10 ways to water gardens during a drought

Many areas are in a drought this year, and even if your area isn’t, these tips are fantastic for your gardens, conserve water, and some have added benefits.

It’s often referred to as “gray watering” because the water has been used, but can be reused.

1. Laundry water- Divert water from your washing machine, but ONLY use water from washes with regular detergent or biocompatible detergent, no bleach, no dyes, no softener, or anything else except detergent. You’ll water with “free” water, plus the detergent discourages many insects.

2. Dishwater- Use regular dish soap, only, no bleach, or other additives. Drop a large bowl or plastic bin in the bottom of your sink. Use this for hand washing dishes. Instead of draining the water, pour it onto your gardens instead. Collect the rinse water as well.

3. Pasta water- Do not add oil when cooking pasta, wait until the pasta is drained to add oil. Drain into a container that can tolerate the heat. Allow to cool and water your garden with it. Nutrients are an added benefit.

4. Vegetable rinse water- If you rinse your vegetables in clear water before storing, use a clean tub in the bottom of your sink to collect the water.

5. Stale pet water- Freshening up Fido’s water bowl? Pour the stale water on your plants.

6. Waiting water- This is running water that is wasted down the drain while you’re waiting for it to heat up. Grab a bucket and your “wait water” can be used on plants.

7. Leftover drinks- Coffee, tea, lemonade, kool aid, sodas, ice, etc. Any non-alcoholic, non-dairy drink that will be discarded can be collected in a bucket and used to water plants. They get added benefits from nutrients as well.

8. Boiled egg (or anything) water- Use the water from boiling eggs or blanching vegetables. As long as it is free from oils, fats, or dairy, its good to go. Plants love the nutrients from egg water.

9. Pool water- Most pool filters require you to backwash it, usually weekly. You can purchase a hose for relatively cheap (about $10) to attach to your filter to divert the waste water to gardens and lawns.

10. Fish tank water- Plants love the water from fish tanks, so while you’re cleaning your fish tank, discard dirty water in your gardens. Do not use water from a saltwater fish tank.

When using recycled or gray water, pour water at the roots, not on the leaves of the plants.

Some websites encourage recycling bath water. I usually do not do this unless I’m absolutely certain that soaps, shampoos, conditioners are oil-free and don’t contain too much salt. Use at your discretion, but it’s not in my top 10. 🙂

Please feel free to post your water recycling tips.
Happy growing.


3 thoughts on “10 ways to water gardens during a drought

  1. Re no. 7, it’s fine to use drinks with milk. In fact, milk can discourage fungal diseases such as powdery mildew. Most councils in the UK require containers for recycling to be rinsed out first and I always add the water from rinsing milk cartons to plants – they seem very happy with it.

    There should be also be no problem using bath water. A small amount of oil is unlikely to cause a problem; most recipes for soap insecticides include oil and the soap itself needs to be solid (i.e. fat-based rather than detergent), thus oil clearly doesn’t harm plants. If you’re concerned, the easiest way to deal with it is to drain the water into a water butt or similar container with a tap/faucet/spigot at the bottom, leave for 24 hours to allow any oil to float to the top, and then drain off the water from the bottom to use on the garden, leaving the top couple of inches in the container to be discarded. Obviously, the container will then need to be washed out before re-use. I don’t bother doing that, though – I just put it straight on, but like all grey water, only poured round the plants, not directly onto the foliage.

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