Is your family working towards better self-sufficiency by creating your first vegetable garden or turning the land around your house into a real, working farm? You’re in good company. Friends of ours in the seed business tell us that vegetable seed sales went through the roof this spring – double or triple what they’ve been in previous years. Americans are coming to the smart and sane realization that food plants in the yard equal dinner on the table, even in the slimmest of times, and here in the Reskills column of VeganReader.com, we are trying to give you as many tips as we can for successful homestead living. Today, let’s talk about safe garden hoses!
So, you’ve got your compost pile, layered with your organic vegetable wastes and cuttings, trimmings, mowings and clippings from your land. You’ve gotten clear on the fact that your soil is your most precious possession. You’ve purchased and planted organic seed or starts. Perhaps you’ve companion planted with herbs and flowers that bring the right birds and insects to your yard while keeping less-wanted visitors in good balance. You’ve turned up your nose at the pesticides, insecticides and fungicides that promise fine living but deliver ruin to the health of all creatures and our environment. You’re learning something new every day and doing all you can to grow the safest, tastiest, most nutritious organic food you’ve ever eaten…and then you take a look at that old green hose in your hand and something gives you pause.
The scenario I’ve just described is the very one in which I found myself some time ago. Here I was, going to all this trouble to raise healthy fruits and vegetables, and I realized I was pouring lead on them every time I watered. Any regular garden hose is likely to contain lead, and this means you are contaminating your food with the very substance that can cause the dreadful outcome of lead poisoning. Chronic exposure to lead causes a host of serious problems: learning disorders, reproductive malfunction, mental disorders, anemia, digestive distress and memory loss. Certainly, this is not what you want to harvest from your labors in painstakingly building an organic family farm! So, what can you do to protect yourself and your loved ones from lead-tainted garden hose water?
Purchase a Drinking Water Approved, Lead-Free hose! That seems like a no-brainer, but I think most of just don’t look critically enough at our garden hoses. All our lives, we’ve seen those typical green hoses. Some of us (not me, as my Mother would never allow it) may even have drunk from garden hoses. It’s not safe to do so, under any circumstances, and replacing your conventional hoses with non toxic drinking water hoses is one of the smartest things you may do this year on your small farm.
Where we live, the local hardware and home improvement stores are well-stocked with regular garden hoses, but shining out amongst them is this special white model, labeled as Drinking Water Approved, FDA sanctioned and RoHS compliant. The fine print reads: contains less than one-tenth of 1% lead by weight in homogeneous material. My research has indicated that this type of hose is the best and safest we can find and I hope you will be able to purchase a similar one locally or on the web. It just makes sense to take every precaution you can to ensure that your method of irrigation is a safe as possible.
And, while we’re on the subject of water…have you got chlorine in yours? Most city water in the United States is chlorinated, and if you’re on a communal well over which you don’t have direct control, chances are, your water may be chlorinated, too. Organic farmers must remove the chlorine from their irrigation water, and if you’re going organic on your little farm, you need to find a way to do this, too. Despite its widespread use, chlorine is incredibly toxic and has been linked to everything from cancer to heart attacks. Unfortunately, few cities in our country have had the knowledge, resources or guts to move beyond chlorine to safer water processing methods. Because of this, I urge you to investigate this issue and discover a way to filter chlorine out of your garden hose water. Chlorine is not only toxic to humans – it kills the vital microbes in your soil that promote plant growth. Pretty crummy!
We purchased a garden hose filter from Pure Water Products when we started our farm here, and we regularly replace the insert in it in order to remove as much of the chlorine as possible from our well water which, unfortunately, the landlord who owns the communal well treats periodically with chlorine. Our landlord is unfortunately unable to see the sense of providing safer water for her tenants, and so we’ve had to take this responsibility on ourselves to ensure that the water coming from the well into our home and onto our farm is as non-toxic as possible.
Regular readers here know that we are modest income family. We definitely do not have money to throw around, but when it comes to safety issues in our growing habits, we will find the money to do what we feel will be the healthiest for ourselves and for everyone who eats our produce. I hope you will give some thought to the safety of your water this week, and that the tips we’ve given will pay off for you on the farm and on the table.
The care we’re taking certainly seems to be paying off for us! Just take a look at these gorgeous raspberries that have ripened this week. We have never seen such HUGE berries anywhere. A single one is a mouthful! It’s nice to know that we’ve removed both lead and chlorine from the picture and that these luscious, home grown fruits are truly safe to eat.
Do you have a safe garden hose or water safety story to share? We’d love to hear it.