Jane's Delicious Garden
“To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.”
As organic gardeners we aim to minimise and replenish the resources our gardens consume. And one of the most important resources in our climate is water. In the past, wars were fought over salt and graphite. Currently, wars are being fought over oil. In the very near future, wars will be fought over water. It is time to start thinking about our water supply and how we can save, harvest and recycle as much as we can. In our vegetable gardens there are many ways of making every drop count.
Two years ago I had JoJo tanks installed to harvest rainwater from my roof: 1mm of rain falling on one square meter of roof will supply 1 litre of water. I have a large roof and all those litres which were washing away down the storm water drain, are now saved into my tanks and I can use them to water the garden or wash the car. In summer, when the tanks start overflowing from all the rain, I empty them into my natural swimming pond. There is a tap installed to the side of the tanks and when opened it turns on the pressure activated pump. So all my regular hose and tap fittings and irrigation can be used.
I had always seen JoJo tanks as rather ugly, garishly coloured things, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a range of colours and shapes to choose from and the sandstone slimline ones look quite elegant in our driveway. The creeper from the house is winding its way around one of them and in a couple of years will probably have covered them completely - a truly green tank!
I have also installed a grey water system. The water from the en suite basin, shower and bath are stored in a JoJo tank. One problem that can occur with grey water - if it sits for longer than twelve hours it can become increasingly stinky. This is because anaerobic bacteria move in and start feeding on all the yummy gunk in the water. I knew I wouldn't be watering my garden every twelve hours, plus, I was planning to use this water for my vegetable garden. So I needed to make sure I wasn't going to make us all sick in the process! You have to be careful when using grey water on edibles, as harmful bacteria and pathogens can be carried onto the leaves.
The first step is a filter that removes fluff, hair and debris. We then installed an ozoneater to clean the water. However, this required a small electric pump to circulate the ozone. This was a bit noisy and I was concerned that I was using electricity to save water. So we removed the ozoneater and its pump and tried beneficial bacteria instead. And this works perfectly. A small submersible pump aerates the water (similar to a fish tank) and once a week we add a teaspoon of powdered beneficial organisms, which clean the water so it is healthy and doesn't smell. As an additional precaution, we installed an irrigation system in the vegetable beds, using soaker hoses. The water soaks into the ground and doesn't splash on the leaves. Beneficial organisms in the soil and the roots of the plants provide a final filter.
The irrigation system also operates off a pressure activated pump. We had to trouble shoot this because when we first installed the soaker hose, we were quite conservative about spacing and lengths used. However, because the pump was pressure operated, it needed more soaker hose and therefore more pressure to get it to its optimum functioning. Something to keep in my mind if you are installing one of these systems in a small garden.
These investments will very quickly pay for themselves as I use less municipal water and am less reliant on it. It is something we should all be putting on our “to do” lists.
For more info:
Planning the supports
Prepping the area
The tanks have to be level so a smooth support is created.
For more photos click on the thumbnails below the text.