Photo (cc) by DanaK~WaterPenny
A vegetable garden can take a bite out of a hefty grocery bill. But a garden isn’t free. Seasoned gardeners know that one of the things that can quickly soak up those grocery savings is a big water bill.
Here are five super simple tips to help you save on water for your garden so you can put more green in your pocket (and more leafy greens on your plate):
- Get a soaker hose: Using drip irrigation or soaker hoses is a great way to direct water to plant roots and reduce evaporation. The Tennessean’s “Ms. Cheap” writes: “This slow watering of this simple but effective hose with holes can save you lots on your water bill and seems to be the best way to achieve deep watering, which is preferred over more frequent surface watering.”
- Water in the morning: According to Anne Gibson of TheMicroGardener.com, the optimal watering time for a garden is in the early morning, when temperatures are cooler, winds are lower and there is less evaporation. “Avoid evening watering, especially on the foliage as night-time temperatures are often inadequate to dry the moisture on the leaves, which can encourage some fungal pathogens to establish,” Gibson writes.
- Mulch: Rodale’s Organic Life recommends using mulch to lock in soil moisture and save on your water bill. It also helps keep weeds at bay, so it’s a win-win.
- Harvest and recycle water: Using rainwater (it’s free!) and household water from cooking to water your garden is super easy and relatively cheap, depending on how you decide you want to “harvest” and reuse the water. To collect rainwater, you could invest in a rain barrel or a water harvesting system (or just use a bucket) to collect rainwater that you can use for your plants. Next time you steam or boil veggies — or even pasta — save the water for your garden instead of dumping it down the drain. “[Vegetable water] is full of nutrients and, when cooled, makes a free fertilizer for watering your plants,” Gibson says.
- Don’t overwater! Overwatering not only runs up your water bill, but it’s also a common culprit in garden failures. It’s a good idea to invest in a shutoff timer for your house or sprinkler so you don’t inadvertently leave the water on. Gibson says overwatering also leaches good nutrients from the soil and causes loss of oxygen in the soil pore spaces, which could increase your plants’ likelihood of getting root rot. It also wastes a valuable resource – water.
Check out “Shrink Your Grocery Budget by Growing Your Own Food.”
Are you a gardener? Do you have any water saving tips to share or other gardening advice? Share below or on our Facebook page.