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23 September 2009

Diverting shower water to the garden in Brisbane

For a small patch of sloping earth, our native garden brings me a disproportionate amount of pleasure. While I wonder how a simple flowering shrub can bring such joy, I suspect most gardeners would be well-acquainted with this emotion – one that keeps us coming back for more digging, planting and fussing.

Several years of occasional efforts have produced a mediocre result in our garden, certainly when compared with others I have seen flourish in the same time. So I called upon Satya the organic gardening expert (and fellow Paddington Green Precinct member). His analysis? A lack of water. That should not have been a surprise given the drought that Brisbane has endured in recent years.

Satya encouraged a revamp of our bathroom water diversion. Our previous attempt failed because the water kept coming back up the pipe into the bathroom. It was simply because the pipe was too narrow for the volume of water Satya said, so he showed me how to fit a larger diameter pipe into the downpipe diverter.

He also discovered a dry white fungus under most of our mulch layer. This was actually stopping any water that did fall from soaking through the mulch into the soil. Fixing this will take a lot of digging the mulch into the soil layer and applying water (from the shower diverter), so that the natural soil organisms are able to go to work and take back their territory. We use minimal soap and only natural shampoo, so our water from the shower is safe for the native plants.

As we investigated some sooty pest problems on the Grevillea bushes, I was fascinated to learn from Satya about a company called Bugs for Bugs that supplies good bugs to eat bad bugs – via mail order! Imagine, to combat red scale in citrus trees you can buy "a cup" of Aphytis wasps (that's 10,000 wasps in a cup!) for $44. Having never heard of this before, just a few days later Bugs for Bugs was mentioned again when discussing organic lettuce growing with a stallholder at the Kelvin Grove Village Markets.

We can also help the garden by using our Bokashi compost bin more often and digging in the compost scraps (the Bokashi micro-organisms turn the scraps into highly enriching soil conditioner).

Forty metres of grey water pipe winding through our yard is not particularly pretty (photo above), but I’m happy. Not only can we enjoy the flowers in passing each morning, we can take extra pleasure from a shower, knowing that the water is on its way to those thirsty plants.

Author & Editor

Tracey Bailey is the founder of Biome Eco Stores and mother of two. After working in corporate communications and starting a family, she made a choice to be part of the solution to our planet's future and started Biome Eco Stores. Tracey is passionate about educating the community about living eco-friendly and sustainable lives through her extended product, chemical, health and environmental knowledge.


Brisbane Web Designer said...

Your native garden looks fabulous, Tracey, and I can spy a curious magpie wanting to get in on a bit of the action too :) Must be lots of goodies in the soil!

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