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methods of conserving water: a gardening season primer

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I’ll never forget my first lesson in conserving water. I was at summer camp, and our head counselor stood in front of the group and explained how we could use less water when brushing our teeth by turning off the water when not using it. As an adult who has been doing this practice most my life, it seems so elementary as to require no explanation, but I remember feeling astonished at this news as a child. Oh, right, I don’t need to run the water when I’m not using it!

I make attempts where I can to teach my children to be environmental stewards by modeling the behavior I hope they will adopt someday in their own homes. Now that we are almost back to gardening season, I am sharing a few of the ways I try to conserve water:

Dishes
I plug up the sink instead of running the water while I hand-wash dishes. When I’m washing my hands, I catch the water in a basin or bucket and use the greywater later to rinse off the porch or water the yard.

Canning
Here’s an interesting blog post about saving water when canning. The author saves the water when she’s going to can over several days or uses it to “water” her compost, which helps it break down faster. You can avoid wasting as much water by not buying a canner in the first place and using a stock pot instead, but I was late getting that memo.

Rainwater Harvesting
Wikipedia has an educational article on rainwater harvesting. I got a catchment barrel on Freecycle that I’m excited to use, but I am waiting to use it until we have time and money to alter the gutters. I learned recently that the catchment water can’t be used in a vegetable garden because the water that touched the roof is contaminated with chemicals from the shingles.

I love the idea of planting a garden and other beds to catch rainwater. Our goal someday is to have no lawn to speak of that we have to water and maintain. Living in a semi-urban town in Massachusetts means there are many parks within walking distance where we can run and play in grass. If you’re interested but don’t know where to start, there’s an inspirational rainwater harvesting evangelist out there named Brad Lancaster, and NPR did an informative interview with him a few years back.

How to you conserve water at home? In what ways do you teach your children to be environmental stewards?

Author’s Note: This post is part of The Homestead Barn HopSeasonal Celebration Wednesday, and LHITS DIY Linky

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