Monday, March 16, 2009

Grey Water

Anonymous said:

Not sure if this is up your alley, Lee, but I've heard you shouldn't put grey water (say water from the shower that might have a bit of soap and dead skin in it) onto plants that you intend to harvest for food later, like herbs or pumpkins. If this is your sort of area, what's the deal?

The issue is that the water has more than soap and skin. It will have faecal matter, no matter how well you have wiped your bum. Blunt but true. The same applies to laundry water that has been used to was undies etc.

Related to that is the issue that this bacteria will multiply if people store the water for any length of time. The resultant soup is smelly, slimey and a hazard to children.

The counter story, and there is always a counter story, is that the plants in the vegetable garden are routinely exposed to salmonella, ecoli and other such nasties from the wind, birds and insects. If normal hygienic practices are followed, there shouldn't be a problem.

Interspersed with all this bacterial culture is the litigious culture that abounds at present; no politician is going to say 'use your grey water on your vegetables' and then face the consequences of a potential food poisoning. Far safer, politically, to say don't use it.

Me? I used grey water on my raspberries; they are not in fruit until October so no problem and they survived the summer better than they ever have. A bit sunburnt but you can't help that with watering. I also used it on some rhubarb, knowing it would be comprehensively cooked and never eaten raw. I used grey water extensively around the main garden and on all the fruit trees.

Ideally, if you need to use grey water on vegetables, you should contour your garden beds so that you can water them by running the water down a ditch between rows so that it gets directly into the soil without touching the vegetables themselves.


  1. A lovely, intelligent, politically correct and politically incorrect answer. It was great, thanks.

  2. I also liked your answer a lot - I wish they would all would be so straight to the point.


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