Make the most of our water supply

We’re in the midst of a 5-year drought where I am in Central Texas, so water conservation is at the top of our home lists. No matter where you live, it’s important to keep tabs on water usage. Here’s a hip trick provided courtesy of our county extension horticulture agent, Daphne Richards:

Many people capture the cold water from the sink or the shower while they’re waiting for it to heat up, which is great, but you can also capture water while you shower. 

You just need a few buckets and you can capture several gallons of water every time you shower. This may not sound like much, but in our continued drought, a few gallons go a long way. In my shower, I use two round buckets, but the real key is the flat-sided bucket that I put between them. I can press the flat bucket up against the back of the shower and catch all of the water that misses me and bounces off the wall. I catch about four gallons per shower, which I normally use on my oak trees in the front yard. 

A friend recently asked about soap in the water and whether that would hurt my plants. Well, most of the water that gets into my buckets has totally missed me, and so doesn’t have any soap in it. But even if the water WAS soapy, it wouldn’t hurt anything. The concentration of soap would not be that high, and soaps these days no longer contain phosphates, which used to be a problem. 

Non-toxic bug repellant

This hip trick comes to us courtesy of Nicole of Fairbanks, Alaska-based blog, Arctic Garden Studio. I got a taste of the monstrous mosquitoes Nicole deals with regularly in her work with the Alaska Bird Observatory (or rather, they got a taste of me) when we toured Creamer’s Field bird refuge. If she says this works, I believe her and plan to try it on our Texas-sized mosquitoes!

Take a small spray bottle and fill it halfway with Dr. Bronner’s peppermint Castile soap (or use unscented Castile soap plus 10 drops of peppermint pure essential oil), fill the bottle the rest of the way with water. Nicole recommends spraying it on and rubbing it in. There’ll be a slight residue, which also helps keep the bugs away. Not down with mint? Try lavender; it’s another bug un-friendly scent.

Added bonus, you can also use this spray bottle to get rid of aphids and pests on your garden plants!