Friday, March 9, 2012

Rain Collecting

Does it rain at your house? If so, which I hope it does, do you collect the rain? If you don't your missing out on an opportunity to water your garden with free water. There are several different ways you can collect rain water. You could set a bucket under a spot that gets lots of run off. You could set up a gutter system to direct the flow. You could even string up a tarp with the edges higher than the center and have it connected to a container. Lets don't forget rain barrels, my choice in collecting. I have two, they aren't frilly or anything special. Just some run of the mill kind I got at Atwood's on sale. I didn't even buy them in the same year so I could space out the cost. They were about $60 each.
 I was at a farm store the other day and saw some fancy one that had a planter on top and was colored like a clay pot. It was designed for a gutter to be placed above it and was $100. I was shocked at the price. Right next to it was a different one that looked like a barrel but was plastic, also designed for gutter and was almost as much. This got me thinking about how lucky I was that I had spent way less on mine. It also got me to thinking about what everyone else was doing. I spoke to my son's Cub Scout pack on monday evening about gardening and I asked very simple questions about weather they grew things before, if they knew what things a seed needed to grow a fruit or veggie. I also asked if they collected rain to water their garden, only my kids did. They know how fun it is to lug heavy buckets of water around to water their plants. So this made me think more. Do people not know how easy it is or how much money they will save? Do they think they have to put up guttering and ruin their roof, which you don't by the way. So I am here writing this post hoping to give you some ideas on how to save money, time and water. First when you decide you want a rain barrel, it might be a good idea to see if your town allows them. You can read some about this here. I also like to scout areas to see if its applicable to have it their. I don't want it on the flat side a roof where hardly any or no water runs off.
Not the best location for a rain barrel, it is flat with the house.
 Its also a good idea to take a look at the ground you wish to set it up on. Is it going to be cornered in and let water build up and leak into your garage? I had this problem when I put it in an awesome corner that gets lots of runoff off the house. Because I raised the barrel using cinder blocks leaves and debris built up and blocked the water from being able to go around the barrels base. My chickens are also fond of hiding behind it and trying to make nests, so we are moving it this year. Speaking of raising the barrel, if you want to be able to drain it with ease or hook it to water hose you will need to raise it. It helps gravity along, and remember its not a water spicket like the one attached to your house, you wont have much if any pressure behind the flow.
The corner of the house has good runoff, making it a great spot for a rain barrel.
This year I am going to raise my main barrel so I can attach it to the hose and spare myself and my children from lugging heavy buckets. Ok so, you have a spot picked out and your debating a barrel type. Don't want to spend all that money on one? No problem, find a store that resales soda barrels. My brothers rain barrel is one, an old mountain dew barrel. All we did was cut the top off and put some mesh over it, attach a spicket at the base and your good to go. Make sure its a food grade barrel please. Now when you find your barrel and decide where to put it, you need to level it a bit. You don't want it falling over in a storm when it should be filling up. I just put a few cinder blocks under it, leveling dirt with a hoe when needed. When its all set up you just need to wait for rain.

Ready and waiting for rain.
When it does rain, you will probably notice that your barrel it getting a build up of grit from the shingles or dirt from rain or various other things in it that the mesh screen didn't filter out. You do have to clean them out occasionally. I use a little soap and a scrubber, after it is empty and I spray out the muck. I end up doing this about once a year. If you notice you arent using the water fast enough and its turning green and the sides are slimy, you could add small fish. Make sure your barrel is shaded if you do or you will have cooked dead fish. Yes this happend to me, quite nasty. Using the water isnt hard, I fill up my water pail or 5 gallon buckets and go about my business. Other than the periodical cleaning you will want to make sure you protect your barrel from freezing tempuratures. There is no reason to spend the time and money buying it and setting it up if your just going to let it ruin. I clean mine in the fall and put them in my shed. I just brought one out the other day before it rained. I know its a little early, but its so warm this spring. Mine have lasted 2 and 3 years so far and I am hopeing to get much more out of them. I know they have already saved me the amount of money I paid for them. I really hope you learned something from this and maybe decided to get a rain barrel or not. If you have anymore ideas, please share them.

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