Last week, I took a tour of Montrose, a nearby property listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The owners, Nancy and Craufurd Goodwin, have maintained and expanded the site's original plantings for almost 40 years.
The Goodwins depend heavily on the "right plant, right place" concept to minimize the amount of labor that must be done on the 61-acre property. As a result, they do little supplemental watering. While they don't have rain barrels or cisterns on the property, they do collect rainwater for the few plantings that do require extra water.
They collect it in old copper kettles. Copper has natural properties that kill mosquito larvae.
I was impressed by this ingenious solution to an important problem. Gardeners know about the importance of water conservation, but many of us try to find a safe balance between good water conservation practices and keeping a healthy, mosquito-free environment. This kettle technique works brilliantly at Montrose, where it does its job discreetly and effectively. Most people probably don't have numerous large copper kettles stashed in the shed. But if you are one of the lucky ones who has one to hand, know that you have an elegant, mosquito-repelling water source at your service.