greywater in the garden

I have a greywater hose running from the washing machine to the garden so I can reuse the washing water on the vegies. Today the newly sprouted garlic needed a drink.

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a glass of rainwater

glass of rainwater

I’m drinking rainwater again after 6 months of tap water. After my tank ran down over summer, I didn’t set up the filter again until now. Why did I take so long when my favourite drink is rainwater??

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Tasty Rainwater

rainwater to drink Last year I blogged about getting a rainwater tank and said I’d be drinking rainwater soon. I got it at the end of winter, but it filled with rain from the unusual downpours in November. I didn’t start drinking it then because my dad suggested I don’t drink the initial water, to ensure any contaminants from manufacture were washed away. Over summer I used the water on the garden and the tank filled again this winter. Now, nine months later, I’m drinking rainwater from my tank.

glass of rainwater The first time I drank water from the tank it tasted so different to mains water from the kitchen tap. I thought it tasted purer, but that might be the only way I can think of to describe the difference. I have an old house, with ancient plumbing and I’m sure this does something to the water. In summer I don’t like drinking it straight from the tap, I refrigerate it first. In winter the cold air refrigerates it, so I don’t taste whatever it is I don’t like* (and it is the plumbing that affects the taste, not chlorine or fluoride or whatever, I’m happy to drink water straight from the tap at other houses). After drinking rainwater for a few weeks I’ve got used to whatever the difference is and it just tastes like water now, but I still love drinking it. Water is my favourite drink.

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More on rain (not more rain)

satellite image of cloud cover 11/06/09 09:30 Since May’s rain there’s been lots more sunny days, until this week. The satellite image of the cloud cover on Thursday morning showed a large portion of WA covered in thick cloud. This produced a nice downpour of 22.2mm for Perth, with June’s rainfall so far now 43.6mm. As a result we’re no longer having the driest January to June on record [1], but the rain didn’t last. It’s been fine since then and the forecast is for more un-June sunny weather until Thursday, even if the temperature has dropped.

Last winter I blogged about Perth’s water restrictions:

Only in October 2007 were restrictions placed on summer bore use, for irrigating residential gardens, parks, sporting fields and golf courses. Theoretically restrictions shouldn’t be needed in winter months because you’d think people would realise that irrigation isn’t necessary when it’s raining. Sadly, I’ve seen sprinklers in use at Curtin University and gardens near my house, when it was raining.

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Saving my Shower

I have a water-efficient showerhead, but my showers have always been way too long. While I realise household water use only makes up only 11% of total water consumption in Australia [1], I still felt bad that I could be using less water.

adjustable spanner Last year Towards Sustainability blogged about the Shower Saver and a couple of months ago I got one. Even though I still spend more than four minutes in the shower, the water’s only running for a more reasonable time (although I haven’t timed it).

There were easy-to-install instructions with the Shower Saver, so I thought I’d do it myself. While the instructions were very easy to follow, the Shower Saver didn’t work when I’d finished. My dad had a look and discovered the problem was with my confusing plumbing and I just needed to make a small adjustment to fix it. Thus my plumbing adventures were a success.

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A wet November

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about the unusual rainfall this spring.

The start of November had 29.4mm over four days, already above the monthly average of 19.7mm. So far the less than average rainfall in September has not been cancelled out by November’s deluge. The average from 1 September to 30 November is 152mm and we’ve had 143.6mm. If the forecast rain falls we’ll be going even more above November’s average, but may only meet the three month average. Seeing as predicting the weather isn’t my forte, I’ll get back to reporting on what’s been and gone.

The forecast rain fell and November’s rainfall was 57.8mm, the most November rain since 1984, when 73mm fell [1]. On 23 November there was 17.4mm – almost November’s average in one day. All this rain increased November’s long term average to 22.1mm. A wet November was the case across Australia.

Above to very much above average November 2008 rainfall over much of Australia largely cleared short-term rainfall deficiencies, especially over the NT, SA and WA.

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All that rain

Well into spring rain is still falling in Perth. I was so sure this year’s rain had ended, but there’s more forecast for the end of the week. There was 38.4mm in October, slightly below the average of 43.1mm. But the start of November had 29.4mm over four days, already above the monthly average of 19.7mm. So far the less than average rainfall in September has not been cancelled out by November’s deluge. The average from 1 September to 30 November is 152mm and we’ve had 143.6mm. If the forecast rain falls we’ll be going even more above November’s average, but may only meet the three month average. Seeing as predicting the weather isn’t my forte, I’ll get back to reporting on what’s been and gone.

glass of water by Bergius on Flickr There were some pretty hot 30°C days in October, but at the start of November the nights got chilly again. One night it was 6.5°C! After packing away my doona, I had to get it out for a week or so. Now the summery temperatures are back. Although it hasn’t yet reached 30°C I can feel stinking hot days and sultry nights on the way.

November’s rain means my new rainwater tank is half full! 1300ish litres of water. I thought it wouldn’t collect any rain until next winter. I was so excited I drank a glass of water directly from the tank. I hadn’t yet got a ceramic and charcoal filter, but I looked at the glass and it looked nice and clear. I started drinking and half way through had another look at it. That’s when I decided there were some “bits” in it and maybe I would water a plant with the rest.

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More native plants

bee enjoying hardenbergia flowers at Star Swamp

Now that summer’s almost here and my house is starting to cook during the day, I wanted a climbing plant to grow up the side of my house because the shade-giving African acacia is no more (although the stump keeps growing shoots and I keep lopping them off). My neighbours offered me a piece of wooden lattice that they no longer wanted. I’d just bought a piece (evil me) but there’s always room for more. Now I needed two locally native climbing plants to grow up the lattice. I already have Hardenbergia comptoniana starting to grow up my side fence (although it’s still very small) so I needed other ideas.

Ben from Nuts about Natives suggested some candidates:

I decided on Black Kennedia, with its stunning black and yellow flowers. Ben doesn’t propagate it, but said Lullfitz Nursery in Waneroo would have it.

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Drinking Rain (next year)

my new rainwater tank with overflow pipe I’ve been planning to get a rainwater tank (also known as a rainwater barrel or butt depending on where you live) since the start of the year, in time for last winter’s rain, but things got in the way. I first thought I would use the collected water for my garden in summer, but then I realised it would last about a week in Perth’s dry summers. Then I decided I would drink the rain water. My friends at Nuts about Natives do this and it works well. They have a ceramic and charcoal filter, and scrub the roof and guttering before the first winter rains.

my new rainwater tank with downpipe Now, after much um-ing and ah-ing I have a rainwater tank. It was delivered during the very wet week in September. It’s a 1500L above ground tank in heritage green, to match the posts of my carport. To get my drinking water, I will fill a ceramic and carbon filter from the tank tap and it will sit in the kitchen, to provide all my drinking needs. Now the hot weather has arrived I’m drinking a lot more water. I’ve decided not to plumb the tank into my house, mainly because it would run out very quickly. The WA Department of Water provides rebates for part of the cost of rainwater tanks. It’s only $50 if the tank is not plumbed into the house, but it’s still worth it.

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Sunny Spring

Spring sprung a couple of months ago and summer is on its way. Hot days of 30°C have started already and the rain has pretty much ended for the year. I thought it rained quite a bit at the end of September, but we recieved less than the September average of 90.1mm. Last month 75.8mm of rain fell, 39.6mm in the last week and 21mm on Thursday of that week. I got a rainwater tank during that week. Sadly, despite the copious rain, my tank wasn’t connected and missed it all. Perth gets some rain during the rest of the year (on average 69.2mm), but it won’t make a dint in the tank until next winter. I should have got it at the start of winter, when I first planned to.

The Bureau of Meteorology said September’s rainfall has not improved drought conditions in most areas of Australia.

Below average September 2008 rainfall over Victoria, southern NSW, SA and the WA interior maintained short and long-term deficiencies in these areas. In contrast, average to above average September falls over much of the remainder of the country gave some minor relief to short-term deficits over southwest WA, northeast NSW, southwest NT and Queensland.

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