Most vegetable gardeners that live within city limits, like myself, rely on city water for watering the vegetable garden when there isn’t much rain.
Even with the use of rain barrels and other systems for capturing rain water, city water may need to be used when those systems run dry.
But using city water for watering the vegetable garden might have some undesirable effects on plants and the soil.
If you use city water to water your vegetable garden, here are a few things you may want to consider before doing so.
Is City Water Bad for Vegetable Gardens and Soil?
It is widely known that cities add chlorine and fluoride to the public drinking water for sanitation reasons.
While this is essential for keeping the water supply safe and healthy for us to drink it isn’t so safe for our vegetables.
Chlorine and chloramine are thought to be harmful to beneficial microbes living in the soil and fluoride really doesn’t help our plants much either.
Chloramine, which is chlorine and ammonia mixed together, is said to kill yeast when trying to bake bread using water with it. The water must be filtered in order for the bread to rise correctly.
This can be especially bad when using city water for brewing compost tea or worm tea. The whole point of brewing these organic teas is to condition the soil and add beneficial microbes.
If the chemicals in the city water are killing those microbes you have just made the tea somewhat ineffective.
Don’t go into a panic about using city water, it won’t kill your vegetable garden. All plants need water to be able to take up nutrients and survive, and using city water is better than using nothing.
In my opinion, plants seemed to have lush growth, deeper colors, and produce better when watered with rain water over city water. The vegetable garden always seems to look better after a slow drizzly day of rain.
Some gardeners say they see no difference in using captured rain water and using solely city water, so it all lies within the beholder.
If you want to keep your gardening water supply chemical-free there are a few things you can do to reduce, or eliminate, the chemicals found in tap water.
Eliminating Chlorine In City Water
The easiest way to get rid of any chlorine problems is by not using it as much as possible. Install one or two rain barrels around your home and use the captured rain water.
You could also have a well dug on your property for watering the vegetable garden and washing cars.
Although it can be a large one-time investment monetarily, a well can end up saving you money on the water bill for the long term.
A quick and easy solution is allowing the city water to sit for a period before using it in the vegetable garden. Chlorine and fluoride will evaporate when left sitting for at least a day.
Fill up a few five gallon buckets and let them sit overnight then use the water the following day to water your vegetables. The chlorine will evaporate leaving you with fresh, chlorine-free water.
Try to avoid leaving the water-filled buckets out for too long if you have problems with mosquitos in your area.
Water that is left standing for too long can be breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
Covering the buckets is not recommended because this inhibits the evaporation of the chemicals.
Using City Water or Rain Water
The next time you grab the water hose to water your vegetables take a minute to think about the possible chemicals in your water supply.
You might not be necessarily be damaging your plants, but you could improve your garden and your soil but taking a few steps to improve the quality of the water you use.