If you are anything like us, and your plants are your babies, you are probably running around collecting every rain drop in buckets, sharing your precious one minute showers with your plants and moving them into the shadiest spots you can find to keep them alive during the drought in the Cape.
We have a few tips and tricks to help you to save your plants from shrivelling up and keep them lush and green while we wait for the rains to come.
USING GREY-WATER TO WATER YOUR PLANTS
Although it is tempting to use your every drop of your grey-water for your plants, you need to be very specific about which grey water you choose to use. Any water that has detergents and chemicals in it will not be great for your plants, and may kill them. Here are some tips to collecting the right grey-water for your plants.
Rinsing your Hands
Pour a little water into the basin with the plug in, you can use this multiple times to rinse your hands without using soap, for instance after you have been chopping veggies for dinner, or potting up plants. We alternate popping our smaller pots into the basin so that the roots can soak up water from the bottom. Alternatively, you can put a plastic container in the basin and use that for rinsing your hands in and at the end of the day, pour that water into one of your bigger pot plants or straight into the garden.
Rinsing the Dishes
It is best not to use the water that you wash your dishes in for watering your plants as it is full of oils and old food particles which could cause disease. Pour some clean water into a plastic container next to your kitchen sink and use that for rinsing. Make sure that most of the soap is off the dishes before you dunk them in the rinse container, and you will be able to use this water for your plants. Be sure to use this water on your woodier and hardier plants such as your ficuses or your drought-tolerant succulents.
It is helpful to have two separate buckets for collection shower water. The one you can use to shower over and collect soapy water for flushing the loo, and the other you can use when you turn the shower on and are waiting for the water to warm up. Make sure to put your warm up water bucket directly under the flow of the shower to collect as much water as possible - you can even stand holding it up close to the shower head to try catch every drop. Be sure to take this bucket out of the shower once the water is warm and you are about to wash, to avoid getting any soap or shampoo in your clean water.
How to Wisely Use the Water you Have Collected to Water My Plants
One of the best practices we have applied is placing as many pot plants as possible in the bath, putting the plug in firmly and watering in there. We transfer the water from our buckets into a small watering can with a long, direct spout and water each plant individually as close to the stem as possible. Any water that runs out the bottom of the pot will stay in the bath and be soaked up by the roots. You can rotate the plants you have in the bath every three or four days, giving them each enough time to soak up the water. Be cautious not to let them sit in a pool of water as this may cause root rot. If you don't have a bath, you can use a basin, or a bucket to get the same effect. If you are poring water straight into your pots, be sure that they have a drip tray or even a little side plate under them so that any excess water that runs out the bottom of the pot can be reabsorbed by the roots, or you can tip over into another pot.