So is brown the new green? I think not! Cities in Southern California are covering their greenscapes with brown mulch chips and putting out cute little signs proclaiming “brown is the new green”, encouraging people to change their landscaping over to brown mulch chips, dirt and rocks.
Well, it’s not pretty in Phoenix or Palm Desert, and it’s not pretty in the city. Coming from the Northern Arizona area, where it is very dry and it is a struggle to get anything to grow, brown is not green in any way, shape or form. Brown is brown. It’s dirt. Dirt blows around and makes the air all dusty. Green absorbs carbon dioxide and greenhouse gasses and converts them back into oxygen, which it puts back into the air. As our city’s air quality gets worse, due to supposed global warming, it is not more brown, but more green that is needed to convert the greenhouse gasses caused by our asphalt, concrete, and industry back into oxygen. More green, not less.
Now, I’m not advocating water-hogging lawns. But trees, shade, drought tolerant plants, lavender, food plants, fruit trees. Even though fruit trees and vegetable gardens use a lot of water, they are also giving back in the form of food, edibles. Herbs and flowers are also useful, as well as attractive. That’s much more efficient than a lawn. I’m also not advocating getting rid of green grass entirely, just cut back on it. We took a walk down in the beach cities a couple of days ago and a lot of homes had strips of grass in geometric patterns on their driveways. Instead of front lawns. And it looked great!
Do we really need so many golf courses? At the expense of letting our public parks go brown? I do not see that as heroic, nor as conserving water. We have the technology to inexpensively filter gray water into irrigation water. With all the hotels, homes, and businesses with copious amounts of gray water, there would be more than enough to filter and recycle back to flushing toilets and watering public greenspaces, as well as golf courses. Why not give tax credits to retrofit homes and businesses to filter and recycle their gray water?
So what are solutions to brown is the new green? Well, we water on our watering days, we reuse graywater, with one of the many legal systems, several of which can be installed by the homeowner without any permits required. And, if you run the gray water through a bucket of sand and gravel, it takes out a lot of the junk that is not so good for the plants and the lawn that you’re watering. Doing dishes and washing veggies in a dishpan and dumping that water on the yard. Putting in drought tolerant plants and using that brown (or red, or green) mulch. Or even the free mulch that Calmet gives away several times a year. Retrofitting your home with a gray water recycling system.
What would your suggest?
What do you do when water doesn’t run through the pipes? We’re getting lots of practice with that one right now. Most people on city water just turn on the faucet and are rewarded with a pressurized flow. Out in the country and on the road, however, things get a little bit different.
At the Arizona homestead, we haul water and pump it into a 2500 gallon storage tank. From there, it runs through pipes to the water pump, then the pressure tank, and ultimately, the house. Unless a pipe breaks. Or the main valve breaks. Luckily, the main valve broke in the closed position. Unfortunately, the tank was full at the time. Consequently, I have not yet replaced the valve, mainly because that would involve draining all the water. Therefore, at the moment, we are filling jugs from the tank, for use in the house. This begets a whole new, yet old, definition of running water.
Kitchen sink supply:
We have even splurged on a down-home swimming pool:
Still, the tank remains half-full. We’ll get there. Makes for good water conservation practices.
In the mobile homestead when water doesn’t run, due to a dead battery or converter, as is currently the case, we do pretty much the same thing. We just refill our water jugs from the drain valve on the fresh water tank.
Kitchen sink supply:
So all this has me thinking about what we would do at the urban homestead when water doesn’t run. First we would need a water supply. Probably 55 gallon drums. Then the rest would be just as above. We would simply have to train our city family to reuse the gray water for flushing and such. But probably, if it came to it, they would do just fine.
What will you do when water doesn’t run?
This is quickly becoming my favorite go-to book for anything and everything that can be done with a 5 gallon bucket. Of course, I already was familiar with the composting toilet, the washing machine and the planters. This book contains more than 50 projects for around the homestead (and the home) that can be completed with 5 gallon buckets! Including a trash compactor, wine rack, and toddler swing.
I have currently gathered supplies for making the manual washing machine – handy for the rv or any off-grid situation, and the rolling composter – a design that I think is much more efficient for our rving homestead. I just need the time to make them. Be sure that I will be posting pictures and such when I do! Inspired by, but not included in the book, is a design for a spin-dryer for clothes, that I am going to experiment with. Details to follow when I get to that one.
All the projects in the 5 Gallon Bucket Book come with detailed instructions and lots of pictures. Also supply lists for each project and how it is supposed to work and be used when it’s done. Many of the projects are perfect for off-grid applications; some use electricity. The 5 Gallon Bucket Book is a great investment for any do-it-yourselfer looking for more economical solutions to everyday issues in the home and garden. With this book and a few simple tools, you can make dozens of practical upgrades to your homestead.
The 5 Gallon Bucket Book, by Chris Peterson (c)2015 by Quarto Publishing Group http://www.quartoknows.com/books/9780760347898/5-Gallon-Bucket-Book.html Paperback, $19.99
Thanks to the good folks at Quarto Publishing for providing me with a free review copy of this book. No other compensation was received for this review.
Sometimes the weather just does what you want it to do around here. It rained Monday night most of the night and stayed nice and cool all day Tuesday. We propped the gutters up to drain into the buckets and they all got filled. Yeah! Our city well water (which we haul out to the homestead) is so hard, the plants eventually seem to stop responding to it. So having that rainwater really is a boost to the garden.
Mrs. D has her wood permit now, so we’ll start bringing in our fuelwood tomorrow. Mrs. D, being the delicate female that she is (tongue in cheek), can only handle a couple hours of cutting at a time, so this project will take until the forest closes to woodcutting in December. This will make for many hours of romping through the woods with L’il Homesteader, as well as numerous Teddy Bear Picnics. Such a good life it is!