Friday, July 23, 2010

Low Tech Kitchen Graywater Recovery

For easily 25 years, starting in Denver when my sink trap began to leak and I put a bucket beneath it, then decided to REMOVE the trap rather than repair it, I've been saving and using my kitchen graywater to nourish my crops and Old Roses. This is a 4 gallon hard boiled egg bucket that a friend gives me TONS of.....perfect height to slip beneath the pipe leaving the sink. I keep a 5 gallon bucket with a strong handle on the kitchen floor to dump the contents of the sink bucket into when it starts to get full. Since in much of the world people have to walk great distances to get, then bring home, water for cooking and cleaning, I enjoy taking 5 gallon buckets to dry areas or to thirsty plants like my guava or bananas, as a form of exercise AND mindful awareness of my water use vs. it disappearing unseen down the drain. Saving sink water in these buckets visibly quantifies my water use, as does my 1 gallon, solar-heated Arizona Green Tea jug showers I take daily in the back yard, standing in a tub to catch that gallon to use on my roses. I just swapped out the gnarly old bucket in this pic for a pristine new one to make my low-tech graywater recovery system all perky and Martha Stewarty looking.

I've done this for SO long that when I am in other peoples' homes I probably visibly palpitate as they let the water run and run as they peel a carrot or something, ALL that unknown quantity of precious water slipping down the drain, wasted (in my tightwad gardening mind at least). If you do this, remember two things: sit the bucket in a tray for the INEVITABLE occasional overflow, especially at the beginning when you are learning how a bucket quantifies your water use, and: stuff a used plastic grocery bag into the pipe that leads out of your home to insure sewer gas (methane) not seep into your home as that is the main purpose of the sink trap.

I am sure I will do this the rest of my life unless I end up a doddering old fart too weak to carry buckets of water! John


  1. LOVE it!!!! I regret so much that I did not begin learning all this stuff years ago. This is my first year gardening, and honestly, I never thought of all these "free" things that have literally gone down my drain. I was so "green" at all this, that I actually had to google "gray water" as I had no idea what people were talking about! I think I've learned more from your blog than anywhere else. And it's even better for me, as I share the same growing area in Florida as you. THANKS!!!!!! And PS: I hit all the ads for you several times a day!

  2. Thanks Cora for the help with my ads! I'm glad that you are finding this blog helpful. People bugged me for years to get an on-line presence, but I could not afford a web builder, so I found software that I wasted $130 difficult to use plus the resulting site would have been too static for my fun form of ADDHD. Then last winter my long time friend Michael Mowry, here from Denver, used his Ipod-ey thing as we walked along Picnic Island Beach to show me Blogspot, then sent me the link. A match made in heaven! It took me just 10 minutes to set up the account and a few more to create the core for 'Starnesland'. I love that I could use white letters on a black ground, a look I've loved since I self-published THE GARDEN DOCTOR from 1987 through 1997. Plus their format allows for the lush visuals and videos I love and that get me psyched. I'd love it on many levels, since I am again "self publishing", that if THIS effort "took off" vs. the decade of struggle and low readership of THE GARDEN DOCTOR. Back then and now folks said it failed financially because it was too ahead of its time...they feel NOW is the time for my thoughts and practices about urban farming (back then I called it "personal agriculture") and organic gardening and Old Roses to find acceptance. I'd love it if this and my other blogs enjoy great acceptance and that I in turn see increased prosperity as a result. John

  3. WishI had that ten years of experience now in the form of The Garden Doctor!!!! Do you still have those and could you maybe republish here in the format of the blog???? I, for one, would love it! I can't stand it when I miss something!