Going Back to Greywatering [2014 Update]

Going Back to Greywatering [2014 Update]

My citrus trees are a little stressed and need more water. This leave curling or rolling is sometimes referred to as “Cigar Leaf Curling” on citrus.

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!

grey water graywatering detergent buy
My post it note warning on the washer machine to make sure no other family members accidentally hurt the fruit trees by adding something toxic to the grey water going out to the yard.

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?

biodegradable detergent for greywater
Biodegradable laundry detergent is necessary when watering with grey water. Biocompatible detergent is even better, but I don’t want to spend a fortune on shipping laundry detergent. So far, we have had no adverse effects on the landscape using just biodegradable detergents, but some don’t clean as well as others. We have tried many varieties.

Update March 2016: I only bought this detergent once. I wasn’t all that happy with its cleaning. I primarily use Ecos now a days. I usually buy a two pack of extra large bottles from Coscto for $35 including shipping for 420 small loads. I don’t get the one with enzymes. It is listed as safe for greywatering, but Oasis is still the better choice for biocompatible, but its also the most expensive around here. I can get that one at our local Lazy Acres for about $25 a gallon and that washes about 120 small loads.

2 thoughts on “Going Back to Greywatering [2014 Update]

  1. Ah, that’s why the leaves on my Dorset apples were curling, they needed water?! I knew there was something wrong, but my husband insisted that they were fine – silly man ; ) They’re fine now, and we’re looking forward to our first crop. Alas, I don’t have a grey water option for my washer : (

  2. Would love to hear how this detergent is working out for you– I want to start using my laundry grey water as well, but I haven’t bought suitable detergent yet. We did get about 200 gallons in our rain barrels from the last storm a few weeks ago, but not sure how long that will last– I’ve used a bunch of it already keeping my in-ground seedlings damp. I picked up a spice zee nectaplum from H&H like you recommended, can’t wait for a few years to pass so I can enjoy it 🙂

I would love to know what you think about this.

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