local food blog

Posts tagged “water

5 Ways to Collect Water for Your Garden – Planet Green


I am always looking for creative ways to water my garden with out wasting valuable drinking water, this article has some great tips!

article from http://planetgreen.discovery.com/home-garden/5-ways-to-collect-water-for-your-garden.html

how to conserve water in the garden

fireballsedai/Flickr Creative Commons

Conserving water is an important aspect of growing a "green" garden. The fewer resources we have to use, the better. And since water is an important part of most gardens (and also the most egregiously wasted — it drives me crazy to watch people put their sprinklers on and let the water all run down their driveway!) it’s a good idea to try to find alternative ways of watering than solely depending on tap water. Here are five that I’ve used for my own garden.

1. Rain Barrel
This is kind of a no-brainer, but I know that many people don’t have them because ready-made rain barrels can be pretty pricey. Luckily, there are very good instructions online for making your own, inexpensively:

2. Buckets Under Downspouts and Eaves
This is a good option for those who don’t want to go all out with a rain barrel, or who, for one reason or another, can’t have one where they live. If you’re an apartment dweller with a balcony or patio — you can use this tip, too. Simply set five gallon buckets or whichever watering cans you have under your downspouts, at the edges of roof eaves or overhangs, or just out in the open to collect the rain water. You won’t get as much as you would with a rain barrel, but some is better than none, right?

3. Kid-Size Swimming Pool
If you have kids and find yourself filling up a little pool for them to splash around in during hot weather, don’t just let that water flow out onto the lawn when you empty the pool! Use buckets or watering cans to get the water out, and use the water for your garden instead. Even if you don’t have kids, a small kid’s pool is another excellent way to capture rainwater as described in #2, above.

4. Buckets in the Shower
One of the easiest ways to capture water that would otherwise be wasted is to take a shower with a bucket or two. You’ll be surprised by how quickly the buckets fill (even if you do take short showers) and you can use the water for your houseplants or garden.

5. Cooking Water
If you’ve boiled a bunch of vegetables or pasta, don’t just pour that water down the drain when you’re done with it! Let it cool completely, then use it to water plants in your garden. It’s perfectly safe for them, and actually contains a bit of nutrition for your plants, especially if you’ve boiled vegetables.

These are just a few ways to gather otherwise "wasted" water and put it to use in your garden instead.


Saving Water, the (Really) Old-Fashioned Way

This is an article that I found to be inspiring, hope you enjoy it.

OnTheCommons.org / By Adam Davidson-Harden and Jay Walljasper

Drawing on indigenous Indian knowledge of geology, hydrology and ecology, Rajendra Singh helped to save a watershed.

Rajendra Singh, founder of Tarun Bharat Sangh, (TBS, or Young India Association), always wanted to be a farmer. Bowing to family pressure, he studied to be a doctor of traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine and after school moved to the Alwyn district in the arid state of Rajasthan. Singh was not simply practicing medicine, he wanted to test some ideas about healing ecosystems.

The local Arvari River had dried up during the 1940s when the surrounding hills were stripped of trees. It flowed only during the monsoon season. Since that time most people fled local villages to seek a livelihood elsewhere. When Singh arrived in 1985, he noticed that only the oldest and poorest people were left in the area.

Drawing on indigenous Indian knowledge of geology, hydrology and ecology, he began building tiny dams with johads (reservoirs) on streams flowing to the river in the hopes of reviving the natural water flow of both surface and underground water in the region. The local elders chuckled as they watched him do backbreaking labor with very little results for two years. Only then, he remembers with a chuckle, did they decide he was sincere in trying to help them and began offering tips on the right spots to place dams and johads.

It worked. The water captured in the johads during monsoon season slowly rejuvenated vegetation, which helped refill the aquifers (used for local drinking water) and restore the water retaining capacity of the hillsides.

The Arvari River came back to life and now runs all year as do four other once-dry rivers in the region. Groundwater levels have risen by an estimated 20 feet, and crucial forest cover, which helps to maintain the water-retaining capacity of the soil, has increased by 33 percent. People who abandoned the district are now moving back to farm and start businesses, Singh says.

In addition, The Young India Association challenged plans to privatize and deplete freshwater resources. In the Alwar area, where Singh began his work, activsts have prevented 40 water-intensive industrial companies (including bottled water and soft drink makers) from setting up factories. Villagers are creating their own “river parliaments” to sustain the water commons; each is governed by two leaders�“one who is responsible to the community, and one who is responsible solely to the water and nature.

“Water is a very emotional, spiritual thing,” Singh explains, noting that the once-lost river is now once again sacred to local people. He says that many of the older residents now ask that when they die that their ashes be sprinkled into the Arvari rather than the Ganges.

Outdoor peeing could activate composting revolution

You won’t catch me trying this one at my place, for starters the compost bin is way to high, and my neighbours will begin to wonder if I lost my marbles. I found this article at http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk, while searching for methods to break my own compost down faster, needless to say I am still searching for a good method!!

Gardeners at one National Trust property are urging the country to join them in peeing outdoors to help UK gardens grow greener.

A three metre long ‘pee bale’ has been installed within the walled gardens of the National Trust’s Wimpole Hall in Cambridgeshire.

Head Gardener, Philip Whaites, is encouraging his male colleagues to relieve themselves onto the straw bale when the call of nature occurs.

This helps activate the composting process on the estate’s compost heap – producing a free supply of compost material – and also cuts down on the estate’s water use.

‘For eight weeks now, male members of our garden and estate teams have been using the outdoor straw bale when nature calls, which all goes towards our eco-friendly composting system here at Wimpole,’ Philip explained.

‘The pee bale is excellent matter to add to our compost heap to stimulate the composting process; and with over 400 acres of gardens and parkland to utilise compost, we need all the help we can get.

Of course we’re very careful to make sure the pee bale is only in use out of visitor hours, as we don’t want to scare the public. And it doesn’t smell.

There are obvious logistical benefits to limiting it to male members of the team, but also male pee is preferable to women’s, as the male stuff is apparently less acidic.’

By the end of the year, it’s calculated that the ten men from the seventy strong garden and estates team will make over 1,000 individual trips to the pee bale, contributing towards the compost for the estate.

What’s more, the estate will have saved up to 30 per cent of its daily water use by not having to flush the loo so many times.

Rosemary Hooper, Wimpole estate’s in-house Master Composter, provides composting advice to visitors to help them compost whatever the size of their garden or outdoor space.

Rosemary said: ‘Most people can compost in some way in their own gardens.

Peeing on a compost heap activates the composting process and helps to produce a ready supply of lovely organic matter to add back to the garden.With the ready supply of fallen leaves at this time of year, it’s a great time to get composting. Adding a little pee just helps get it all going; it’s totally safe and a bit of fun too.’

Tamzin Phillips, the National Trust’s Compost Doctor, said: ‘An average flush of the toilet can use anything from four and a half to nine litres of water each time, but what people may not realise is that this water is treated to the same standard as drinking water and shouldn’t be wasted.

What’s so great about the pee bale is that it’s using a natural solution to help the garden whilst saving flushing the loo for only when it’s really necessary.’

The pee bale is part of the garden composting ‘zone’ on the Wimpole estate, where the gardening team has been showcasing its mass composting facilities and increasing visitor awareness of the importance of composting waste.

Other more unusual composting facilities on the estate include a ‘dagging’ tank into which the rear end trimmings from the fleeces from estate’s sheep are stirred up on a regular basis to produce a liquid feed.

After a few weeks of stirring, the feed is used to nourish Wimpole’s famous squash plants, tomatoes and even roses. A comfrey bed established nearby means the leaves can be added to the heap and stirred into the dagging tank, which, along with the fermented straw from the pee bale is added to Wimpole’s rich and healthy compost.

Philip added:’Whilst the use of outdoor bale may not be standard practice amongst all my National Trust gardening colleagues, here at Wimpole we’re taking inspiration from historic methods of making compost which aside of being part of our heritage, also have minimum impact on the environment.”

You don’t have to live near Wimpole Hall to see behind the scenes on how simple, environmentally friendly composting works; National Trust experts share their hints and tips on best composting practice, including a short and easy to follow film.

In the second of a series of six videos featuring National Trust gardeners sharing their secrets, head gardener Richard Todd from Anglesey Abbey shows how to make your own low-cost compost bin from scrap pallets, how to get the right mix of greens and browns in your compost and gives advice on how to make best use of your home made compost in the garden.

Future videos offering priceless advice include composting, saving water, growing your own food, organic gardening and how to look after wildlife in the garden; all featuring National Trust experts in each area, passing on years of knowledge in a simple, easy to follow way. These videos will be on the website over the next few months.


Concord, MA to be First U.S. Town to Ban Bottled Water

Article that I found interesting

by Jerry James Stone, San Francisco, CA


Last week residents of Concord, Massachusetts voted to ban the sale of all bottled water by next January, making it the first U.S. town to take such action.

The effort was lead by Jean Hill, an 82-year old activist, who lobbied neighbours and officials alike on the consequences of plastic bottles filling landfills and polluting local waters. "All these discarded bottles are damaging our planet, causing clumps of garbage in the oceans that hurt fish, and are creating more pollution on our streets,” says Hil. "This is a great achievement to be the first in the country to do this. This is about addressing an injustice.”
Of course, the $10 billion industry is less than thrilled with the news and has even threatened a legal challenge. They argue that singling out bottled water is unfair when "thousands of food, medicinal, beauty and cleaning products packaged in plastic." But this isn’t the first time bottled water has been targeted.

More than 100 towns across the United States already prohibit spending city dollars on the product.

bottledwaterinfo.pngClick to here to see the full info graphic.

"We obviously don’t think highly of the vote in Concord,” said Joe Doss, president of the International Bottled Water Association, a trade association that represents bottlers, suppliers, and distributors. "Any efforts to discourage consumers from drinking water, whether tap water or bottled water, is not in the best interests of consumers. Bottled water is a very healthy, safe, convenient product that consumers use to stay hydrated.”

But bottled water is hardly safe. As the NRDC reports, water stored in plastic bottles for 10 weeks showed signs of phthalate-leaching. Phthalates block testosterone and other hormones! And keep in mind, while phthalates in tap water are regulated, no such regulations exist at all for bottled water. And as the info graphic above points out, bottled water costs 10,000 times more than tap water and 40-percent of it comes straight from the tap.

The Concord ordinance is part of a state-wide effort for a new bottle law. The state’s 29-year-old law only allows consumers to redeem bottles and cans from soda and beer. Bottles from non-carbonated water, iced tea, juices or energy drinks–which account for one-third of all beverages sold in Massachusetts–are not redeemable. The new law would raise the redemption fee to 10 cents and cover a larger variety of beverage bottles.