Dry season gardening – re-using water “greywater”

The dry season is here!  Lack of rain means a lot less water for gardening so here are some things I am doing to re-use water.

Used water is called “grey-water”.  This refers to water used for dishes, showers, washing clothes etc, but NOT toilet water which is called black water and is not safe for using on plants.  If you are re-using greywater for plants, you will need to think carefully about which soaps you are using on your dishes, on your body and for your clothes.  Some soaps are too strong and will kill your plants.  I use Nigerian Black Soap for all these things.  It is natural, local, and can be bought “to measure” meaning its not packaged but measured out into my re-usable cloth bags.


Catching water outside the kitchen window.  This was a simple matter of disconnecting the pipe to catch and re-use soapy water used for washing dishes.


IMG_7958-Optimized  Catching water outside the bathroom.  This was a trickier matter as we had to smash a concrete surround.  However, since the bathroom is used for handwashing and showers regularly, there is a lot of water just going underground to a “soakaway” so its been a very worthwhile effort.  NOTE: this is not catching toilet water (black water) but only handwashing and shower water.  Actually, we don’t even use a flush toilet, see my article on our dry compost toilet here:


IMG_7959-Optimized This bucket catches water from the outpipe of the washing machine.  I use black soap – which does not make the clothes black, like some people ask me!

Conserving water 

Given that I don’t have a lot of water, I want to make sure that every drop reaches the plant.

IMG_7963-Optimized I built up the soil in a pile around each plant I want to get through the dry season.  That means when I pour the water into the centre, the high walls keep it there and it can soak directly to the roots.





IMG_7964-Optimized  The centre of the mound is covered with dried grass so that the sun cannot evaporate the water.  In fact, it stays moist and cool under there throughout the day.



IMG_7956-Optimized  I recently planted some tomato seeds.  Often in farming here, people pile up the soil high into  ridges and plant into them.   Well, for dry season I did the opposite.  I dug down twice as deep as I needed for the tomato seeds, planted the seeds, and then only put half of the soil back, so that the seeds are down in a ditch.  That way the water stays down in the ditch and gets directly to the seeds.  I also covered with some dried grass so that the sun doesn’t evaporate the water.


Dry season watering:

Every drop counts – use it twice, don’t waste it and make sure it all stays where you want it to stay!


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