Grey Water – The Valuable Resource You May Not Be Using

I drove up over the Pennines in mid-July and was shocked to see that the reservoirs are almost bone dry. I don’t recall seeing any targeted warnings from my water company so far this year, and I’m surprised because there is pretty much nothing left up in the hills. Why I was shocked I don’t know. It looks like this every summer. But it is a reminder that water is not infinite.

Torside Reservoir, almost a field

June and July have been pretty warm by Northern standards. Although I wouldn’t say the weather has been continuously hot, we have had very little rain here, which explains the reservoir. It means that every spare drop of grey water from my flat is now going out on my pots, as my water catchment buckets have remained dry since spring. And hey, I’m already paying for that water, so why not? I’ve managed to keep everything alive, just about, and some things seem to have positively thrived.

Towards the end of July the heavens finally opened and all feels normal again, but I still keep putting out my grey water, though now into my catchment buckets so there is spare for dry days.

This year’s planting success has been my supermarket runner beans. I harvested a few seeds from yellow sticker food and they have gone wild and seem quite tough. The bugs and butterflies seem to love them, and the pretty yellow and white flowers have quickly turned into big chunky runner beans, so this is one crop I’m going to keep up every year. Currently, I have them planted in my biggest tub, which is where my purple sprouting broccoli normally grows. I’ve been late getting that started, so I suspect the runners will be on their way out by the time my broccoli is ready to plant on. Rotational planting is a must this year as space is limited for those crops that have deeper root systems.

My strawberries have also done fairly well. The drier weather hasn’t helped produce bigger berries, and the supply has been slow and continuous – fine for one person though the season is now over for me it seems. My cherry tomatoes have also come on well again. I have about 10 plants of three varieties. I like these as they are small and bushy and high yielding, perfect for the small amount of space I hav. The green tomatoes promise much and I’m hoping to start picking sometime in August if the sun returns.

The peaks of really hot weather have, thankfully, been short-lived. Although I love it (for the most part), plants in plastic tubs don’t do so well, and I’ve had to keep a close eye on things. Unfortunately I’ve been away every time there has been a peak in the temperature, which has always left me worried about what I will find when I return but my only permanent casualty has been my sweet peas.

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