The temps outside are starting to bounce back from a very cold winter, and that means, sooner than we know, seedlings and sprouts will be ready for Spring growing. While that’s an exciting time of the year, the team at Osceola Water Works would like to remind you while Osceola water customers are still under a conservation ordinance, it doesn’t mean your gardening activities need to suffer.

water conservation while gardeningThe current conservation restrictions, under Section 3: Water Emergency states, “Water reclaimed or recycled after some primary use, …, may be used without restriction. Additionally, water derived from sources other than the Osceola Water Plant may be used without restriction.”

This gives the “Green thumbs” of our community opportunities to get creative when it comes to gardening and planting activities this season.

While starting and maintaining a spring garden and conserving water while experiencing drought conditions are both environmentally responsible and practical, the Osceola Water Works team wanted to provide a handful of gardening tips, along with methods for managing the garden with recycled or reclaimed water:

1) Choose Drought-Resistant Plants: opt for native or drought-tolerant plant species for your spring garden. These plants are adapted to survive with minimal water input once established. Examples include succulents, lavender, yarrow, and California poppies. They not only require less water but also support local ecosystems.

a) Some of the best Midwest-native vegetables for your garden include:

i) Tomatoes: Varieties such as Roma, Celebrity, and Sun Gold are known for their resilience to drought.
ii) Peppers: Bell peppers and hot peppers like jalapeños and habaneros can tolerate dry conditions once established.
iii) Beans: Bush beans and pole beans are generally drought-resistant and can produce well with minimal watering.
iv) Kale: This leafy green vegetable is hardy and can withstand fluctuations in water availability.
v) Radishes: These fast-growing root vegetables are well-suited for dry conditions and can be harvested relatively quickly.

2) Companion Planting: Explore companion planting techniques to create mutually beneficial relationships between different vegetable species. Some companion plants can help retain soil moisture and improve water efficiency.
3) Mulch for Water Retention: Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips or compost, around your plants. Mulch helps retain soil moisture by reducing evaporation and suppressing weed growth. Additionally, it improves soil structure and fertility over time. Consider using recycled materials like shredded newspaper or cardboard as mulch, which can also help reduce waste.
4) Collect and Reuse Rainwater: Set up rain barrels or cisterns to collect rainwater from gutters and downspouts. This harvested rainwater can then be used to irrigate your garden during dry periods, reducing reliance on municipal water supplies. Install a filter to remove debris and a spigot for easy access. Consider placing a mesh cover over the barrels to prevent mosquito breeding.
5) Recycle Household Water: Implement strategies to recycle household water, such as greywater, for irrigation. Greywater includes wastewater from activities like laundry, dishwashing, and bathing, which can be safely reused for watering non-edible plants. Install a greywater recycling system that diverts water from drains to outdoor irrigation systems. Use eco-friendly, biodegradable soaps and detergents to minimize potential harm to plants and soil.

“Spring and Summer gardens are an important resource for our residents,” said Alisha Kale, Osceola Water Works Board of Trustees President. “We want them to be able to enjoy every day of our growing season.”

By following these tips and incorporating water-saving techniques into your gardening routines, you can help conserve water resources while enjoying a vibrant and sustainable garden.

If you have questions pertaining to the Osceola Water Works’ Water Conservation Ordinance or would like to discuss other opportunities for helping the community conserve water, please reach out to the team at Osceola Water Works at 208 West Jefferson Street, PO Box 515, Osceola, Iowa 50213, phone: 641-342-1435 or email: