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Mr. Smarty Plants - Plants for science fair project using greywater

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Sunday - November 17, 2013

From: Everett, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Watering
Title: Plants for science fair project using greywater
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What kind of plants should we use for our science fair project.We are doing our project on how greywater affects plant growth. We saw your answer on how it affects it but we don't know what type of plants to use. Also where could we get grey water.

ANSWER:

Since you will be doing an experiment you will need to control as many of the variables as possible between treated plants.  I assume you will be treating some of your plants with greywater and some with fresh water.  That means that you would need plants of a similar size and species growing in (as closely as you can achieve it) identical environments—e.g., sun, shade, wind exposure, soils, container size).  At this time of year you will probably be growing your plants indoors with growlights and controlled temperatures.  Just be sure that all plants are growing under the same conditions so that the only thing that is varying is the type of water you use on them.  I don't know how long you have to complete your experiment but my guess is that you don't have time to grow them from seed.  My suggestion is to go to a local nursery that specializes in native plants (our focus and expertise are with plants native to North America) and see what they have available.  Choose similar-sized plants in similar sized-containers.  You probably want several plants of at least one species so that you can compare greywater with fresh water treatment using several plants for each treatment.  You may want to use more than one species depending on your experimental plan.  I don't know what native plants might be available in Massachusetts at this time of year, but you can visit our National Suppliers Directory to find nurseries near you that carry native plants.

You are going to have to do research in your area to find a source of greywater.   Most established homes have been designed to empty their greywater sources (e.g., showers, clotheswashers, dishwashers) into the sewer line or into septic tanks.   Some houses with septic tanks, however, often drain their washers (both clothes and dish) into separate drain fields, but I have no good way to locate them in your area. 

Be sure to read the answers and the links on the page of this previous Mr. Smarty Plants question about greywater and the links on this previous question as well.

 

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