Garden, Supplies

Tree Water Bags Updated

Amazon Disclaimer: I am no longer going to try to be an Amazon Affiliate. So, all links I share are just for you to see what products I purchased.


I do not know if there are any long-term implications for the trunk of the tree being shaded. As for root rot, if water remains on the roots long enough to rot the roots, you may not need these bags.

  1. I had issues with these bags not draining after a couple of weeks. So, I enlarged the holes with garden staples.
  2. I removed them to mow around my trees and noticed a burl formed on one of my mystery trees AND
  3. My beautiful peach tree, which I though was suffering from our drought conditions, now has peachtree borer. I am not sure she’ll survive. I have decided to just manually water for the rest of the season. I am highly disappointed.


The first time I saw anything like this was a gentleman who designed bags like this for orchards. I was really excited then, so I’m sure you can imagine how happy I was when I saw these!

I received a 3-pack, set them up, and tried them for a week. This is how I setup the second package I bought. These are really easy to setup and use. These are designed to be used during the growing season and stored during the winter.

Each bag holds 20 gallons of water. For established trees, you fill once per week. For new trees, they recommend twice per week.

One bag is designed for a trunk between 1-inch and 4-inches. For trees larger than that, you need to zip bags together. These are fantastic and I can’t wait for my in-laws to move so I can buy some for their new trees!

Household, personal, Repair

Live and Learn – New Hot Water Heater

So, yesterday morning, I sent hubby off with a kiss. When I came back inside, I noticed a very small drop of something liquid on the floor. I thought that I might have dripped with emptying the coffee grounds, so I just wiped it up and went about my morning routine. Ten minutes later, there was more liquid, in the same spot. So, I moved the garbage can, opened the door to the hot water heater closet and there it was … water all over the floor. I threw down some towels, quickly checked the hoses, then went to You Tube. This was the first video I saw:

So, since I checked the hoses already (and the pressure relief pipe was sticking through a hole in the floor) I cut out a piece of cabinet wall and searched around to see if I could find where it was leaking from. I did … the water was coming through the control panel area. So, we needed a new water heater. O.k. What do I do now? First, I wanted to double check, so I called the former owner of the house. He couldn’t remember when he put it in but while we were chatting, he mentioned “we had one heck of a time getting it in there 20 years ago”. So, with that confirmed, back to You Tube. First, I found this one:

Then this one (figured I should immediately NOT make any mistakes so I better learn what they are):

And finally this one:

So, since we don’t have cell phones and I figured it would take a while to drain the hot water heater, I waited and priced some. I decided to go with a Rheem that was 10 gallons larger than the one we were replacing. I measured, and it was about the same height. So, I measured the pipes (for those who don’t know, the width of the pipe itself is NOT the width of the threads. My pipes are just over an inch in diameter but are technically 3/4 in pipe), made the list of things we’d need, wrote down the Model number, and went to let hubby know (I REALLY didn’t want him to show up from work, thinking he was going to relax, and be hit with this).

We went down to Home Depot, bought everything thanks to OPCC (Other People’s Credit Card … we had the cash but that is for property taxes), came home, and began. Well, I may have taken into account the height of the water heater but did not take into account the width (or weight). I ended up having to cut out more of the cabinet and ALMOST had to make a run to Ace Hardware for gas piping (it was in the way but we managed to make it work) all due to the increased width. Another thing about the width is: when I removed the old one, I just gave it a bear hug and walked it out the back door. The new one? My fingers wouldn’t even touch. AND it was heavier. So, once again, our old, free-from-a-neighbor dolly saved our bacon (and backs). I can’t tell you how many times that dolly has come in handy over the years. If anything happened to it, I would immediately go out and buy another one.

It took us 5 hours from purchase to hot water (plus a few hours today to tear out the rest of the cabinet). I still don’t know if I’m going to put a door up in front of the hot water heater (the framing would bring it out about 4 inches from the rest of the cabinets) or just spackle, paint, and call it good. So, what are the lessons I took away from this experience?

  1. Always have at least $1,000 in cash or available on a credit card for emergencies such as this.
  2. Measure everything (especially if this is a replacement) and even if you don’t think you will need a part, buy it.
  3. Unless you always have a group of big strong men (or women) around you at all times, have a dolly.
Health, Journal

Fiber and You (Leptin Resistance)

So, this isn’t a talk about poo. This is something else. Out of curiosity, I clicked on one of those paid links Facebook is now including on our home pages about the one weight loss secret for women. I sat there, listening to one of those annoying 3 minute “videos” that you can’t pause or turn down just so I could find out what the guy was preaching about. He finally (I swear, it must have been 2 minutes and 40 seconds into this thing) mentions Leptin resistance. Well, me being who I am, I hit Google. It turns out, there is such a thing and it sounds like it goes hand in hand with insulin resistance.
So, after reading about all the whole grain, less meat suggestions, I stumbled onto a study about some fancy shmancy African mango seed extract (The effect of Irvingia gabonensis seeds on body weight and blood lipids of obese subjects in Cameroon) that, according to Natural News (Reversing leptin resistance naturally), is supposed to help. My initial reaction was, “Where can I buy this stuff NOW?” until I read the entire study. The study shows fantastic results regarding obesity (more inches lost and vastly improved blood panels over those on the placebo) but the first line in the Discussion section is what got me:

The soluble fibre of the seed of Irvingia gabonensis like other forms of water-soluble dietary fibres, are “bulk-forming” laxatives.

So, it’s not the extract itself but the water-soluble fiber? Well, if that’s the case, then why pay all that money (I saw some bottles for well over $20 for 150 pills)? Why not just get some psyllium husk or Metamucil (if you can’t spare the calories) or increase our intake of foods that naturally have more soluble fiber in them? Here is a list of low carb foods that contain more fiber for you caloric buck:
Collard Greens
Nuts (especially Almonds) and Seeds
Psyllium (or Metamucil)
Brussels Sprouts
Chia Seeds (still need to buy a Chia pet)
I recently started a nut eating run (stumbled on some at Walgreens, ate some every night, then went to Costco and BAM! They have the best nut mix with no peanuts EVER!). This has pretty much been my evening snack for the past week and I have now dropped down to my low weight again. I’m thinking, since reading all the above, that it may be from the fiber (and other goodness) of the nuts that finally broke my stall. I hope so. I hope this isn’t some fluke of a thing but I feel better, my bowels are almost too happy, and I have lost inches despite being a lazy-ass and playing a video game for a week.

Garden, Supplies

PVC Pipe Soaker “Hose” Systems

This will save us tons of water while watering deep enough to keep the plants in the raised beds we’re going to build happy throughout our hot summers.

And this video lays out how to do this for raised beds!

This guy did this setup but for his containers:

Food Storage, Garden, Health And Wellness, Supplies

Water Storage

I can’t believe I never made a post about water storage (unless I did and just can’t find it).  I will include several links from various sources describing the various methods of water storage and how to ensure the safety of the water.   Of everything we think we “need” to survive in the event of some sort of event, too many do not include water as their number 1 priority.  It’s always food, shelter, clothing, etc. but with all of that, if we do not have access to water (either already clean or have the ability to clean it) we will not survive long enough to enjoy that food and the other supplies we have stored.

The first link I will share is to a water filter that looks like it is by far the best one out there.  It’s to a forum (disclosure here) that I am a moderator/administrator for (you can view this post without being a member) and my dear friend has researched the heck out of this filter. It’s for the water filters made by

And here’s how to make a *Home Made Berkey Water Filter* which is helpful for those people like me (if there are any others out there because California is so whacky) who are unable to purchase the Big Berkeys due to state regulations. I don’t see why, if you account for flow rate, this setup can’t be used for other brands of large water filters.

Here’s an article from the CDC:

Personal Preparation and Storage of Safe Water

And here’s an even more basic article from the LDS church:

Drinking Water Guidelines

Now, for cisterns, which I think is ultimately be best way to go, if you have the space for them:

This first article is from the University of Florida extension (there’s a link to a .pdf of this article on the upper left side of their web page):

Cisterns To Collect Non-Potable Water For Domestic Use

And this one, by far, is my favorite, since I truly love Mother Earth News:

The Homestead Cistern

So, if you haven’t already begun you water storage project, you have some reading to do. It’s never too late to get started, even if the positive results may not be seen this year (since I do not expect California to get anywhere near the rain that is needed this year).

Level 1, Levels 2 And Above



Usually, when I say the word water, I make a face and say the word like a little kid agreeing to do something they don’t want to do.  I am not naturally a water drinker.  As a matter of fact, I typically have to force myself to drink any.
Well, I wanted to tell you how I force (yes, force, especially now that the weather has cooled) myself to get in any water during the day.
First: There has to be ice in the water.  No matter how cold it is coming out of the tap, it just doesn’t taste right.
Second: In the beginning, I added a little salt and the squeeze of about 1/8 lime. It was still quite warm when I came back full bore and this was very refreshing. That is, until my teeth started hurting. It seems they couldn’t handle the added acid.
Third: I drink my water with a straw. When we had that awful day driving to Fry’s electronics with nothing to drink, on the way home we picked up some 44 ounce sodas (mmmmm …. diet Mountain Dew). I liked the cups, so that’s what I started using for my water. I managed to drink three of those every day without thinking about it too much. Well, even though I was hand washing, the Styrofoam didn’t hold up so I went back to my 32-ounce thermos mug. I could barely finish 2 of those. Then, I came across a posting on Reddit where many said they drank more with a straw. So, in that little hole on the top went a straw and I was up to 3 of those a day (I need a bigger mug … I actually get lazy when I’m in the middle of doing something and don’t want to get up just to fill up my water).
Fourth: I bribe myself. No matter what else I’m drinking, I have my mug-o-water next to it. If I want another swig of coffee,tea or soda, I need to drink some water first.
That’s it.  Now, to practice what I preach and fill up my water mug.  Happy Drinking!

Cleaning, Food Storage, Garden, Health And Wellness, Supplies

Safe Use of Household Greywater

Below is an article describing the safe use of household greywater (think kitchen sink, washer, and bathtub water) from a website that I cannot access any longer and here is an article from the University of Florida Extension explaining how to build a cistern for non-potable water:

Safe Use of Household Greywater

Guide M-106

Revised by Marsha Duttle, Extension Research Assistant

College of Agriculture and Home Economics New Mexico State University

Greywater is water that has been used for washing dishes, laundering clothes, or bathing. Essentially, any water, other than toilet wastes, draining from a household is greywater. Although this used water may contain grease, food particles, hair, and any number of other impurities, it may still be suitable for reuse. Reusing greywater serves two purposes: it reduces the amount of freshwater needed to supply a household, and reduces the amount of waste water entering sewer or septic systems.

The New Mexico Environment Department and the Construction Industries Division govern liquid waste disposal in New Mexico, and issue permits for approved systems. Greywater use is restricted by the Liquid Waste Disposal Regulations (LWDR), but the Environment Department can grant a variance if the applicant shows that:

  1. “granting the variance will result in public health and environmental protection equal to or greater than the minimum protection provided by the varianced requirement” (LWDR section 202.D.2.); and
  2. “the proposed liquid waste system will, by itself or in combination with other liquid waste systems, neither cause a hazard to public health nor degrade any body of water” (LWDR section 202.D. 1).

Note: Be sure to obtain all necessary permits before installing a greywater system.


The amount and quality of greywater will in part determine how it can be reused. Irrigation and toilet flushing are two common uses, but nearly any non-contact use is a possibility.

Greywater is suitable for irrigating lawns, trees, ornamentals, and food crops. Though irrigation methods in greenhouses may differ greatly from outdoor irrigation, several guidelines for use of greywater apply to both situations.

  • Apply greywater directly to the soil, not through a sprinkler or any method that would allow contact with the above-ground portion of the plants.
  • Root crops which are eaten uncooked should not be irrigated with greywater.
  • Plants that thrive only in acid soil should not be watered with greywater, which is alkaline.
  • Use greywater only on well-established plants, not seedlings or young plants.
  • Disperse greywater over a large area, and rotate with fresh water to avoid buildup of sodium salts.

In addition, when irrigating outdoors, apply greywater only to flat areas where runoff is not likely. A cloth bag attached to the end of the hose will help distribute water and also act as an additional filter. The filter will need to be removed and cleaned periodically (every three or four days).

In arid areas where dry grass or brush pose a fire hazard, homeowners may wish to plant a firebreak or “greenbelt” of a selected high-moisture species. Greywater is ideal for irrigating firebreaks, because it contributes plant nutrients in the process.

Remember that in most areas outdoor irrigation is a seasonal use for greywater, but greywater is produced throughout the year. If reverting to sewer or septic systems during the winter is not feasible, find uses that are possible during all seasons.

Toilet flushing can use considerable amounts of greywater, as it normally accounts for up to 50% of indoor water use. Poor quality greywater is not a problem if it is used to flush toilets, because the water goes into the sewer or septic system where it would have gone had it not been reused. Greywater should be pumped into the toilet bowl for flushing. DO NOT put greywater into the toilet tank. Greywater in the tank may not only cause the flushing mechanism to malfunction, but could be backsiphoned into the fresh water supply if water pressure decreases suddenly.

Lagoons or ponds containing greywater can grow algae to feed fish in a separate pond, or provide food for ducks and other waterfowl. Removal of the algae is necessary to keep the system aerobic and prevent foul odors. Ponds are often lined with concrete, stone, or plastic to prevent leakage. This method is a relatively inexpensive and easy way to recycle water, but requires some expertise to site and construct the lagoons.

With an automatic clothes washer, the wash water from a lightly soiled load, or rinse water, can be saved to wash the next load. When reusing laundry water for irrigation, do not use liquid fabric softener or detergents including softener (use softener sheets in the dryer instead). Water should not be reused if the laundry includes diapers. Wash water containing gasoline, diesel, or similar pollutants, should not be used for purposes other than flushing.


Untreated greywater should not be kept for longer than one day, but adding two tablespoons of chlorine bleach per gallon of water will extend storage time somewhat. Try to use greywater the day it is collected or the high bacteria count will cause objectionable odors.

Observe these precautions when using untreated greywater:

  • Greywater containing sodium, bleach or borax can damage plants. For this reason, water from automatic dishwashers should not be used for irrigation.
  • Water used to wash cooking utensils in the sink may contain grease, fats and oils, and is not acceptable for greywater use.
  • If you plan to use water from your washing machine, avoid liquid fabric softeners and detergents with softeners. Use a dryer fabric softener sheet instead.


Investing time and equipment in a system designed to filter, store, and possibly disinfect greywater may make water reuse a more convenient practice. Some questions to answer before building a treatment system are:

  • How much greywater will have to be treated? About 65% of domestic wastewater is greywater. Bathing and laundry can generate considerable quantities of greywater in a large household.
  • What contaminants are present? Greywater from the bathroom will have different characteristics than that from the kitchen (see figure 1).
  • What are the possible uses after treatment? The planned uses of greywater may call for more or less treatment. Some uses, such as outdoor irrigation, are seasonal; greywater is produced year round.
  • What is the soil type and depth to water table at your site? A shallow water table underlying sandy soil could be in danger of contamination.

Answering these questions will help you decide what type and size of system to install. Because greywater treatment systems are not much in demand, you may have to design and build a system to meet your own specifications and needs. Options to consider for greywater treatment include settling tanks, disinfectants and filters.

Figure 1. Water-quality characteristics of selected domestic wastewater. (Figure has been modified from its original version in order to be html programmed. Please see PDF file or contact NMSU Agricultural Communications for the original hard copy.) ________________________________________________________________________________________

  Water Source       Characteristics
Automatic Clothes Washer  Bleach, Foam, High pH,
     Hot water, Nitrate, Oil and
     Grease, Oxygen demand,
     Phosphate, Salinity, Soaps,
     Sodium, Suspended solids,
     and Turbidity

Automatic Dish Washer Bacteria, Foam, Food particles,
High pH, Hot water, Odor,
Oil and grease, Organic matter,
Oxygen demand, Salinity, Soaps,
Suspended solids, and Turbidity

Bath tub and shower Bacteria, Hair, Hot water, Odor,
Oil and grease, Oxygen demand,
Soaps, Suspended solids, and

Evaporative Cooler Salinity

Sinks, including kitchen Bacteria, Food particles, Hot water,
Odor, Oil and grease, Organic matter,
Oxygen demand, Soaps, Suspended
solids, and Turbidity

Swimming Pool Chlorine, and Salinity


In a settling tank, solids and large particles will settle to the bottom, while grease, oils, and small particles will float. The remaining liquid will be reused. A settling tank also allows hot water to cool before reuse. The tank should be large enough to hold twice the expected dally flow plus 40 percent, to allow for sludge accumulation and surge loading. One type of settling tank well-suited for greywater treatment is a septic tank. A septic tank is specifically designed to allow settling, but do not confuse the use of a septic tank to treat greywater with the conventional use of a septic tank. Greywater intended for reuse should NEVER be mixed with toilet wastes.

Greywater coming out of a septic tank contains little or no oxygen. Greywater from an aerobic tank will contain more oxygen, which is better for irrigation purposes. An electrical pump or aerator added to a septic tank can create an aerobic environment. Aerobic conditions allow some decomposition of wastes in the tank, and may help minimize sludge buildup and blockages in the system. Both aerobic and septic tanks will need to be pumped Out every three to five years.

Several types of tanks may be suitable for settling or storage of greywater. In addition to metal, polyethylene, fiberglass or wooden tanks that are commonly used, consider using plastic garbage cans, 55-gallon dims, portable swimming pools, or waterbed mattresses.


Two chemicals used to disinfect water are chlorine and iodine, with chlorine being more common. Not only is it readily available (as household liquid bleach or at swimming pool supply houses) and relatively inexpensive, but it is stable in storage and will, in time, vaporize from the water after disinfection. Organic material in greywater may combine with chlorine, and reduce the amount available for disinfection. For this reason, a filter or settling tank before the disinfection point may be advisable.

Iodine is less affected by organic material, persists longer, and may be more effective at the high pH of greywater. Iodine is also fast-acting, requiring no more than two minutes to kill most pathogens.

Several devices are available commercially that dispense appropriate amounts of iodine or chlorine (in solid or liquid form) to a water system. Check with swimming pool supply houses or water treatment companies.


The type of filter required for a greywater system depends largely upon the amount of greywater to be filtered and the type of contaminants present. A drain filter is an easy and inexpensive way to filter lint and hair Out of bath or laundry water. A simple cloth bag tied over the end of a hose or pipe may be sufficient for irrigating outdoors or similar applications.

Many types of commercial water filters are available. Most use an activated charcoal, cellulose, or ceramic cartridge that must be cleaned or replaced regularly. Before buying a filter, determine whether it is a gravity filter (for low volumes) or a pressure filter (for flow rates greater than 20 gallons per minute). Also consider the frequency, cost, and ease of maintenance.

Slow sand or multi-media filters are usually built by the homeowner. These gravity filters may be constructed in a 55-gallon drum or similar container that is of suitable size. Features that should be part of a filter include a perforated plate or some other device to distribute water evenly over the top, a concrete funnel in the bottom to help water drain to the perforated drain pipe, and a cover and vent to prevent odors. Fill the bottom of the filter with stones that are too large to enter the drain pipe.

Slow sand filters are shallow layers of stone, medium gravel, and pea gravel beneath a deep layer of sand (see figure 2). A slow sand filter will treat approximately 0.05 to 0.13 gallons per minute per square foot of surface area.

Multi-media filters are filled with a variety of media in order of increasing size, for example, fine sand, coarse sand, gravel, stone, and wood chips, to a total depth of 2 1/2 to 3 feet (see figure 3).

NOTE: Figures 2 and 3 are not available. Please see PDF file or contact NMSU Agricultural Communications for a hard copy.

Slow sand filters require regular cleaning and replacement of the top layer of media. Multi-media filters require less frequent cleaning, but all layers must be cleaned or replaced when maintenance is required. Routing greywater through a settling tank before filtering reduces contaminant load and can lengthen the interval between cleanings.

Figure 4. Treatment for water-quality variables (Figure 4 has been modified from its original version in order to be html programmed. Please see PDF file or contact NMSU Agricultural Communications for the original hard copy.)


 Treatment        Variable
Aeration    Odor, Organic matter, Oxygen
     demand, and pH

Alum Soaps, and Turbidity

Carbon filtration Odor

Chlorination Bacteria, and Odor

Crop filtration Bacteria, Food particles, Suspended
solids, and Turbidity

Crop uptake Nitrate, Phosphate, Soaps,
and Sodium

Dilution Hot water, Nitrate, pH, Phosphate,
Salinity, and Sodium

Filtration Food particles, Oil and grease,
Organic matter, Soaps, Suspended
solids, and Turbidity

Flotation Oil and grease

Hydrogen peroxide Bacteria, and Odor

Lime Bacteria, Odor, and Sodium

Settling Foam, Food particles, Hot water,
Organic matter, Oxygen demand,
and Suspended solids

Soil filtration Bacteria, Bleach, Chlorine, Foam,
Food particles, Organic matter, Oxygen
demand, Suspended solids, and Turbidity

Soil uptake Nitrate, Phosphate, Soaps, and Sodium

Storage Foam, Food particles, Hot water, Organic
matter, Oxygen demand, pH, and
Suspended solids

(Figures 1 and 4 reprinted from Water and Wastes Engineering with the permission of Scranton-Gillette Communications, Inc.)

New Mexico State University is an equal opportunity/affimative action employer and educator. NMSU and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating.

Written: January 1990
Last Modified: February 1994
Placed on Server: April 4, 1996