New Hobby

New Hobby

For those of you who may have seen the photograph above and raised an eyebrow in wonder at the paraphernalia therein ~ no, I have not started distilling my own moonshine in the back woods of Waterloo County.

It seems, when the condo my family and I have been renting over the past year was designed, it’s owners were given a selection of “upgrades” to the basic construction by the developers.   It is my observation that the building of new homes in most North American suburbs these days is very much akin to the assembly of fast-food combos ~ and probably made with  similar amounts of chipboard, glue and vinyl.

Consumers get their basic McNutrition in Combo 1, 2 or 3  ~ but for a few cents more they can Supersize their meal-deal with Biggie Fries and an extra Large Coke.  In similar fashion, one’s $X hundred-thousand dollar plus, primarily plastic dwelling can be upgraded further with various additional perks ~ wood laminate (that is….melamine resin derived from formaldehyde…ie plastic!!) flooring, poly fiber wall to wall carpet (more plastic!), or synthetic country kitchen cupboards (more plastic!).  In the end, it hurts me to think of consumers paying so much money for plastic, prefab homes.

In any event ~ our very sweet condo owners opted for a selection of lovely aesthetic up-grades but did not choose a hard water faucet for the kitchen sink as one of them.     In our area of South Western Ontario, water is very hard.  Though hard water is not harmful to the health, left untreated, it leaves very heavy and corrosive mineral deposits in piping and sinks.   Most homes in our area are outfitted with a water softening unit, frequently filled with rock salt that dissolves into the water,  gradually breaking down the minerals.   “Back in the day”, homes with water-softeners also had a separate faucet for hard water, intended for use in drinking, cooking or plant watering.   Seems now that such a faucet is a luxury one must pay extra for when having their house built and thus, it was one “up-grade” our land lords did not think was very necessary to select for their rental property.

My family and I were initially neither here-nor-there about the faucet either, until last autumn when I inherited all of my mothers house plants after her passing.   Many of the little leafy friends were very old ~ some having been inherited by my own mum from her mother (who died back in 1998) or my paternal grandmother who passed way in 1994.  Initial watering with soft, salt-laden tap water quickly began to discolour many of the plants leaves, wilting the shoots of others and worrying me tremendously.

Immediately, I switched to using hard water from the only source available to us through an obscure outdoor water facet  located under our back deck.    Somewhat inconvenient to reach with watering cans, it was still worth the uncomfortable crouching to secure water our plants favoured better that provided by our indoor tap.   Soon, a few feet of hose stretching up onto our deck near the kitchen doors made the indoor plant watering task even easier….until winter arrived.

Forced to winterize in mid-November and drain the out-door pipes to keep them from freezing, I was left without a hard water source and wondered what was to become of my beloved houseplants with only a diet of soft water during the long, frigid season that loomed.

Reflecting upon my rain harvesting in Pakistan, I quickly gathered up as many buckets, pails and containers as I could to begin collecting the last of the season’s rainfall.   Reused 1 gallon glass apple cider bottles worked as great storage for the precipitation and once again, we had a pantry of palatable water for our thirsty plants.

As rain turned to snow in early December, I began shoveling the back deck into buckets then allowing the slush to melt in our kitchen before straining it into the cider jugs (with a tin funnel intended for automotive use) for future watering.

So, what may seem like a hobby in the making of good ol’ white lightening from the photo above is, in fact, only an innocent, suburban effort at rain harvesting for the sake of saving several small houseplants, and the sentimental affection I have for them.   Well, at least that’s my story…and I’m sticking to it officer.

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Categories: House, Reduce Reuse Recycle, Simple Living, Struggles & Setbacks

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7 thoughts on “New Hobby

  1. Zara

    Interesting…I also use rainwater for my plants but have to say this method is pretty sophisticated for me. I just use an old big buckets and put it under the gutter and that’s it 🙂 My plants love it, I know because never before when I watered them with water from the pipe they didn’t grow during the winter time. Just surviving. Now they grow in their all glory :))) I’m glad you share all these ideas. Although I stil suffer with food reciclyng beacuse I never made a proper container (little bit confusing and hard for women hands) it is great when there are people out there who care and want to show their experiences so we could see their and improve our own. Many thanx !

  2. Zara

    an old bucketS….good Lord !!! O:) sorry for mistakes it’s happening even to the best lol

  3. No sophistication in my efforts…just a shovel, funnel and jug. Your efforts are wonderful I am sure, as the thriving “glory” of your houseplants testifies. In terms of food scrap recycling, never underestimate the ability of your hands… an old Rubbermade bin or large plastic/tin garbage can can be a wonderful start to an indoor (or balcony) compost device. Just fill it half way with soil, go to a field on a rainy day and dig out some worms to bring home with you. They, and the power of nature, will do the rest. You may not be able to add all your veggie scraps, but at least some.

  4. Zara

    Oh my God! Really didn’t know that regular garden worms can serve. Always thought I have to order some special kind. And have no idea from who. In the place where I live this subject is not well known, only old fashion gardening is actual. Don’t know anyone else who recycle or even think about it. Trust me every time I go to collect a rainwater, some neighbors staring through windows “what does she /read freak/ doing 🙂 but never mind, that’s another subject. Anyway I have one pot for food remains on my balcony, it was just a try to see how all that’s going. The main problem was, I had no idea how to make drainage part, and all layers I saw on photos from some books. Especially now when is winter. So for now I’m afraid I have to be content with birds feeder :/ and left the food recycling for spring 😦
    And for the house plants, really have no idea have I just imagined they grow better after I stop watered them with chlorine water but it is really huge difference. All that white spots on leaves are gone and they just grow, grow ….. and make me happy :))))

  5. Mzaman

    Thanks Dawud, a beautiful post demonstrating how sustainable living is equally necessary and equally incomprehensible in fasting dissloving plastic habitats. The longevity of which lasts, unfortunately, as long as their plastic sheen. Just as reusing, reharvesting and remaking, the old guard of building, loose currency to ‘prefab’ reasoning, so to are we the lesser for it. You have demonstrated that such ways of constructing takespains to reserve a common will, common weal and common sense. Thank you again for probing us to consider the subtleties found in the seeming banality of life.

  6. You remind me of my father. He collects rainwater each monsoon season here in Pakistan. But since we live in a city with relatively higher amounts of pollution, he makes sure to let the rain go on for a while before collecting it in tubs, containers, pots etc. This way the water is cleaner.
    It was lovely to read this. There is a lot of beauty in living simply.
    Salaam.

  7. yacoob

    Is it helping? I’d imagine the rain water is also much softer than Waterloo tap water. Also hard water is not only not bad for your health but actually much better for it! 🙂

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