Archive for the ‘Greywater’ Category

End of season summary

March 21, 2013

It’s the equinox and autumn is here, thank God! Shorter days and longer nights. Less heat and more coolth. I am thankful, even though it means the spring/summer growing season with its wonderful gluts of tomatoes, beans, cukes and the rest, is over.

Time for a roundup summary of what worked, what went wrong and what might be needed in future.

Major concern is weather. I haven’t been overly worried about climate change, thinking I’d be pushing up daisies well before things got hairy, but it seems to be progressing faster than anyone thought. We’ve just had a very dry summer with only 120 mm of rain and a dry spring before that. Average for Melbourne over the three summer months is 150 mm. Add in periods of extended heat with no cool breaks and all the plants were stressed way beyond their comfort zone. Of course, it may be just another el Nino year and the wetter la Nina years will be back. But climate change may well put its own cycles atop these two and we really don’t know how that will play out. We’re playing russian roulette with a system we don’t fully understand and I don’t think Homo sapiens is going to come out on top, if at all.

I had trouble keeping water up to the food forest, particularly the fruit trees. As a result fruit was small and I let the parrots have most of it. The individual swales I dug behind each fruit tree were a godsend. I just filled them with water once a week—from the tank at first and then from the mains when the tank got low—and that helped the trees to just hang on. Swales are great, but no good without rain to fill them. Because that part of the garden is on a slope and the soil sets like concrete in summer, it’s no good putting on a sprinkler—the water just runs off rather than in. Even though I’ve mulched and mulched, the soil structure hasn’t improved for more than a few inches in depth. I long to see it deep and friable, full of life and able to absorb more water. I suspect the shallow root systems it forces on the plants are a major part of the problem.

Annual veggies in wicking boxes were fine, although they had to be watered every second day in 30-plus temperatures. Deeper wicking boxes would have helped. Those not in wicking boxes had to be watered every day. Temperatures in the high 30’s (celsius) really rip the water out of plants and the leaves curl and brown.

Redcurrant with burnt leaf edges in the food forest:

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Tomatoes bore well and I picked over 30 kg, but by late February most had yellowing, shrivelled leaves, even those in wicking boxes and tubs. I think it was a tomato thing (probably late blight), because other plants sharing the same tubs or box were perfectly healthy, lettuce and basil, for example.

Plants in the greywater line were fine, except redcurrant here too, which browned at the leaf margins as it did in the food forest. This probably indicates that it needs more shade. Tamarillo and feijoa right next to the redcurrants were fine. That’s an amazing result for tamarillo with its dinner plate-sized leaves. They’re very leathery, maybe that helped.

Tamarillo in the greywater line:

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Plans for next summer:

Wicking boxes:
*Will be fine, just need plenty of nutrients, aka chook manure compost applied regularly, but will be better with shade on really scorching days.
*Probably need more of them and close to the house (permaculture zone 1).

Annual veggies in wire rings in the food forest:
*Being built-up beds means they dry out more quickly, so maybe it’s pointless to grow in these areas in summer anyway, if I can’t keep the water up to them.
*Certainly more organic matter is needed in them, so will add as much as I can get.
*Might be more sensible to keep them for winter crops only.
*In any case shade is a virtue, so the plan is to erect polypipe structures over them to hold shadecloth in summer.

Fruit trees:
*Keep them pruned small so they can be easily netted against parrots and possums.
*Deepen individual swales behind each tree.
*Dig swales where there still aren’t any (new plantings).

Hugelkultur bed:
*Surprisingly, it went very well. The underlying bed of sticks is nowhere near broken down, yet pumpkins grew well. Zucchinis weren’t so good, but that was more due to lack of flowering or female flowers aborting before they even opened. Maybe lack of nutrients was a problem there (?potassium).
*Plan is to build more hugelkultur beds and to keep building up the first one with compost and chook manure. They’re a much more sensible way to use up excess branches, sticks and leaves, rather than burning them.

Pumpkins in the hugelkultur bed:

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The pumpkin harvest. The Butternuts are embarrassingly small; the Red Kuri are small to average and the Blue Ballet I know nothing about. It was my first time growing them:

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This Butternut that came up by itself in a wicking tub is going to be better:

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Remnant bush:
*Occupies about two-thirds of the property and there’s more on surrounding properties. Fire is a constant worry in summer. Last fire in the area was 16 years ago (we weren’t living here then), so we’re well overdue for another.
*Major decision in the management of this area is to remove all grass, native and non-native. Some of this area was cleared by a previous owner, the sand taken out and sold and replaced with weedy fill. I had planned to remove all the non-native grasses and replace with native and had done quite a bit of that, but even the native grass dies off/back in such dry weather and since I only have a hand mower, it’s more than I can cope with, considering there are more important things to do than mow grass. I’m certainly not going to buy a noisy, fossil-fueled mower or pay someone with one to do it, so, over winter, the grass is going to go (yes, glyphosate, unfortunately; I can’t hand-weed it all). I’ll keep a small area of representative species somewhere, of a size that I can handle, just to maintain the diversity of species and as a seed bank. The vegetation community here is Heathy Woodland anyway, not Grassy Woodland, so its understorey should only contain minimal grasses.
*Bracken will continue to be removed and mulched on a weekly basis. It makes great mulch and I need plenty.
*I’ll continue to remove fine dead fuels and keep the bush as clean and green as I can. The cooling effect of the large eucalypts in summer is something it would be pretty stupid to eliminate. In any case there’s a protective covenant on that part of the property, which bans any clearing, in perpetuity.  But nothing is forever and climate change is a whole new ball game. Things change and we must change with them if we want to survive.
*Also, rather than have an area of continuous shrubbery, I’ll keep some areas open, with just a minimal ground layer of wildflowers and small herbaceous species and intersperse that with clumps of shrubs for habitat. It won’t eliminate fire, but might minimise its effect. While I intended this to be a conservation property, in a warming, drying, fossil fuel depleting world, conservation will eventually become dead in the water as people attempt to just survive. Anything that competes with humans for food will be killed (including, in the later stages of collapse, other humans), and anything that will carry wildfire (and can’t be eaten), will be chopped down. It’s too late for anything now, except to try and survive what’s coming. Major cultural change isn’t going to happen. (Some see that, most don’t).

The bush:

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Notwithstanding all that, I’ll keep plugging on, enjoying the bush and my food forest and the healthy, tasty food it gives me in return for all the work. Shopping till I drop and unhealthy supermarket food just aren’t options for me and even without climate change and energy depletion, still wouldn’t be.

Postscript: Because it’s the equinox, I’m supposed to be out planting my garlic and potato onions today, but instead I’m having an indoors day. It rained last night (only 8 mm, but not to be sneezed at), and there’s a vicious nor-easterly blowing which is unpleasant to work in (everything I put down blows away), AND too many inside jobs have been building up. I’m having a much-needed tidy-up, making yoghurt and mueslii and re-bubblewrapping the windows (before you say, whaaat?… I’ll be explaining that soon).

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Drought victims

January 31, 2013

This is was a feijoa:

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Admittedly I haven’t given it any water at all and for some reason (unknown), this is a very dry spot. Everything here is wilted and unhappy. I’m not too fussed about it because I have feijoas doing better, in other locations. Just look at this one, planted in the grey water line:

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It hasn’t been watered at all either, but gets a good soak every time I do a load of washing or have a shower.

This was a pepino:

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One thing I can say for certain about pepinos is that they won’t tolerate dryness. I’ve lost all three I had in a variety of places in the food forest.  It was only regular rainfall that kept them going. I deliberately let them go because they weren’t successful grown at ground level as the rabbits constantly chewed the fruit. I still have plants from struck cuttings and I’m going to put one in a wicking tub close to the house (perhaps even on the deck), where I can keep an eye on rabbit (& possum) predation and net if necessary (rabbits chewed through the net when I had them growing in the ground).

A sad patch of oregano:

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Again I’m not fussed if it dies. I have multiple patches of herbs throughout the garden and I’m only trying to keep one of each alive. It will be interesting to see if this one comes back following rain  (you DO remember rain don’t you?  Sorry Queenslanders, I only wish you could send some of your excess to Victoria!).

One good thing about the lack of rainfall is that the first and second of the three pools down at the rear of the property have dried right out. This didn’t happen over the past two (wetter) summers and the water plants just took over and stupidly, I let them go. I should never have planted them in the first place, but didn’t know much about water plants at the time. So I’ve been chopping out all the plants, slicing underneath and removing the matted root systems with the spade. Much easier to do when you don’t have to don gumboots. I’m looking forward to seeing clear water again. I’ve almost finished the first pool. It’s only shallow—just over ankle deep at the most. If the rain holds off, I may try and deepen it a bit before it fills again.

What it used to look like:

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What it looks like now:

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The third pool is deeper (probably up to my thighs) and still has water in the centre. It may not dry out completely. I might just clear around the edges and leave the centre for habitat:

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Dry sand? No worries for us. Just right for a bath. We love that gritty-sand-against-the-skin feeling:

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Later edit—just before hitting the publish button; it’s raining as I type this!! Yay! Looks like 10 mm in the gauge and a couple of thousand litres in the tank. More please, Rain God!

Around the garden

October 4, 2012

I’ve planted out the tomatoes I bought at the Sunday market. They’re big enough and the weather is warm enough and I hope it’ll stay that way.  I notice Suburban Tomato (who also lives in Melbourne), has planted hers out too, so I feel encouraged. My own seedling tomatoes are still too small to go out.

Two Rouge de Marmande in a wicking box. I haven’t grown this variety before and Suburban Tomato has a stunning photo of one at the link above. Hope mine are that big!:

And two Roma, also in a wicking box (with silver beet for company):

The two small plots of wheat I planted (bread wheat & cake wheat), started to flower and I was determined to keep the parrots from getting the developing seeds this year. I’ve netted both plots and if there’s no wind, will give the plants a shake regularly, because grasses are wind-pollinated:

It looks like some nice plump grains in those heads:

The daikon (Japanese radish) is running to seed and I’m disappointed that it hasn’t produced roots of any size. Obviously I planted it too late. Back to the drawing board. I’ll let some plants go to seed and hang the rest up for the chooks to gorge on:

Now I know why I always get such a good crop of blueberries from this plant in a pot on the deck. This Noisy Miner is doing a spot of pollination:

The six redcurrants in the greywater line are flowering for the first time. The plants have been in for three years and most are over a metre tall. They were all grown from seed, which is probably why they’ve taken so long to flower:

I don’t know what pollinates these tiny flowers, but fruits are already forming. More netting needed:

Nearly all the garlic in the ground has died. First it got garlic rust fungus and then black aphids finished it off. I sprayed the aphids, but had already given up on it for this year. But the garlic in the wicking box is doing well. Minimal rust and no aphids. I can’t explain it; I’m just happy that I might get some sort of a crop this year:

Shallots in a wicking tub. There are flower buds appearing, so I hope I’ll get seed and be able to grow more that way. Buying shallot bulbs to plant can be expensive:

This year, for the first time, I’m planting leeks in a wicking tub:

The problem with leeks in a tub is the depth of soil, or at least, not so much the depth of soil as the depth of the tub. The tubs I use are 25 cm deep. When I grow leeks in the garden, I cover the stems way up with mulched bracken, so they develop that nice white colour out of the light. They’re also in a wire ring in the garden, so the bracken stays in place. The tub is too shallow to do that, so I’ll have to build up the sides with some wire or timber to get more depth. Shouldn’t be too much of a problem. This tub is right next to the Girls’ playground fence. The row of leeks at the back might suffer the dreaded beaks-through-the-wire syndrome. THAT will be a problem!

Lettuce seedlings almost ready to plant:

Are you following me? Native Crested Pigeon wanting a feed. Friendly little birds; they’ve become very tame:

And finally, beans. I normally start planting beans in October and plant a batch every month until February. They invariably take 2 months to bear and that means from December onwards I have beans to pick every week until May. I grow Purple King climbers wherever there’s something for them to climb on and French beans everywhere else. French beans grow very well in wicking boxes. This year I got a head start with the climbers and planted them in early September in one of the two corrugated planter boxes where I’d prepared a trellis for them. It’s up against a north-facing wall and I hoped they’d germinate there, even though some days were still a bit on the cool side. They did germinate and so now I’m a month ahead with beans. That’s silver beet in the front of the box:

The autumn garden

April 2, 2012

I love autumn in Melbourne.

Warm, sunny, windless days; gentle rain (hopefully); new growth from all the plants that went dormant over summer. It’s a good time to get into the garden and re-assess progress towards self-sufficiency.

This persimmon is starting to colour up:

There are 12 fruits on the tree this year. It’s the third year of flowering. In the first year it set 2 fruit, but they dropped off before they matured. Last year there was just one and I pampered and mothered that fruit like it was precious gold. All the leaves fall before the fruit is fully ripe and a leafless persimmon, covered in bright orange globes, is a sight to behold. I swathed my single fruit in netting to keep the parrots and possums off and allowed it to ripen till it was soft. I cut off the top and spooned out the pulp. It has the texture of rich apricot jam and is something to die for.

So I’m determined to enjoy that sensation 12 times over this season! I’ll have to cover each fruit individually, since the tree is too awkward and brittle to net. I’d better start thinking about it soon, before the leaves drop.

The plants in the greywater line are continuing to grow well despite no additional water over summer. Every time I shower, do a load of washing, use the kitchen sink or clean my teeth, they get watered. All the greywater from the house goes down the line. When I want to feed them with seaweed fertiliser, I fill the laundry trough with water, add a cup of Seasol and pull the plug.

Here’s the post that explains how I did it and here’s how it looks now:

There are feijoas, redcurrants and yacon and I’ve just planted a few tamarillos into the gaps. The large leaves of tamarillo transpire a lot of water in the hot weather and they need a lot of water to feed their shallow roots. I did very well last autumn with tamarillos because it was a wetter than usual summer. They were planted right down the back (silly, in retrospect), where dragging the hose is a real pain and luckily they didn’t need it. This summer was much drier and I just couldn’t get the water into them, so I gave up. At times, after a scorching day, the leaves hung limply on the branches and I thought I would lose them. A shower of rain at the right time saved them, but it wasn’t enough to produce decent-sized fruit. I’ll get some fruit, but they will be pretty small. So in future, tamarillos will be planted closer to the water tank, in fact I’ve just planted 3 right at the base of the tank in amongst maidenhair fern. If they don’t do well there, they won’t do well anywhere!

I noticed this beautiful little web early one morning between the wires of the deck posts. The sun was low in the east and illuminating it from behind and there was a bit of mist in the air as well. The tiny spider was still in the web—it’s the little white blob to the left of centre (the flash went off and has reflected back off the spider). What a masterpiece!

Celery is doing well in a wicking box. Celery loves plenty of water so I wouldn’t grow it anywhere else but in a wicking box now:

Basil is also doing well in a wicking box. It’s in flower and I’ve left it for the bees. I’ll use it all up in a final batch of basil pesto before I pull it out and might get some seeds from it if the parrots don’t get them first:

Silver Beet in a planter box. It’s the variety called Spinach Beet or Perpetual Spinach. I like this variety and after growing Fordhook Giant for many years, I think this one is far superior in taste and texture. Of course, it isn’t really ‘perpetual’, that’s a phony advertising ploy. It will run to seed in it’s second year just like other biennials:

In the front of the box is some form of bunching onion. I don’t know the species or variety. It was given to me and the giver called it spring onions, but I don’t think it’s that. Whatever it is, it’s very useful. It just keeps on producing new growth at the edges.

Oh, and I love it that daylight saving is over. I’m a morning person and now it’s lighter earlier, I can get out into the garden at a reasonable time and get an extra hour of work in before lunch.

Have rabbits & butterflies given up sex?

October 10, 2011

I can’t believe it’s spring and there are NO Cabbage White Butterflies flying and NO baby rabbits eyeing off the greenery.

It’s warm enough, so where are they? This year I actually WANT Cabbage Whites. Can you imagine that? I want nice, fat green grubs to throw to my chickens. The rabbits I can do without.

I suspect they’ll both be along sooner or later, so, in the case of the rabbits, I’m trying to get as much planted as possible, so the plants will grow big enough to withstand the rabbit attack when it comes.

Even so, I’m not taking any chances and everything I plant is being protected with wire guards. It’s a real pain in the neck to have to do this; it takes twice as long to plant anything.

Today I put out 8 borage seedlings and there are another dozen growing on, to go. I also have plenty of calendula and a few nasturtiums. The nasturtiums self-seeded and were dug up from a spot where I didn’t want them. Usually, I just sow the large seeds direct; in warm soil they germinate easily. I want all these mainly to attract bees to the garden, although calendula petals are edible and look attractive in a salad, as do nasturtium flowers and of course, nasturtium leaves are edible, too.

I’ve also started putting out tomatoes, since they were big enough in the pots, and everyone else seems to be planting theirs. This year I’m growing Grosse Lisse, Burnley, Black Russian, Black Cherry, Red Pear Cherry, Roma, San Marzano and Green Zebra. There’s also a single Purple Cherokee I bought at a Sunday market and a couple of Silvery Fir Tree which I’m growing for the first time (because the foliage looked nice in the picture).

The red cherry tomatoes  will go into the grey water line. They did very well there last year and I won’t have to worry about watering them. Some of the tall varieties will go into the deep wicking tubs and the rest into the main garden. The smaller-growing Roma and San Marzano will go into wicking boxes. In total, I think I potted up about 50 tomatoes. I’ll plant some in a friend’s garden and give a few cherry varieties to a neighbour for her kids to enjoy picking.

And finally, because no post would be complete without ‘the girls’, here they are, resting from their labours:

Grey water line working well

December 26, 2010

The grey water dispersal system I put in last January is working well. I know we’ve had lots of rain this year and that must have contributed to much of the growth that’s occurred, but it’s still good to know that all of the wastewater that leaves the house is being put to use growing more food and not being wasted by being piped to a useless septic tank like most of my neighbours have.

There’s a difference in the growth along various parts of the system and I wonder if that’s due to the volume of water and how far down the line it actually reaches as it soaks into the ground through the slotted pipe.

Here’s the beginning of the line. The growth here is lush—mainly native mint (Mentha diemenica):

Past the mint there’s a line of 3 Feijoas and 3 Redcurrants and in between those  some Yacon tubers (with the large leaves) and 3 Reisentraube cherry tomatoes. They’re doing particularly well and are covered in flowers:

The final section contains another 3 Feijoas and 3 Redcurrants, with 3 Red Pear cherry tomatoes in between. The growth in this last section hasn’t been as good:

I always save up washing clothes till I’ve got a full load in the machine, so if there’s less water getting this far down the  line, maybe the solution is longer showers!

 

This week’s harvest:

  • Dutch Cream potatoes 3206 gm
  • Yellow Zucchini  335 gm
  • Butter Beans  480 gm
  • Blue Lake Beans  159 gm
  • Lebanese Zucchini  328 gm
  • Desiree potatoes  362 gm

Plus lettuce, silver beet, sorrel, wild rocket, kale, and a variety of herbs. The lemon tree finally has lemons and there are still plenty of Valencia oranges.

Fertility capture

November 1, 2010

This luxuriant growth is a mixture of Lemon Balm and Slender Knotweed (Persicaria decipiens), a water-loving plant native to this area.

They’ve both self-seeded here and they’re growing at the base of the slight slope on which my food forest is situated. They’re an example of what Geoff Lawton of the Permaculture Research Institute calls fertility (with a Pommy accent).

One of the things permaculture is about is nutrient capture. The nutrients in these plants represent a fertility source that can be returned to the soil to promote the growth of more plants, preferably the ones I want to eat. As water and nutrients flow down the slope, some is captured by the plants in the food forest and what escapes to the lower levels is captured by this layer of growth (there’s about 2 square metres of it).

So it makes sense to reclaim this fertility by slashing back all this growth and returning it to the top of the slope, as mulch, under the fruit trees, where it will rot down, return nutrients to the soil and start the process all over again.

Both these plants will regrow after slashing and I reckon I’ll get a couple more cuts out of this layer before the Lemon Balm goes into winter dormancy. The Knotweed will continue to grow through the winter and the Lemon Balm will come up through it again in the spring.

Below is another area of fertile growth—Native Mint (Mentha diemenica)—at the outlet of the grey water system. This also dies back in winter and will eventually be slashed back, after I’ve dried enough to use as a herbal tea in winter.

Greywater dispersal system

January 10, 2010

My first major post-permaculture design course project has been the construction of a greywater dispersal system.

But first, a bit of background info is needed.

When we moved into this property, 10 years ago, my aim was not only to become self-sufficient in food, water & fuelwood, but to prepare for the inevitable changes that energy decline is going to bring about.

One of the things that seemed dubious in the future was the provision of water. With a growing population and a warming climate it seemed likely that eventually, one day, water would not be piped to private properties as it is now. Either there wouldn’t be enough water or there wouldn’t be the energy to pump it. So flush toilets would become a thing of the past, hence the choice of a composting toilet.

That bit was relatively easy, although getting the permit through Council wasn’t (being a forward-thinking person in a backward-thinking municpality is never easy!). Composting toilets are EPA approved, so they couldn’t really refuse, and we got our toilet eventually.

The problem then became what to do with greywater. I originally conceived of storing it in a tank to use on the garden (although I didn’t know it then, and neither did the plumber, that it’s illegal to store greywater for longer than 24 hours).

What the plumber did know, and told me, was that because of the levels, a tank would have to be below ground. That meant energy to pump it up, so that was out.

We had planned to have a system of pools or a wetland at the rear of the property to take the water tank overflow so I figured maybe the greywater could be run into that as well. I’d already dug out a shallow natural watercourse from the tank overflow pipe to the pools (there’s a slight natural slope), so asked the plumber to put the greywater exit pipe next to the tank overflow pipe. However running greywater above ground like that wasn’t legal either, and the Council told me I’d have to install a reed bed system. I didn’t want the boxed-in type of system, where the reeds are confined, because I knew they’d eventually choke it up, so opted for a natural system where reeds and rushes would be planted around the outlet pipe and free to grow and spread where they pleased. There was so little greywater that it didn’t ever make it down to the pools anyway.

So that’s where things were when I started the permaculture design course. I’d been dissatisfied with the system for quite a while, but couldn’t see my way clear as to what to do about it. When we did greywater systems it became obvious that I was wasting that water growing reeds and rushes, when it could be used to grow more food.

Here’s what it looked like when I started:

The white pipe on the left with the cap on it and the hose sticking out, connects to all the downpipes from the roof and the pipe that runs into the water tank. When the tank is being filled the cap is put on the pipe and water backs up in all the downpipes until it reaches the level of the tank, so it runs into the tank. When the tank’s full it overflows into a nearby pipe (just visible at bottom left) which also runs into the reed bed system. In winter, when the tank’s full and the water’s not being used much for the garden, the cap is unscrewed and the flexible black pipe with the blue end, is poked into the main pipe and this takes the roof water straight to the pools (it became necessary to abandon the idea of a natural watercourse because too much water sank into the ground and didn’t make it to the pools). When full, the downpipes contain about 400 litres of water so the hose on the cap allows me to direct that water where I want it. (Taking off the cap when the downpipes are full is perilous—the rush of escaping water nearly knocks me over and erodes all before it!)

The white pipe on the right is the greywater exit pipe. The plants behind it are the remains of the reeds/water plants that were planted around it. Water used to run out of that pipe onto the ground amongst the reeds. I’ve removed most of the plants around it and inserted a slotted drainage pipe into it.

The slotted drainage pipe is about 10 m long and runs beside the stormwater pipe (which, of course, is not slotted). I’m hoping it will be long enough to cope with all the greywater, but if not, it can easily be extended. In this next picture, I’ve removed some of the reeds and covered the ground with wet newspaper. This is to prevent any seeds that were in the ground from germinating. I decided not to bury the greywater pipe completely because of the possibility of tree roots invading and blocking it.

Here I’ve covered the newspaper and the greywater pipe with mulched bracken. The only pipe visible is the stormwater pipe from the roof. At this point both pipes run alongside a path which is covered with grey gravel.

Here I’ve started to put in the first group of plants alongside the greywater pipe—3 feijoas. The 2 pipes, side by side can be seen, in the distance. I’ll eventually continue the mulched, planted area right to the end of the greywater pipe.

I’ve now put down more newspaper and bracken mulch and planted more fruit trees. There’s the 3 original feijoas, then 3 redcurrants, then 3 more feijoas and 3 more redcurrants (it’s going to be a fairly formal planting and will use up an excess of those two species, which I’d grown from seed). In between and slightly behind the line of trees, I’ve planted a dozen rhubarb seedlings. I haven’t managed to get rhubarb to grow successfully anywhere else and I’m hoping the nutrient-rich extra water will do the trick. They’re a bit further away from the greywater pipe but I expect they’ll eventually find the wet soil near the pipe if the water doesn’t manage to spread out to them.

In front of the stormwater pipe, at the edge of the path, I’ve planted some local natives, Mentha diemenica (native mint) and Chrysocephalum semipapposum (Clustered Everlasting), a clumping native daisy with silver-grey foliage and terminal clusters of yellow button-daisies. The mint will spread under and around the pipes and should love the wet soil. The daisy will provide some pretty spring colour and will also spread slightly. Both plants should eventually hide the stormwater pipe somewhat. There’s even a self-sown tomato in the front of the picture which is doing well.

To check whether the greywater was going to make it to the end of the pipe, I put on a full load of washing and stood and watched as the wash water pumped out. Yay! The greywater easily reached the end of the pipe (because it’s on a slope) and in fact, most of it probably ended up there, which caused me to worry that the plants closest to the outlet wouldn’t get enough water!  I could see, by lifting the pipe, that water was coming out of the slots all the way along, so things will probably be OK. A full load of washing is a lot more water than would come from the kitchen sink or a short shower and those smaller volumes of water should water the plants at the beginning of the system adequately. I’ll just have to wait and see how it goes, but in any case, I’m much happier to think that every drop of water that goes down any plughole in the house is now being put to use in growing more food.

Seeing as that self-sown tomato is doing so well, I’m even thinking ahead to next spring and wondering how a few cherry tomatoes might go, tucked in between the fruit trees and allowed to sprawl over the ground. Might mean taking more frequent and longer showers!