Monday, January 11, 2016

10 quick water saving tips

Around the country we are watching the horror of living in a drought. We have friends who farm in the Free State whose water supply is nearly done. On Facebook we are seeing pleas from people in Colesberg and Aliwal who have no water - imagine that - turning on a tap for a drink and having NOTHING come out...Groups are springing up asking for water and money donations for stricken is very sad.

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit friends who live on the edge of the dam that brings Cape Town its water and I was shocked to see how low it is.

Theewaterskloof Dam
Some may blame global warming, others El Nino, others the sin of the government or whatever else...but the facts are simple: WE HAVE A DROUGHT PEOPLE and what are YOU going to do about it?

Driving back from this weekend away I was on high alert...I saw school fields being watered with sprinklers in gale force winds - most of the water blowing away. I saw sports grounds watering at 12 o'clock in the day...I even saw neighbouring houses using automated sprinklers where the one was shooting water onto the tar, not even the grass verge. And then there are the folk who say "I have a borehole/well point, so I'm ok!" Um...No!

I think many people suffer from the complex that they can get away with unscrupulous watering methods because everyone else will be watching their usage...thats just wrong thinking! Everyone should be doing what they can...I know I need to do more. 

So here are 10 things we already do (10th point in progress) that can help you if you are uncertain what to do to save a bit of water. 

1. Collect water from your shower in buckets and use this water on your non-edible plants. 

2. Buy plastic containers which fit into your washing basin and do all your rinsing catching the rinse water in this container which you can then put onto potted plants. Do the same when rinsing vegetables - save the water and give it back to the garden. I do assume with this that you are using natural soaps...

Basin within a basin
3. Make sure the last bits of water in water bottles from school; gym or outings are emptied into plants not down the drain. This also goes for dog water bowls – but choose non-edible plants for this water.

4. Mulch with a layer of compost then a layer of wood chip, newspaper (although this blows around and is perhaps better under the compost), straw or well rotted manure. Do not clear up leaves that fall – use them as mulch.

5. Water deeply less often.

6. Do not use a sprinkler especially on windy days. We installed drip irrigation but now need to connect it to the borehole system...when we have the for now its buckets or bust.

7. Water first thing in the morning or last thing after the days heat. With the exception of squashes which tend to get powdery mildew if the soil is wet at night.

8. Collect tea in the kitchen from your left over bits in your pot and use that on all acid loving plants like berries, hydrangeas and camellias.

9. When planting new seedlings, keep the ground wet until they have germinated and then slowly taper off watering unless they are wilting. This forces the roots to go deep and you will eventually not need to water more than once a week if you have mulched.

Despite being watered once a week these heirloom tomatoes are doing very well.

10. If you have the financial ability, plan to install water tanks on your downpipes during the next rainy season. If you can’t, a cheaper alternative is what my mom did during their drought a few years ago which was to use big black bins with lids, cut out the lid for the downpipe to fit into, cut out a circle for a tap to fit on the bottom and put it on bricks under the downpipes. She was able to even collect dew this way for her garden.

I hope this gets you kick started - please feel free to add any more ideas in the comment section.