We talk about Water Consumption quite often and we discuss the usage of water run off and rain water collection, but what about using rain water for watering your tomatoes and basil and other edible plants? Is that good for you?
In the Organic Gardening’s August/September Issue, a Falls Church resident asks a great question: “Is there a potential problem with using the water that drains off of [asphalt shingles]? Should I periodically drain out all of the water to clean out the sediment in the bottom of the rain barrel?”
He was asking this because he’s been collecting water in his rain barrels that comes straight off of his roof to water his edible garden. I guess he was thinking it was like watering his garden with water from the pavement from the very dirty ground and then eating the produce and how healthy could that be? The gurus from the Organic gardener say that the powers that be- mainly the councils of the environment of NYC say that you can’t compare the rain and run off from one area to the rain and run off from another area, so you really can’t generalize how the water in your rain barrel is going to be and how “hazardous” it is to water with and then eat the produce.
Organic Gardening suggests these steps to minimize health hazards:
- Add a “first flush feature that will capture the fist 5-10 gallons of water that come off of your roof and hold it separately from the next rain- this would be like bird droppings, and the gravel from the asphalt run-off, etc.
- Apply water from your rain barrel to the soil around your plants rather than directly onto your plants so that the soil will act as a filter.
- Rinse your produce with clean, potable water before you eat it…
- Keep your rain barrel reasonably clean. Rinse it at the end of a growing season.
These are great, somewhat common sense tips from one of our favorite sustainable magazines, Organic Gardening! We still do know quite a bit about sustainable living and green building… ask us questions, and leave us comments, we’d love to hear from you!