Earlier this week I attended the Get Water Smart Workshop hosted by Seattle Tilth and Jessi Bloom (yes, the irony of her last name was not lost on me) of N.W. Bloom. When I walked into the room, Maren Neldam from Seattle Tilth was walking the group through a pollutant runoff watershed model to demonstrate how different chemicals and rain water follow gravity into the Puget Sound Watershed. She then added ‘sponge shaped’ habitat to demonstrate how soil that collects runoff literally soaks up the water and chemical liquid mixture buffering it from running directly into the water system.
Once we were all back in our seats, Jessi Bloom presented on Water Smart Gardening practices. The key takeaways for me were as follows:
- Goal is to slow down the water runoff process by using it as many different times as possible before it flows into the Puget Sound. She used an example of runoff from her barn gathering in a cistern, then flowing into a duck/chicken water trough, then into a rain garden. I also discovered a new program being tested by the Port of Seattle called Splash Boxx, an experimental garden in a boxcar.
- We walked outside to see what appeared to be a perfect rain garden set up, but was not being used for that purpose, at the Washington Park Arboretum. She talked about ‘following the rules that nature has set’ by allowing the earth to act as a filter for water and different plants that could be used in a rain garden. Programs, such as 12,000 Rain Gardens, allow people to help build this type of landscaping providing hands on experience while helping others before implementing one yourself. She recommended doing it yourself because of the glut of unprofessional service providers currently ‘saturating’ the market. She also shared the importance of conducting a perc test along with some landscaping worst case scenarios if one is not conducted.
- Her insight on perennial edibles and the benefits of using native plants for vegetable gardening inspired me to slightly shift my focus on my gardening final project. These plants do not require as much work, require less fertilizers and pesticides, are mostly drought tolerant, and do not need as much water. Although we’ve addressed these topics in class, I had not yet incorporated these practices into my project.
- Bioremediation was a ‘new word to me’ which was brought up during the Q&A portion of her presentation. It’s a waste management technique used to clean up toxic environmental waste. Apparently mushrooms can be used through this process to break down toxins eventually turning them into carbon dioxide and water.
- Pervious pavers and porous concrete were referenced several times as a tool to aid in limiting water runoff.
As the presentation wrapped up, Maren from Seattle Tilth offered up a box of water saving tools as take away schwag from the event. I personally have used the shower timer every day since the presentation. The water bottle for the toilet tank has been replaced with bricks from my garden in all toilets within our household, and the floating row cover is currently in place over one of my garden beds to keep the critters from eating my seeds. All perfect takeaways to aid me in reducing my own water footprint at home.