Water! Water is vital to the all aspects of the Urban Homestead and, though we are dependent on the municipal water source for most of our water (digging a well is out of the question — looked into it), we do our best to conserve what water we do use.
On the homestead in New Zealand, there was a huge cistern that collected rainwater for the household. On the Florida homestead, we had a well; but, here on our city homestead, it’s all about conservation and collection of potable water.
Our water journey started back in early 90’s when So Cal was going through a severe drought and Farmer D took the first “radical” step by smothering our front lawn to grow food. Mulching heavily and hauling buckets of greywater from the house, we started on the path towards cutting our water usage.
What about rainwater?
In 2006, we removed our old (slightly dilapidated) shingle roof and installed a metal one that’s better equipped for rainwater harvest; however, our “official” rainwater harvesting project is still on hold until we put gutters on this old house; but, in the meantime, we use buckets and 55 gallon drums to collect the water. Every bit helps!
One of the most frequently asked questions is about water and awhile back I put together a list of some of the “Water Wise Ways” we’ve adopted here on the urban homestead. Check out the list
Since this list, we’ve successfully cut our water useage in 1/2 while maintaining our high harvest yields. Our water bill for the entire year (including personal use) is $600
This month, we are taking steps forward on the water front. We are converting even more beds and garden space to the highly efficient clay pot irrigation method and almost completing one of our greywater projects that will divert the used bath water to water our trees and garden.
Not to mention the aquaponics project. We gals have our critters and Justin, well, he’s just crazy over these fish. We tell him you can’t pet fish and our critters are cuter. hehe
But he’s really stoked about his new project – think it’s because it reminds him of the time spent fishing on the bay (Tampa Bay) with Grandpa. I dug up this “flash from the past” pic of Justin fishing with “Pop Pop”
Speaking of fish and water.
Back on our 10 acres in Florida, Farmer D made a huge pond and filled it with fish. I remember plowing through the tall grasses with our bamboo fishing poles, hanging out at sunset (good fishing time), always on the look out for slimy water moccasins and the ever imaginary phantom gator that we hoped never stalked our pond, though there were signs of a visit from one!
What is ‘Aquaponics’
Aquaponics by definition is the combination of aquaculture and hydroponics. Nutrient rich fish water is pumped from the fish tank into gravel beds, where plants growing in the gravel extract the nutrients from the water. The water then drains back into the fish tank cleaned of excess nutrients and freshly oxygenated.
With this system we can grow a supply of fresh herbs, vegetables and fresh fish growing right outside our back patio with no chemicals and no wastes, using about one tenth of the water required for normal vegetable growing.
More on that later. But now for pictures!
Digging a trench
Bathwater diverted out into the yard
and out into the garden
to the raised beds
and under the raised beds
In goes our homegrown dirt – last year’s compost!
More ollas in bed
A study by the University of Pretoria showed results of “water savings between 50% and 70% are achievable with the clay pot irrigation system.”
You can purchase ollas via our online store
Putting ollas into the established herb garden out front
Clay pot irrigated herb bed – done!
Hey, fishy fishy