Normally in the winter months, the rainy season in SoCal, I have the gray water diverer on the washer machine in the off position so it will empty to the sewer, not the garden. Southern California usually gets plenty of rain to take care of the landscape until late March or April. This year is the earliest we have had to switch back to using grey water, since first using it back in 2007.
We have had next to nothing in the way of winter rainfall this year, and the citrus trees are starting to show signs of needing additional water. The leaves have rolled up a little, like taco shells because they are water stressed. The Improved Meyer lemon and Bearss lime look fine, but the Cara Cara and Mandarin both have some curled up leaves on the sunny side. I have read sweet oranges are less drought tolerant. Odds are, it will reduce the flowering and fruit crop on both this year. If the citrus trees look thirsty, that means the apples and stone fruits are probably needing water too, eventhough they don’t have much in the way of leaves yet to show it. Therefore, it is time to start moving my greywatering hose around from one mulch basin to another. I also put in a request to the city today for a mulch delivery so I can top off with a thicker layer. The chickens will have a field day with it!
I normally try to be conscientious about not wasting too much fresh water on the landscape, but this year the governor has announced that Californians need to use at least 20% less water. That means we will have to use even less than we normally do. I will probably let both the front and back lawns die. Sorry about that chickens; they love the grass! Maybe the fluffier mulched ground will make up for it? Sadly, I also plan to remove some of my less waterwise edibles, like my low chill Sunshine Blue Blueberries. I can always easily replant those if water is plentiful again in the future. I am worried about my raspberries. I have yet to try grey water on them; this year will be first. If they can’t take it, they will also have to go temporarily. I am glad we have our grey water divertor valve for the washer machine so at least my mature fruit trees won’t die.
I have tried a lot of different brands of biodegradable laundry detergent to use with the grey water system, and I am certainly not loyal to just one. This week, I bought one I haven’t tried before from Trader Joes that my hubby suggested we try. Trader Joes used to sell one called Ecos, but I don’t know if this is the same one just with a TJs label. Have any of you used this detergent? And does it clean well? Or do you have a favorite Biodegradable or Bio-compatible detergent?