(By Ithel McKenna)
When I worked in Africa I used to marvel at how much time and energy women and children had to spend every day collecting water. It was amazing to watch what heavy loads they carried on their heads. The children in the school always arrived clean and spotless. How did they do this when water was so precious? One of the perks for the young man who worked for us was that he and his family could turn on a tap and get water whenever they wanted it
When there is a power cut or an interruption to supply, you suddenly realise how much water you use every day. As gardeners in Ireland most of us have not had to think very profoundly about how much water we use. All that is about to change. We have started to agonise over the cost of leaving the tap on while we wash our teeth. We are wondering how quickly we can have a shower. We puzzle over how many bricks we should put in the toilet cistern.
(Rockery plants don’t need much water at all, once established!)
As gardeners there are so many things we can do to continue gardening in a cost effective and environmentally friendly way. (Check out our workshop on May 31st for great ideas on reducing waste and water!)
- Make as much compost as possible. This organic material, when it is dug into the soil, helps to hold moisture so that plants need far less watering. The leaves from the trees in Autumn are brown gold which can also add organic material to the soil and save water
- Mulch your plants with garden compost, grass clippings, bark or composted bark. This seals in the moisture and prevents it evaporating into the air
- Attach a water butt to as many down pipes as possible and harvest the free water available quite frequently in Ireland
- Plants don’t need clean, purified water. They are quite happy with grey water. So use the water from washing the potatoes on planted pots at the kitchen door
- Some plants need very little water. Some need a lot. Choose the right plants for the right place and watering will not be necessary once they are established.