Greywater Fed Tomato Plant Takes Over The World

Homegrown Neighbor Here:

So a few months ago Mr. Homegrown helped me install a simple ‘laundry to landscape’ greywater system. Most of the plants that get watered by the system didn’t get much water before and were just barely surviving. There are several fruit trees, a rhubarb plant and an assortment of perennial herbs lining a narrow strip of land along the side of the house. Now, the plants getting fed by the greywater are going bonkers.

Last week the area became impassable it was so overgrown. The path along the side of the house had disappeared. I have the laundry water going to the sewer half the time because I don’t want to overwater. That and my roommate bought some non-greywater friendly soap. So I really only run one or two loads of laundry a week into the yard. But that has been more than enough.

Yesterday I hacked my way through the overgrowth and tried to train the rampant cherry tomato plant. The tomatoes are delicious. I eat them constantly when I’m in the yard and pawn them off on friends and family whenever I can. Still, there are tomatoes in areas that I can no longer get too. The tomato plant has killed my apple tree I think. I can’t see the apple tree under it anymore. The tomato plant is about eight feet tall and equally wide. It is reaching for the roof, using the poor buried apple tree as its support. I tried to photograph the madness, but it just looks like an indeterminable tangle and doesn’t really show what is going on.

But now I have reclaimed a path along the side of the house. If just an occasional load of laundry can provide such a boost to this little patch of land, I wonder what all of the other water used in the house could do. I would have to get rid of all of the low-water and native plantings and go tropical! It just goes to show how much water we use in our homes every day and don’t really think about where it goes. Eventually I would love for all of the water from our showers and sinks to go to the yard as well, but for now, the washing machine is creating a little tropical oasis and that’s plenty.

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  1. Our landry drainage hose is connected to the wall and goes right outside. I don’t have any other option for where it goes. It’s on the north side of the house though and I’ve never bothered planting anything there-there was ivy when we moved in and it just keeps growing. It hasn’t expanded though. I’d like to be able to run it to our apricot tree and see what happens.

  2. @Red:

    When using laundry water you have to use a laundry detergent formulated specifically for greywater. Otherwise, yes, there will be a problem with the residue in the soil. You also have to lay aside bleach and other laundry additives, even ones which are considered eco friendly, like baking soda or oxygen bleach. We either use Oasis detergent or soap nuts.

  3. The problem with even the “green” and “eco friendly” laundry detergents is that they contain salts. Salts of course, are toxic to plants. And it is especially troublesome in low rainfall areas like L.A. as the soil rarely gets flushed out. I either use Oasis detergent or just a little plain white vinegar.

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