Tony O’Neill, gardener and author of the popular “Composting Masterclass” and “Your First Vegetable Garden,” combines lifelong passion and expert knowledge to simplify the art of gardening. His mission? Helping you cultivate a thriving garden. More on Tony O’Neill
Unsurprisingly, many people have started using Greywater for their gardens. But most gardeners wonder if this water suits their fruits and vegetables.
Greywater is indeed suitable for your vegetables. But if you misuse this water, it can cause more harm than good when given to edible plants like vegetables and crop plants. The misusing of water stated in this context does not mean its usage but rather its collection and treatment process.
In short, to get all the benefits greywater can provide, one must know how to collect it. But even that is not enough. You have to collect the correct type of water and then filter it. The filtration can make this greywater gold, not only for your plants but for your wallet.
What is Greywater & How to Collect It
Before you can learn all the benefits of using Greywater for your plants, let us start with what it is and how to collect it.
Well, to put it simply, Greywater is the water that comes from the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry.
Understand Greywater for black water, which is another type that can come from residential areas, for they are entirely different.
Greywater and Blackwater, the difference
Blackwater is the water that comes out of the toilet, which is harmful when used to water plants due to its particles. It may be used when properly filtered, but with proper equipment, that may be expensive.
Aside from that specific water, all the water the house uses is Greywater. It might contain dirt, grease, other household products, hair, etc. Bathwater can be a good source of Greywater as the skin cells in the water further boost the soil’s health.
So, how can you use this water and repurpose it? The process is simple; anyone can do it at home, which will be covered in the next section.
Manual Greywater Collection
You can collect water from the laundry, bathroom, and kitchen. The greywater systems can work completely automatically to entirely manually.
Manual greywater system collection costs less than the automatic system, as the latter needs specific equipment for filtration.
This is an excellent option for people who have a tight budget. You will need a bucket and a jug and collect the water manually from your sources. Then you can use it for irrigation immediately, specifically within 24 hours, to prevent bacterial growth in the water.
Simple Piping and filtering system
Now, this second option strictly involves laundry water. Because the piping system here is simple, you can only collect water from one area of your house.
A simple piping water system is best for irrigating nonedible plants
This system is beneficial if the plants you are mainly looking to irrigate are nonedible and don’t come in potted form, for example, the lawns and plants in the hardier garden.
Bathwater, dishwashing water, and, most especially, washing machine water are the types best for the simple piping and filtration system.
Washing machine water can be hooked into a DIY filtering system for this process and later connected to external irrigation systems. Making this filtering system is relatively easy with inexpensive materials. To aid you with building this, you can check this recent article of mine on saving water while using washing up water that extensively covers the benefits of using Greywater and the process of making said filter system.
Benefits to using the simple piping water system
But the good point is that the whole system is automatic. So, if you get grossed out easily, this is a good option.
The laundry is piped to the landscape, and the water is transported there automatically, making the irrigation process easier. Even though the system is not as simple as the manual one, it requires low maintenance. All you have to do is ensure that the pipes are not clogged and that the water flow is consistent.
Complex Sewage & Piping System
This third option is quite expensive. It requires an integrated Sewage and piping system where all the Greywater is directly collected in one place.
The materials may be expensive, and the building process will most likely need professional help to pull off, with possible numerous maintenance checks.
The complex sewage and piping system usually connects the laundry, kitchen, and bathroom to a container, wherein the collected Greywater should be used within 24 hours of collection.
Many systems also connect the greywater piping to the toilet to repurpose the Greywater for flushing purposes.
Greywater Treatment for plants and vegetables
Most of the grey water collected from the laundry and kitchen has less debris. This one, especially bathwater and dishwashing, can directly water non-potted crops or vegetable plants.
Why it is essential to treat Greywater for vegetable plant watering usage
However, due to the still present chemical products, this water harms vegetables if used untreated.
This is why treating the Greywater is essential because, without the proper treatment, the vegetable will be inedible and dangerous to eat due to possible chemical build-up.
Treating of Greywater for vegetable plants – the process
The water treatment process starts with cleaning out the solid debris from the water. For example, any food particle or hair removes from the water.
Then the decontamination happens by using chlorine. This step ensures that the bacteria are dead.
Due to the use of chemical products, the greywater night has high amounts of certain ingredients, and this issue is solved by neutralizing the water using different salts.
After that process, the water is safe for all vegetables and fruits. But you must maintain the filter to ensure it works properly daily. We recommend cleaning the filter from the inside once a week. Stirring the water in the container is also essential so no debris can sit at the bottom of the container.
Benefits of Using Greywater for watering your plants and Vegetables
Using Greywater for your plants, wallet, and the environment has several advantages. So let’s consider what benefits you get after installing a greywater system at home.
Nutrients are present in Greywater.
The Greywater collected from the kitchen usually has more nutrients. It contains different roles of numerals and vitamins. These nutrients are reused when the waste is repurposed, making the vegetables healthier.
Using Greywater is cost-effective.
Yes, installing a whole greywater system in the house might be expensive. The idea is that the process costs $4000 on average. But remember that this is a one-time cost, especially when done right.
You can repeatedly use the same piping system for many years, meaning you will use less freshwater.
This is one reason many people have reduced their water bills after using Greywater for irrigation.
Utilizing Greywater promotes energy efficiency.
If you use Greywater, freshwater consumption will decrease, resulting in less energy consumption.
Freshwater comes to the house using the pumps, which consume high-wattage energy to put in our house systems. But when the house switches to Greywater, there is no need for extra irrigation water. And this way you can save the electricity used on the pump.
Fresh Water Conservation can be done by using Greywater
It is an obvious fact that if you are reusing wastewater, it will reduce freshwater consumption. Doing this not only saves water but saves the planet. Keeping this water will help other people who need fresh water.
Lesser Water Wastage can be done by utilizing Greywater
We never think about where the wastewater goes after we use it.
An average American toilet uses 6 gallons of water for one flush.
This amount is insane if we consider how many people lack drinking water. By reusing wastewater, we can reduce water wastage and save water resources.
Lesser Carbon Footprints can be made by using Greywater
Our planet is already at a critical stage. Animal species are dying and running out of battery resources. At this time, all of us need to think about the big picture.
Using Greywater is an overall good idea as it reduces carbon footprints. Lesser freshwater consumption reduced electricity usage and little water waste. This is the step that can lead us to a better future.
FAQs on Is Greywater Good For Vegetables?
Can the urine go in greywater, or is it a part of black water?
There is a common misconception that black water only refers to solid excrement. Urine is also a part of the black water and should not be mixed with greywater due to the nutrients and the present drugs and chemicals from humans or animals. It is not safe to use in its pure form for irrigation.
Is it safe to clean the greywater tank with bleach?
Many people prefer sterilizing their greywater tank with bleach. And it is an excellent option for reducing the bacteria growth in the tank. However, it is essential to rinse the tank with fresh water afterward. Also, ensure that the bleach will not mix with the irrigation greywater.
Can you water the green part of the plant with the greywater?
Avoid watering the leaf or select parts of the plants with greywater directly. It is not recommended to water the fruits or leaves of the plant with greywater, primarily if the plant parts will be harvested to be eaten. Just focus on watering the soil only.
Can washing machine water be used to water plants?
Washing machine water can directly irrigate lawns and plants, not in pot form. This type belongs to the greywater category and can now be used on all plants, even edible ones, when filtered and processed. This is a great benefit, especially during situations of droughts.
Which plants grow well with greywater?
Plants that can do well with greywater can thrive in alkaline conditions. Acid-loving fruit trees like citrus and berry trees too can take in such water and thrive, as well as some acid-loving shrubs and ornamental plants, with gardenias, camellias, and rhododendrons as examples.
Conclusion on using Greywater on your vegetables
In this article, Greywater can be extremely useful during droughts and water shortages, where freshwater should be used for more critical tasks or drinking rather than watering plants. However, knowing if the water is good or not for your vegetables is extremely important because small mistakes can create many problems.
This is why it is recommended for everyone to do their research if they feel the need to on greywater usage, possible filtering and storing of said water that works for your household, and possible considerations for your home garden.
If you liked this article, subscribe to the form below to be notified about future content and releases!