Gray water and Ferns

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  #1  
Old 10-16-04, 03:14 AM
rajum
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Gray water and Ferns

I have just installed a gray water system for collecting waste water from showers and washing machine and would like to know if it can be used safely for watering tree ferns. I am told that ferns do not like chemical fertilisers and I am wondering what effect the phosphates from the cloth washing detergent might have on it. If cloth washing powders are harmful, could one use water from the bath instead?
 
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Old 10-16-04, 10:01 AM
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This idea while sounding good and water concious, is probably against local health code.
Gray water contains all sorts of really nasty stuff ranging from chemicals and body waste.
The phosphates will not be good for the ferns or most other plants.
Also if you use fabric softeners in your laundry they contain other things that will retard the growth of your plants. They also have been shown to contain high levels of sodium which is probably the cause of growth retardation. Very few plants like high levels of salt in their diet.
When you shower, is your shampoo, conditioner and bath soap all free of oils? These coat the root system and prevent the plants from absorbing nutrients.

According to a gardening site I visit, Gray water can be used as long as the following conditions are met and as long as it isn't against your local health code.

1) not stored for more than 24 hours as bacteria will thrive.
2) no one in the home has any type of infectious disease.
3) no cleaners containing borax are used as it is very toxic to plants.
4) dishwater is not used if it has been in contact with raw meat.
5) avoid laundry water if diapers or greasy items were washed.
6) water that has been softened as it contains high levels of sodium which is toxic to most plants.
7) make sure you have well draining soil as pooling water will create an environment in which bacteria will thrive.
8) do not spray gray water as it will spread bacteria through the air you breathe. It should only be applied through hand watering or drip irrigation.
Post back if you have further questions.
 
  #3  
Old 10-16-04, 11:33 AM
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How is your system set up? As majakdragon said, a greywater system works well if it is properly designed and used.
 
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