Many of us are trying to be environmentally conscious these days and water conservation is part of that. If you are like me and have a number of plants to water, there are several ways you can accomplish that task while saving water at the same time.
One of the most obvious ways to conserve is to collect rainwater. This can be done using rain barrels or any container large enough to hold a significant amount of water. The setup can be elaborate or as simple as large trash cans. Large plastic drums are sometimes available for free from fast food restaurants, janitorial supply companies, schools, or other sources. Make sure they are cleaned well before using them for storing water.
A rain garden is a planted area that allows water from roof runoff to be absorbed into the ground to water surrounding plants. Gravel drain fields can be utilized at the base of downspouts to spread and direct the runoff from a roof to nearby rain gardens.
Using a moisture meter can help determine when your houseplants or potted plants really need more moisture and thus help avoid excessive watering and plant loss.
Use mulch or top-dress your potted plants. Potted succulents often benefit by being top-dressed with pea gravel or crushed rock, and if you use are using a moisture meter you can be certain when it’s time to water them. A few of the numerous potted plants that can benefit from being top-dressed with mulch or compost include: amaryllis, podocarpus, gardenia, clivia, spider lily, lantana, sansevieria, oleander, hoya and brunfelsia.
Make a reservoir for your plants and let them absorb water as needed. Fill a two-liter plastic bottle with water and place a small piece of sponge just slightly larger than the bottle opening into the neck. Bury the neck of the bottle into the soil near the plant stem. The sponge will help dispense water slowly over a period of time. You can also cut the bottom off the bottle to allow it to be refilled and left in place indefinitely.
If you’ve always wanted a pond or water garden, think smaller. They can be as small as a cup, pot, bucket or half whiskey barrel. Anything that holds water can become a water garden.
There are some less obvious ways to water plants that you may not have thought about. When you boil or steam vegetables, don’t pour the water down the drain. Save the cooled liquid and use it to water potted plants. Many plants will respond well to the added nutrients. Fruit and vegetable peels can also be put into the water and soaked for about eight hours to add additional nutrients. Strain out the peelings and toss them into the compost pile.
Cooled leftover coffee and tea can be used either diluted or undiluted to water plants. And when changing your fish tank water, use the old water on your plants. That can be an economical way to fertilize them as well.
C. Tee Menser -I have a Master’s Degree and an avid interest in behavioral science, gardening, wildlife conservation and restoration, urban farming, women’s issues and education.