Don't Waste a Drop!

Why pay more to water your plants?

I don't know how it is where you live, but here in central Alabama, water costs a fortune. I'm an admitted cheapo, and the sight of city water running down the curb or evaporating in the hot sun makes me want to cry. I don't, of course, because I am a manly man and crying just wastes more water.

What's needed is a way to capture free water every day, even when it doesn't rain. I found it, and it's so obvious, I can't believe I overlooked it for years.

Woman Watering Potted Boxwoods with Watering Can
Van Chaplin

Everyone who lives in the hot, humid South has an air conditioner (well, except for old ladies who ask, "Would you like a sweater, dear?" in the middle of August as molten chrome drips from your car). An air conditioner does more than cool the air to a comfortable temperature. It also dehumidifies the air, which is just as important. Moisture in the air condenses into water that either drips onto the ground outside or is piped away from house.

This can be a lot of water, depending on how big your AC units are. I placed a 3-gallon bucket under the end of the pipe coming from my larger, downstairs unit. On a typically humid Alabama summer day, that bucket fills up three times a day. That's almost 10 gallons of free water (well, I still have to pay the AC bill, but the water isn't wasted.) That's more than enough to water all the potted plants that sit around my house. I empty the bucket into the watering can the first thing in the morning when it's cool and have everything watered in less than 10 minutes. Can you imagine how much city water we'd save if everybody in the South did this?

Of course, when it's been raining a lot (so far, we're at 56 inches already this year), you may think using AC water is too much of a hassle. And you don't want to leave buckets of unused water sitting around for fear of breeding mosquitoes. No problem. When this happens, I look for plants that grow under large trees. The soil there is considerably drier than under open sky. Those plants receive a welcome cocktail.

From my observations, almost nobody in my neighborhood besides me is doing this. Just wait until we have a long drought. They'll be sorry.

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