Saving Water For Gardening
I live in an area where from time to time there are drought conditions, or just dry weather. Mixed with my habits of being frugal, I've searched over time to find ways to save money and as well as how to conserve and reserve for times when the weather is dry.
Sure, we can always watch the news, or research the internet of what the predictions are. Or if we look for signs outside that hint of dry weather to come... Be it temperature dropping, humidity, or even those cloudless days where birds eagerly chirp in the early morning. It is always best to be prepared for the future, as water is a major necessity for gardening. Of course, plants cannot survive very well without water... Unless you have a cactus farm! (Even then, they do need water from time to time.)
One can never know the future for sure, as weather is always changing. When the environment outside is deprived of moisture, we end up experiencing a more drier weather. This may lead up to a week or so of little to no rain. When this situation occurs over a prolonged period of time, droughts begin to occur, and resources become strained, as well as the bill that we receive and have to pay, for using up water.
Listed below, I have provided a few ideas that you can do to not only save water for the summer seasons, dry weather, or droughts, but methods you could do that could save you money in the long run.
(And, even if you aren't seeing results of saving money right away, over time it actually does add up.)
(Warning: Depending on where you live, there is the possibility that you can make a rain barrel. But sadly, not all locations are okay with people owning a rain barrel on their property, or rented property. Before you choose this as an idea, you may want to check with your city, town, village, or where ever you live, as well as your landlord (if you are renting), before proceeding, as you don't want to end up with a violation and/or a fine.)
Rain barrels are one of the most common method that people use to collect and reserve rain water. They collect water in a container, and are able to disperse it by either a faucet, or a pump.
And so, basically explaining...
The lid of a rain barrel has a an intake hole, that is covered with a screen, so as to prevent leaves, large items, some insects, or other things, from getting inside of your container. The container itself is usually a barrel of some sort, usually a 55 gallon plastic container, and it's placed right under your down spout, on a stand. The stand is better than leaving the container to sit on the ground, as you need to create water pressure when you go to take water for whatever you may need.
By using a rain barrel, or a few rain barrels, you are able to save water during each rainfall.
Although, you may want to be careful when going this route, as the barrels collect rain from the runoff your roof gives, and it could contain pollutants be it from your roof and the roofing materials, or even bacteria from bird feces, or any animal that has access to your roof, as well as any airborne contaminants. It's okay to use this water on plants you are not harvesting from, but if you plan to use it on plants that will provide a harvest, you may want to add about a half of a cup of bleach, and let it sit for at least 24 hours, so as to let the chlorine dissipate.
Another situation you may have to deal with, with rain barrels, is about the water sitting for an extended period of time, and preventing algae from growing. Some people do this with fish, and others don't worry about algae growth because their container is mostly airtight.
One of the best methods for upkeep on rain barrels just may be having a spare rain barrel sitting aside, clean and dry, and alternate them by letting one drain all of it's water, and replacing it with a dry clean one, so you can clean the used one and prepare it for new use.
There are various different methods as to maintain rain barrels. What may work for some, may not always work for others.
Mulch and Hay
Mulch, pieces of wood chips, or leaves, sometimes colored, are an option to add to your garden, and can add in some appeal, as well. Although this isn't one of the best water saving ways, it is an option.
The mulch acts as to protect the soil, and will dry out before the soil dries out. Some types of mulch can ward off some insects. And sometimes mulch can help prevent weeds from growing. Although, it really isn't a sure thing, as it depends on other factors, such as seasons where plants are seeding in high amounts, or how bad of a drought it may be, etc...
Hay also acts as a protector for the soil, keeping moisture in while letting plants grow upwards. But unlike mulch, it doesn't retain water too well. And when it does, it can give off a mushy, over-watered feel.
Raised Gardens and Hanging Gardens
If you create a table that is raised off of the ground, you have less soil to water. You can do this by making a table for pots to sit on, or a giant box that holds in the soil and water well. There are various ways to do a raised garden, and the ideas can seem pretty endless. As long as you leave room for roots to grow, this idea is not really impossible.
It's basically just as simple as keeping a container of your choice, a select amount of soil, plants, and a table or table-like structure. Just make sure it's stable, so you don't encounter any disasters.
Or you can buy, or create, a hanging garden by hanging your plants in a basket, or other hanging container that does not leak all over. (In the case that it does, you can always catch the water that drips out, and reuse it elsewhere.) You can hang them among archways, or hooks, or anywhere you can find that you can hang something of such a size. As long as you can imagine, the ideas of where you can hang them are endless!
Another idea of a raised garden is taking a large PVC pipe, cutting holes out of it, filling it with dirt and plants that hang outwards (above ground) when harvesting. You can cap the ends, leaving it either upright and in a base, or sideways.
(Just definitely try not to put plants in there that need uprooting. Like potatoes. Because it wouldn't be too fun, or easy, trying to get them out...)
The perks of a raised garden, and a hanging garden, depending on how you create them or plant them, they can be brought indoors, and possibly continue harvesting inside. Just keep in mind that this is not a guaranteed situation.
This isn't the best idea during a drought, but it could help a tad bit.
Watering plants at, or after, noon is never a good idea, as the sun is at it's highest. You can end up burning your plants this way, and using water for nothing. Evaporation tends to be at the greatest between noon and about 6pm, when the sun begins to set. It is also a time during the day when the temperature remains at it's highest. It is never a good idea to water your plants during that time.
You can always reuse water from your kitchen in a few different ways. You can keep a bucket aside, just for this purpose.
With this bucket, you can fill it with a bit of water, and wash off vegetables in it. Or, you can dump the water from when you make pasta, boil eggs, or potatoes, in to this bucket. Just make sure to let the water cool down a little bit first. You don't need to risk burns from splashed water, or even cracking the bucket from the water being so hot.
Plan Your Plants
Believe it or not, how you plant your plants can actually determine how much water you use. This also goes for plants that need a lot of water to thrive, like tomatoes, watermelons, or pumpkins. Or plants that grow to an excessive size, like a tree, bushes, or plants that grow in to a size close to that of a bush.
When planning your plants, keep the plants that require a lot of water in a group. Scattering them is a bad idea, as the plants that require a lot of water can either take water needed from other plants, or cause other plants to be over-watered, and kill them off.
Either way, this will either cause that section of plants to use more water than needed, or a different watering schedule that leads you watering often and using a lot, even if little is used during those times.
Other methods of saving water are a bit more costly, but effective, and tedious to install. Some may require professional installation. And, this may be the better option. It's never a bad idea to invest in ways to help you with watering your plants.
And If you find that you would like one of these methods, but are unable to do so, or are unable to complete it, asking someone for some help is never a bad idea. Working with someone to help with your gardening is always a fun option, as you never know what ideas you may be able to bounce back and forth, discovering new ideas, methods, of saving water and gardening. The possibilities are really endless!