We have owned our home for a year and a half. We were very fortunate to get a home that didn’t need a lot of work. We have had a few things to fix and have added things to make it our own. A few of my favorite projects that make things easier everyday include our knife rack and in-cabinet garbage and pan racks we installed. We have painted and fixed up our closet but Neil always thinks we are lazy because we don’t do bigger projects.
Two things that have been on our list since we moved in were a larger rain barrel and a greywater system. With the drought in California the first few years we were married and the first year in our home both of these seemed very important. We already had a small 50 gallon rain barrel when we moved in. With the sparse rain we had in 2014 it barely helped water some of our plants. With El Niño due in 2015-2016 we knew we wanted a bigger barrel before then. We got a larger barrel, made in CA by Bushman USA, that holds over 200 gallons of water from a local homesteading store called The Urban Farmer in the East Bay. We also got our materials and kit for the grey water. Because we already had a barrel in place this was a relatively easy project to switch our the barrels and it was surprising full after one rain storm.
Neil worked on the greywater set up over a couple weekends and we are now watering our trees with our laundry water. We went to a talk by Laura Allen in Alameda and bought her book, which was great in helping us make a plan . We then explored some options and created the best design for our property with the location of laundry and landscape for the the greywater. The first step we did was install the switch and piping by the washer and down into our basement. We then took a break with some trips and just kept the switch turned to sewer. A few weekends later Neil had to dig under our concrete pathway to run piping and dug a trench through the roots of our plum trees.
One key thing to note is that in order to use greywater for your landscape you don’t want any harsh chemicals in your laundry. We installed a handy switch where we can change the output from greywater to sewer if we do need to use something in our laundry we don’t want on our landscape. We have already been using natural detergent but I had been interested in switching and using a product I heard about from KathEats called Soap Nuts. They are the small soap berries that naturally grow on sapindus mukorossi trees. The dried fruit is called saponin. They are an all natural detergent and cleanser. I bought a bag of them on amazon and have been loving them. You place 5-6 soap nuts in a small muslin drawstring bag and tie it closed. This bag is placed directly in the washing machine before the clothes. You can reuse the same soap nuts 4-7 times. My clothes still smell and look clean and I can just compost these little berries once I have done a few loads. If you are used to scented detergent just add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the muslin bag. Violà!
Are you making any updates to your home? Would you try soap nuts? I would love to hear from you!