Enjoyed your book,

by Claudia McBride
(Claremore, OK, U.S.A.)

Hi! My name is Claudia McBride. I live in the state of Oklahoma in the U.S. I live in the eastern part of the state which usually gets plenty of rain but that has been slowly changing. Each year we seem to have less rain--except this year when we had massive flooding throughout the state and have continued to have rain even during the months when we are usually bone dry. None of which fools me into thinking we aren't going to continue to become drier and drier in our area. So my partner and I when we needed to have some work done on our old house made it a point to put in a composting toilet and divert the showers and bathroom sinks to gray water lines. One line goes out to our small orchard; the other goes out to our garden beds--or did until we raised out raised beds even higher by using pallets turned on end and fastened together at the corners, then filled halfway with plastic boxes and bottles, wood chips from friendly tree service that has done work for us and dropped them off for free, and then compost from our bins. We both hit the 70 mark this past year and decided it was getting too hard to get up and down even with raise beds. I have been trying to decide what to do about the gray water line since we can use it to water the taller beds. Your book suggests to me create a wetlands garden with this line. Since only showers and wash basins are on the gray water line we've never felt any need to filter them. The one on the orchard we move regularly from tree to tree. It's a 100 foot length of 1 1/4 inch flexible PVC. Not many people know about flexible PVC and it's a bit hard to get but it's a very useful product. It will bend and curve the way regular PVC won't but it glues together just the same way PVC does. This makes it easy to move it from tree to tree. Of course, a hose would have been cheaper but the fall from the house to the orchard isn't great and the larger diameter drains the water more easily. We sometimes have several day of below freezing weather. When that happens any water left in the gray water hoses can freeze, then, of course, they can't drain, so we make sure to drain them before a freeze is due. This year we will dig trenches for the hoses and insulate them with hay and see if that will keep the lines from freezing except when the temperature is extremely cold.

Have you considered using Rubbermaid livestock watering troughs for your grow beds? We used to use 500 gal. tanks like that for fish tanks. You can drill through them to plumb them, especially if you use bulkhead fittings. Bulkhead fittings are another slightly costly item but really handy. They are PVC fitting that fits on both side of an opening in a tank or barrel, etc. and has a gasket on both sides that will keep fluids from leaking out the opening without having to use silicon or other sealants. Very handy. Very handy. Livestock tanks and bulkhead fittings are both available from Amazon. Bio-balls would make a great filter medium if they weren't prohibitively expensive. If you could find aquarium owners who use them who are getting rid of them and get them for free they would make a good addition to your filter material. Just a few suggestion I thought of while reading your excellent and inspiring book. I'm also greatly enjoying your website and looking forward to perusing it.

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Aug 30, 2019
I wish you success
by: Caroline

Thank you for sharing these interesting features of your system. I hope to hear more about it. As I said, its sounds as if you have a book or two in you !

Aug 26, 2019
Height of beds
by: Claudia

Dear Caroline,
I did indeed make note of the height the beds could be above the gray water line (35 cm or 14 in.) but our beds are much deeper than that and since we chose to fill the lower part of the space with inert plastic and wood chips, in order to use less soil, it wouldn't allow the grey water to wick through to the soil. But we have room enough that I can use the 50 ft. gray water line to run to a new wetland bed that I will create at ground level, where we can grow water-loving plants and create a habitat for nature. This has meant we have sacrificed the benefit of watering our garden with gray water for the convenience of not having to get down to work in the garden (very nice as we get older) but since my next project after I finish building the new chicken house is to put in a water catchment system, that should provide plenty of water for the all the gardens.

And may I just say, I am enjoying your website tremendously. It's always good to find like-minded people and to learn about new plants and different ways of doing things.

Aug 25, 2019
The depth of bed issue
by: Caroline

Dear Claudia

From what you said, I interpret that you have re-thought the height issue after reading my book. You probably noticed the bit of information I'm going to mention here, so forgive me if I'm overstating the case. I didn't repeat it often, so I'm just repeating it here, because perhaps it may help you with your higher beds, and benefit others too. The depth of soil above the grey water level can be up to 35 cm or 14 inches, and capillary forces, and root depth will still insure adequate water supply for the average vegetable crop.


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