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It’s been a beautiful, sunny and dry summer out here in Newfoundland.  I didn’t realize that it could be so dry out here!  So dry that there’s actually a total ban on the outside use of water, including the watering of lawns, vegetables, shrubs, trees, etc in Mount Pearl, St. John’s and the surrounding area. In addition, Mount Pearl has a year-round conservation order, which limits the times that one can water their lawn with a sprinkler, etc.

I’m glad that the Mount Pearl takes water conservation seriously. I think installing water meters on all of the homes would help too.

We’ve been thinking a lot about our water usage in the last few weeks and have done a few things of our own.

1.  Rain barrel — we’ve been looking to purchase a rain barrel to help with the watering of our garden.  They run around $100, so to be frugal, Mel made one for us out of a plastic garbage bin (new, of course!), mesh screen, a water spout and silicon (came to about $20 total). Mel plans to make around 3 of these for us!

2.  Flexible gutter spout extension – It’s  a plastic thingy that extends and flexes, which you can use to divert the water from your gutter to your garden or into the rain barrel (rather than the water just draining onto our driveway, as it was doing previously). $20 at Kent’s.

3. Low flow showerhead – We had this on our last place in Calgary, but I’ll admit we didn’t bother to replace the showerhead until yesterday. They run about $14 at Canadian Tire.

4. Selective toilet flushing – For a while, we’ve been practicing the “if it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down”.

5.  Low flow toilet – We had one installed in our last place, but we haven’t purchased one yet for this home. We plan to do this soon. They are currently on sale at Kent’s for about $150.

6.  Use of greywater —  This one is new for us.  For a couple of days, we put a large bowl in the bathroom and kitchen sinks and when the bowl filled up, we used the water to water our flower and vegetable garden. You can also save the water in your bath, bail it out and do the same thing. When we started doing this, we realized how much water is used in our household without a second thought.

You can also use greywater to flush your toilets (i.e., pouring greywater down the toilet to flush it). We didn’t collect enough greywater to try this, but I heard that this works.

Anyway, these are a few of the simple things that we’ve been doing to conserve water. I know that there are many more — feel free to share your stories.

Happily, it’s been a rainy weekend out here and the earth and plants are all breathing a sigh of relief. I look forward to seeing how our rain barrel worked!

This is the first time that we’ve had our very own garden and I am loving spending time in it.

Digging around in the dirt.

Breathing in the fresh air.

Talking to the trees.

Mixing up our compost.

Admiring all of the snails.

Picking the dandelions.

It feels like our own bit of heaven in our backyard.

Slowly we are putting in our touches — we have two bird feeders so far, a finch feeder and a millet/black sunflowerseed feeder.  We’ve had American goldfinches, black-capped chickadees and dark-eyed juncos visit so far. Eventually I’ll put out a suet-feeder too.

We had some perennials come up in our front garden, and we’ve planted some more perennial seeds.  The nice thing about gardening in Newfoundland is that it rains so often that you don’t need to water the garden at all.

We eventually would like to landscape the entire front yard and transform it into a xeriphytic / naturescaped area.  No more lawn.  But, we’re going to take our time to do it. In the meantime, the front lawn has been completely overtaken by dandelions.  There were so many dandelions that going around with the dandelion-picker was pretty futile. I tried to go around and pick all of the yellow flowers before it went to seed, but again the dandelions won. I kind of feel like dandelions are so hardy and good at growing, they deserve to take over the world. (Though I also admit that I also feel a bit like a bad neighbour with all of our dandelion seeds spreading across the neighbourhood).  I picked a few of dandelion leaves tonight and will try eating them as a green — I hear that they are very nutritrious for you. If you have any tips on how to “control” dandelions in an easy and non-chemical, let me know!

In our backyard, there was a very small vegetable garden that was started by the previous owner.  Very small.  As in a wild onion plant and another plant that we haven’t been able to identify yet. We’re slowly extending the vegetable garden and planted a couple of tomato plants, sage, thyme, peas, tomato seeds, and pepper seeds. I’ll let you know how it goes. I’m pretty excited about it. I don’t know anything about gardening and I’m also pretty lazy about it — I want to see what will grow with minimal effort and will grow more of whatever grows well over the years.

Eventually I’d love to turn most of our lawn into a vegetable garden. But, again we’re starting small and will slowly build. It’s pretty exciting…

Alex enjoys his time in the backyard as well — digging in the dirt — he calls it “his dirt”, pushing his toy lawnmower and riding his tricycle around.

We purchased an old-fashioned push lawnmower — the non-gas / non-electric type. Mel’s been doing the mowing and he says that it works pretty well. You need to exert a bit more force than with the electric/gas type, but it’s non-polluting and quiet and does the job! We highly recommend it.

One of my most recent joys has been hanging up laundry to dry on a clothesline. It may sound funny, but I get a lot of joy and satisfaction from this activity. It’s enjoyable to spend the time outside, it saves energy and money, and it’s good for the environment. I love it.

It’s new to me because I’ve never had a clothesline before (well, actually one of our places did, but it was when Alex was a newborn and the last thing that I wanted to do at the time was to spend extra time hanging up clothes out on the line).

Anyway, now that I’ve started to do it, I love doing it. And, I also love the fact that many people in Newfoundland also hang their clothes out to dry. I love that it’s part of the consciousness out here.

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