to convert all your home’s grey water for garden-usage, but these can prove expensive. You’re more likely to try something that’s cheap and easy. If you really get into water-recycling though, then go for it!
Think natural - Switch to environmentally friendly cleaning and beauty products. These are biodegradable and won’t harm your plants.
Don’t forget the shower - Put the plug in when you shower, and you can save the water for the garden.
Safety-first - All grey water will contain some bacteria. Use it within 24 hours but don’t use it for edible plants or for pots and containers, only on decorative border plants.
Think laterally - You don’t have to restrict grey-water to garden usage. Use it to clean the car too!