Graywater For Crops

Discussion in 'Crops & Gardens' started by Ken Anderson, Mar 2, 2016.

  1. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    When I bought a house in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas in the 1980s, the previous owner had rerouted the drains for the kitchen sink and bathroom shower to run along the sides of the house, where he had gardens, using a drip system to water all the plants along the way, including an orange tree, which is where everything that hadn't dripped out along the way went.

    When I bought the house, he offered to reconnect it to the city water, given that rerouting it like that wasn't exactly up to code, but it seemed like a good idea to me.

    It was a good idea. Given the heat that we'd have in the Valley, that was an excellent way of watering the plants. Of course, I had to make sure that I used soaps and shampoos that were environmentally friendly, and not to dump any nasty stuff into my drain. Of course, if I wanted to dump nasty stuff into the drain, I had another bathroom and a utility sink where I could do that.

    That probably wouldn't be such a good idea in Maine, given that we'd have a thick, solid sheet of ice all the way around the house, but it worked well in Texas.
     
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  2. Yvonne Smith

    Yvonne Smith Very Well-Known Member
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    When I lived in north Idaho, and had to haul water, every bit of it was very dear to come by. I also drained the water from my little portable washing machine outside and onto the little garden area that I had out there.
    In the winter time, I didn't do that , since it would have just made ice; plus, the 55 gallon drums where I stored water were outside,and unusable during the winter.
    I had to carry in snow every night, and melted that in the bathtub and used that for inside water, except for drinking, of course.
    Most of the soap is not bad for the garden either, and the reason that a lot of it was considered bad was because it made algae and other water plants grow prolifically in the lakes and streams. Therefore, it was almost like using a fertilizer when it ran into the garden.
     
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  3. Corie Henson

    Corie Henson Very Well-Known Member
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    So that's what you mean by graywater - the water from the sink and bathroom drainage. I don't think that would be applicable here because my husband is very protective when it comes to the plants. We have a laudrywoman who used to throws the laundry water into the backyard lawn. When my husband noticed the whitish shade of the grass, he investigated and confirmed that it was laundry soap. Well, the laundry woman got a good scolding for that. Besides protecting the plants, we also have dogs who roam around the property so it is not advisable to use graywater for irrigation. But for a rural farm, I thnk that's a good idea in conserving water.
     
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  4. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    Did you read what I posted? What you are saying, in reply, is that it wouldn't work for you because your husband cares about your plants, while apparently I don't care about mine. Using soapy water on plants has long been a means of not only providing water that they need, but it also helps to control insect pests. Soapy water penetrates the waxy coating on the outside of many harmful insects, and is only harmful when you use harmful soaps. It helps to control several common pests while leaving the more common beneficial ones alone. Harmful effects of irrigating with soapy water are easy to avoid since it’s best not to use harmful soaps on your own body as well. If you use safe soaps, it is safe for you, safe for your plants, safe for your dogs, and safe for the environment, and this was true despite the fact that I lived in a city (I did mention city water), and not on a farm.
     
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  5. Ina I. Wonder

    Ina I. Wonder Very Well-Known Member
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    @Ken Anderson , as you know I live in one of the largest cities in Texas, Because I'm in an unincorporated area, I still have my own well and septic system. Untill about three years ago, we had a garden of several acers, and we had set the kitchen sink, clothes washer, and our shower to a grey water drip system help with the watering issues. We were lucky to have a very small lake that with a sump pump we didn't have the problems that many gardeners do here in the Texas heat. I still have the grey water drip line, but now it just waters my yard so it needs cutting more.
     
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  6. Corie Henson

    Corie Henson Very Well-Known Member
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    The soap here may be harmful not only to the plants but also to our dogs hence I said we cannot do that. In fairness to you, we use liquid dishwashing soap to drive away pests in the plants and even ticks that are hiding in the rocks and soil. But we rinse the area after an hour with that soap. There was a time that we forgot to rinse the soap that was sprayed in the sugar apple. Some of the leaves had withered so we are careful with the soapy water.
     
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  7. Diane Lane

    Diane Lane Very Well-Known Member
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    Ken, the grey water is just what comes from the sinks, right, not the toilets? I'm pretty sure that's the case, but I've never delved into the matter. I was just discussing recycling water with a friend last night, because I was looking around online as we talked, and saw a rain barrel advertised. My friend couldn't imagine what I'd want a rain barrel for, but since I'm in Texas, and as you mentioned, it's very warm here, I tend to go through more water in the long hot summers, so I've been considering purchasing some sort of rain barrel.

    This is the portable rain barrel I was looking at, in case anyone's interested. https://www.tanga.com/deals/7942cd14209e/50-gallon-portable-rain-barrel tanga portable rain barrel.jpeg
     
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  8. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    Yes, of course. Since dishes are generally rinsed after they are washed, and since we tend to rinse ourselves off after being in the shower, you don't have soap accumulating on the leaves of the plants either, since it is rinsed off. We have a couple of rain barrels that we use up north but, of course, they simply collect rainwater and provide some filtering.
     
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  9. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Very Well-Known Member
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    Regard Water: Up in the woods, with NO well or water source other than the City Park 26 miles away, we of course used every drop of gray water for the planting. 6700 feet elevation, so cabbage was one of the few things grown (other than rabbits!). Only had one sink, one drain, easy to catch the water. We, the cats and dog, goat, and 5 chickens got by on one trip a week to town, bringing back 50 gallons of water carried in 5-gallon plastic containers. Our "outhouse" used no water. Cooking was all done on a brand-new Elmira cookstove. We had plenty of firewood on 40 acres of ground. My wife only very reluctantly gave up that stove 30 years later, when we held an auction prior to leaving Missouri after 13 years there. Doggoned stove was a heavy "move"!

    The cabin was a gambrel-roofed affair I designed, 16 X 40 feet, two stories. We lived upstairs, stored everything down. Bought an old Servel gas refrigerator in Phoenix, big one, had a freezer compartment, even, used propane for refrigeration! Our first T-V around 1950 had commercial ads for Servel. The front doors featured a tiny logo of a blue gas-flame. No moving parts, no mechanism, no electricity required!

    I may have understood it incorrectly, but rumor had it Frigidaire bought out all the Servel patents, and removed the product line from commercial sale.
     
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  10. Diane Lane

    Diane Lane Very Well-Known Member
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    I have a difficult enough time with managing (lifting/carrying) cat litter, I can't imagine not having piped in water. I try to keep some extra jugs of water on hand, especially during hurricane season, but it takes a lot of water to run a household. I watch some of the off grid shows on occasion, and the water issues seems as if it would be a difficult one for me to manage. I'd also never survive with just an outhouse, although it seems a lot of the dry cabins have composting toilets these days.
     
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  11. Jim Beam

    Jim Beam Member
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    Grey water is much better than what is used in many other countries. *Phew*
     
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  12. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    The use of greywater is a responsible use of water. Rather than draining it back into the municipal water system, where is has to be processed through whatever means they use, the water, and the nutrients that are contained in it, are used to feed and water your plants, trees, or whatever. As long as you're not dumping dangerous chemicals into your drain, you'll have the benefits without the risks. It might make sense not to have all of your drains leading to a greywater irrigation system in the event that yo do do sometimes our such things into your sink, but it's not hard to get used to paying attention what's going down the drain.
     
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