Thursday, March 31, 2011


Without fanfare or rhetoric, I think we all know the benefits of conserving water, no matter where you live. Now that the hot weather is definitely upon us here in the Yucatan, our water usage increases dramatically.

Because of the intense heat, we shower more often, have to change clothing two or three times per day depending on personal preferences and activities, the washing machine seems to never stop going, pools, ponds and water features require high maintenance and extra water to make up for the rapid evaporation that takes place, our personal water intake increases as it essential to remain properly hydrated, and basically, everything just starts to dry out from the never-ending intense heat of summer. Every plant and shrub requires daily doses of water just to survive the heat.

At my home, we practice water conservation and recycling year round. The rinse water from the washing machine is diverted through a hose that is used to fill several buckets. This water is then used to water plants, wash down the patio, and the front sidewalk and street to help keep the dust and dirt to a minimum. I can’t tell you how much water this recycling method saves.

The rinse water from the washing machine does not, repeat, does not harm the plants! In fact, the soapy water discourages insects and other "creepie-crawlies" that would otherwise snack on your plants or become homesteaders and make a neat little nest in the plant itself.

In the kitchen sink, we keep a plastic basin to catch all water coming from the tap and to wash dishes in. We rinse our dishes with water direct from the faucet and the rinse water is then caught in the plastic basin and recycled. When the basin is full, it is emptied into a large bucket and that water is used to water the plants with. Any and all water used in the kitchen is recycled in this manner. Fruits and vegetables are soaked in water with an iodine-based antibacterial (Microdyn) added to the water to kill any lingering bacteria. This water is also recycled and becomes a cool refreshing drink for the plants!

Recently, we noticed something growing out of the dwarf bouganvilla plant. (I’m not sure how to correctly spell bouganvilla and when I looked it up, I couldn’t find it!!) It looked like something other than a weed so it was left alone to see what might become of it. Low and behold, it was a tomato plant! It was not planted purposefully, but apparently a seed or two was in the basin that was transferred to a bucket and that water was then used to water the plant. The seed took, and I will soon be enjoying a fresh tomato salad from the garden! Like I said, conserving and recycling water can be fruitful. Here’s a picture to prove it!

(And by the way, the tomato is a fruit, not a vegetable!)


  1. Bravo! Your water conservation efforts are certainly commendable, and I hope they are as rewarding for you as they sound. I still live in a Western state (Colorado) that has perpetual water issues, and I will try to adopt some of your methods. Thanks for sharing them.

  2. Great tips for low-tech water conservation. Do you have to use any special laundry soap to avoid harming the plants?

  3. Stan: You are more than welcome. Once you get used to using your water for the second time, it becomes a routine and is really hassle free! Good luck!

    Debbie: No special laundry detergent is required. You cannot use any chlorine bleach water for watering, but can use it for cleaning outdoor areas. When I lived in Florida, an old Florida native (cracker) told me to spray my plants and shrubs with soapy water and I would never have insect issues. I did, and it worked. I bought a small plastice spray bottle at the Dollar Store, added water and some liquid detergent, and can honestly say I never had insect issues! Try that little trick, too!

    Good luck to all and happy gardening and I think it's great that you'll both consider conserving and recycling water. Way to go!!

  4. How cool! And even cooler, it's not one of the Roma tomatoes so common there.

  5. This is amazing, Merida! Yes, recycling water can be really beneficial, both environmentally and personally. Just look at how you made tomatoes grow from your plant. Most plants do not grow much in hot weather because of dehydration, but you proved that water recycling works. Way to go! You might also want to try saving rainwater next season. Hehe!