Nighttime showers for my flowers (Day 207)…

As green as it seems on the surface to have a garden full of flowers, plants and trees, the downside is that a lot of species require watering every day to survive. While I’ve been able to invest in some indoor house plants that only need water every few weeks, the mini trees on my balcony need to be kept as saturated as possible. And although I’m already doing so with greywater — ie. what’s leftover after doing the dishes or boiling a pot of pasta — I’m now going to make sure I only water them in the evening, when the sun’s not out to evaporate any before it gets down to the roots.

8 Responses to Nighttime showers for my flowers (Day 207)…

  1. emily says:

    Vanessa, I have a question about using pasta water, because it’s something I’ve thought of doing myself. What about the starch that sometimes boils off? Does it make the dirt in your tree-pot gooey on the surface? Or do you not notice it at all? I don’t reuse water from potatoes for the same reason…

  2. Greenpa says:

    I’ve got a greenhouse; part of my business. Lots of experience with plants in pots! What you’re doing here is risky, from the plants’ point of view. A plant in a pot is a very different critter from a tree in the ground.

    a) they NEED water during the hot day more than at night. While evening watering MAY provide all the water they need through the day, I wouldn’t hesitate to give the poor plant a sip in the middle of a hot dry windy day. It could be critical.

    b) greywater might indeed cause problems for your potted plants. While putting it out onto live soil usually works just fine, a pot is a very tiny ecosystem, pretty easily unbalanced. Too much pasta water MIGHT indeed get you some trouble. MIght not, too! Soapy dishwater, likewise. You need a good healthy organic soil to handle all the gray stuff, and it might get overwhelmed. I don’t have any actual experience using graywater for pots; but I think I might try to alternate watering gray and clear, just to give the soil an easier time.

    Something that’s usually true- any potted plant needs occasional “flushing” – being watered with clean plain water to the point that the soil is “flushed”; clean water should be running out the bottom of the pot. Be careful it’s not just running down the SIDE of the pot, where the soil may have pulled away from dryness; it needs to be filtering through all soil. Flushing once a month is a good idea.

    There’s a lot of art to growing plants in pots. Some plants are more forgiving; some not. It IS very rewarding, once you get the hang of it.

  3. gettinggreen says:

    Yes, not to worry — my plants seem fine and the soil hasn’t turned gucky or anything. I will occasionally give them some plain water if there’s no greywater kicking around, too. Also, not sure if it makes a difference, but I tend to boil rice pasta more than regular pasta…

    Thanks for the tip on flushing, Greenpa — never thought of that before! I’m going to try it out when I get back to Toronto. And yes, of course I’d give the poor guys a top-up on a really hot summer’s day. Now, though, it’s definitely fall and if anything they’re probably a little too cold and wet… haha.

  4. blah says:

    my friend in high school used the water from her fish tank to water the plants. She would clean the tank once a week and use the dirty fish water to water her plants. She swore it made the plants grow better due to the… ahem…furtilizer in the fishy water.

  5. cheaplikeme says:

    Yep, “fish emulsion” is a great fertilizer (and encourages our dog to aerate the soil with some digging as he searches for the dead fish …).

  6. CindyW says:

    We have quite a lot of flowers and plants in the yard that require regular watering. So we are planning to convert the garden into an edible one. There will still be flowers, but they bloom to make fruit 🙂 I am imaging eating berries, grapes, figs, melons next summer…

  7. Nick says:

    Totally agree with your decision to water plants in the evening, or first thing in the morning of course. Water from fish tanks does act as a good fertiliser for plants becuase it is rich in nitrogen and phosphorus.

  8. Rebekka says:

    Actually it’s a much better idea to water first thing in the morning than it is to water at night.

    Why, you ask?

    At night, plants go to ‘sleep’. The thousands of stomata they use to suck in CO2 in order to photosynthesise are shut, and the plants aren’t growing. During the day, the stomata open, and the plants get nutrients from the soil by sucking up water through their roots, and they lose water through the open stomata as they photosynthesise. If you water first thing in the morning, just as the plant is ‘waking up’, they start sucking up the water straight away and thus get the benefits of the water and nutrients right when they need them. Water at night, the plants aren’t sucking up the water, and by the morning lots of it has drained away. Which you particularly don’t want happening when you’re using grey water, as any salts etc are ending up in the water table, which over time is not a great idea.

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