Gardening Articles for week ending 16th DECEMBER 2017


The unusual dry times so early in the season has caught a lot of gardeners out.

The weather over the last 9 months has being very unusual to say the least. A very wet winter and into spring but lack of direct sunlight due to too many cloudy days or hazy days trapping UV heat but wrong radiation for plants to use for energy.

Then suddenly dry air, low humidity and moisture sucked away so fast that every thing was dehydrating.

Now we have drought conditions in November/December which would be more common for February/March. At least at the normal times we can look forward to the autumn rains and dew.

Many areas could currently be without any significant rain for a few months or a great chance of a deluge of rain causing flooding as water cant be absorbed into the parched soil. 

We waste a lot of water from our washing machines, baths, showers and sinks which is used water referred to as Grey water. 

Greywater may contain traces of dirt, food, grease, hair, and certain household cleaning products. 

While greywater may look “dirty,” it is a safe and even beneficial source of irrigation water in a yard. Keep in mind that if greywater is released into rivers, lakes, or estuaries, its nutrients become pollutants, but to plants, they are valuable fertilizer. 

Aside from the obvious benefits of saving water (and money on your water bill), reusing your greywater keeps it out of the sewer or septic system, thereby reducing the chance that it will pollute local water bodies. 

Reusing greywater for irrigation reconnects urban residents and our backyard gardens to the natural water cycle.

The easiest way to use greywater is to pipe it directly outside and use it to water ornamental plants or fruit trees. 

Greywater can also be used to irrigate vegetable plants as long as it doesn’t touch edible parts of the plants. In any greywater system, it is essential to use “plant friendly” products, those without salts, boron, or chlorine bleach. 

The build-up of salts and boron in the soil can damage plants. 

Water from our washing machine is easy to collect as it is pumped out into the washing sink or into a pipe to the sewage system. 

You can either put a plug in the sink to collect the pumped out water or into say 20 litre Jerry cans. (Which if you are in Palmerston North or nearby phone me I have plenty of used ones to give away)

A big word of warning on either of these; Do Not Leave Unattended your washing machine when pumping out or you will likely regret it with a big mop up job.

If you need to leave the wash house turn off your washing machine.

Bath water or showers above baths are also easy to collect by just plugging the plug hole to collect the water and bucket it out.

Grey water should never be stored and used within 24 hours if not before.

Another bit from this web site.. https://greywateraction.org/greywater-reuse/

Greywater is different from fresh water and requires different guidelines for it to be reused.

  1. Don’t store greywater (more than 24 hours). If you store greywater the nutrients in it will start to break down, creating bad odors.

  2. Minimize contact with greywater. Greywater could potentially contain a pathogen if an infected person’s feces got into the water, so your system should be designed for the water to soak into the ground and not be available for people or animals to drink.

  3. Infiltrate greywater into the ground, don’t allow it to pool up or run off (knowing how well water drains into your soil (or the soil percolation rate of your soil) will help with proper design. Pooling greywater can provide  mosquito breeding grounds, as well as a place for human contact with greywater.

  4. Keep your system as simple as possible, avoid pumps, avoid filters that need upkeep. Simple systems last longer, require less maintenance, require less energy and cost less money.
  5. Install a 3-way valve for easy switching between the greywater system and the sewer/septic.

  6. Match the amount of greywater your plants will receive with their irrigation needs.


Another method is where your grey water comes out of pipes into the sump, you maybe able to place a elbow pipe over the straight outlet pipe to direct the water upwards into another short pipe to lift the water to a level over the rim of the sump. 

Another elbow pipe and you have the water heading away from the sump. Now a combination of pipe, reducer and garden hose can direct the grey water to ornamentals such as roses, fruit trees and vegetable gardens.

With vegetable gardens you need to make a trench between the rows of vegetable plants so the grey water can be directed into the trench and thus to the root zones of your vegetables.

In days gone by we always planted out vegetables in rows and had a trench between rows. 

This was use to water the plants in summer with either tap water or grey water.

The foliage of the plants growing over the trench would help keep the moisture in the trenches from evaporating in sunlight or wind.

Grey water applications can help keep some moisture in the soil and prevent soil building up surface tensions which makes water shed off the area applied.

The possibility of soaps in the greywater will greatly enhance this aspect.

That means when you water or it rains the water will go where it does the most good, into the root zone of your plants.

This is very important as a heavy rainfall during dry times means rain cant get into the soil instead it causes flooding.

While allowed to water you should only use a hand held watering wand with adjustable nozzle to make a nice wetting pattern. Once an area has allowed water to penetrate then a light watering daily or at the worst every second day will maintain a moisture growing medium.

Dry times is time to sacrifice your lawn as grasses will brown off but not die unless the soil becomes so dry and the roots bake. You will have seen in summer playing fields that are totally brown with the exception maybe of some hardy weeds. They look dead but it does not take much rain to bring them back to green. 

Some insects love dry times such as spider mites which can bred at very high rates. When seen spray them with Liquid Sulphur it cleans them up quickly.


Problems ring me at 0800 466464 (Palmerston North 3570606)
Email wallyjr@gardenews.co.nz
Phone 0800 466464
Garden Pages and News at www.gardenews.co.nz

Website https://www.0800466464.co.nz/

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