Posted on 07 November 2011 by

Water Conservation and Responsible Gardening

By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter

As the news rolls across my computer screen, I pick up on what is becoming a yearly occurrence it seems and that is a wide spread drought.

Many third world countries continue to suffer from drought conditions and shortages of food but the United States.

My response to this is YES the United States. While we can spend time on arguing over what and who is responsible, I like to act in a proactive way.

Since gardening, in recent years, has experienced resurgence, I feel we, gardeners, should share in responsible water use.

To begin this process, we first need to know what choices we have in water conservation.

Gray Water

Gray water is water from that contains only soap no waste. Water from washing dishes, brushing your teeth and even taking a shower can be processed and used to water the garden. Some equipment is required and some cities have regulations on gray water use so check before using.

This is a great reuse of our water resources that we use everyday.

Cooking Water

Many things that are cooked in water release nutrients back into the water they are being cooked in. This source of water provides moisture and a touch of fertilizer all in one. To use this technique, drain water from pasta, potatoes and/or vegetables into another container. Cool the water before using as a plant-watering medium.

Mulch or Lasagna Gardening

Certain gardening techniques work to preserve soil moisture and reduce the need for watering. Both of these techniques fall into this category. Mulch or lasagna gardening creates layers that are very absorbent in nature and in doing so requires no additional watering.


If your garden is also your landscaping, then using natural plant material is a way of reducing the need for supplemental watering. Plants native to the area are used to and have adapted techniques for the ups and downs of local moisture levels.

Rain Barrels

It is my true belief that every city and citizen should use rain barrels. There are always opportunities around a city’s square or around government building for rain barrels. Before you envision a bunch of blue barrels sitting around the courthouse, many cities are changing this image by allowing artists to use these barrels as a canvas. These decorative barrels not only save water sources but also showcase the talent in the community and in some situations provides financial resources for homeless shelter, and community service organizations.

In my opinion, this is a win-win situation for all.


Hydrogels are a gel substance that absorbs water and releases it to a plant’s roots when needed. In the past, hydrogels were recommended for those who forgot to water or water too much but now new sources and uses of hydrogels have been found.

In recent years, a scientist has been on a mission to increase the world’s food supply. This has been done through a seed bank program where people can donate extra seed that is sent to those in need. Another program has been started whose goal is to plant fruit trees in the desert. This land is usual not farmed due to the lack of moisture but this changing. This scientist utilizes the hydrogel found in diapers to provide moisture for these plants and in doing so he has earned the nickname the “diaper farmer.”

The general process of how this works is that the diaper’s insides are removed and mixed with soil. The fruit trees are then planted in this soil mixture and then it is watered in. The hydrogel that keeps a baby’s bottom dry is the same substance that holds and provides moisture for plants.

So far this program is working but will take many years of study before hydrogels and fruit trees are widely used. But using some type of hydrogel is a great way of conserving our water resources.

So until we blog again, water comes from the sky, river and streams bring life to all that be. Preserving these resources is important for every person, plant and bee so think before you waste even a drop of Mother Natures tears.

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