Monday, May 9, 2011

Gardening 101: Got rain? Get rain barrels!!! How to install them and why?

I have been after some rain water barrels for a while. Collecting rain water has many benefits, on top of just being cool, it saves you money, it's good for planet earth and your vegetables will do better! Yes vegetables watered with rain water will grow stronger as rain water does not contain all the chemicals that we add to our water supply these days. Rain water is just what nature intended.

My goal is to use our sprinkler system a bit less this summer to water my vegetables, my flower beds and to refill my pond (no need for dechlorinating chemicals here either!)

So how do you go about collecting rain water? The easiest and cheapest way is to buy some rain barrels. You can find them in any garden center, online or just like we did in craigslist (just search for rain barrels). We found ours for only $40 a piece (brand new ones).

If you are going to go the craigslist way, please make sure to check for the following features:
  • Make sure that it used to contain food grade materials (ours were used to store tomato paste)
  • Check that it has a mesh at the top so no debris will enter your barrel

  • Check that it has a spout at the bottom so you can connect a hose to use the water

  • Check that it has an overflow spout or system

My husband has been nice to me and he has done the heavy lifting installing the rain barrels. I give all the credit to him! He went and got me 3 rain barrels to start with (so far he has installed 2).

To install the barrels, first find the best place for them. It needs to be just underneath your gutter  pipes - we were lucky we can hide ours a bit, so we get not ugly blue barrels in the middle of our garden (you can always paint them to disguised them a little).

Your rain barrel needs to sit high so gravity can work to help you get the water out of the barrel through the bottom spout. Place your barrel on top of some bricks as high as you can.

You will need to cut your gutter pipe, make sure you measure correctly the height of the rain barrel so you do the cut in the right place. You will need to buy a gutter pipe adapter from a DIY store, they sell them everywhere and connect that to your gutter.

Move your rain barrel and place it just so the other end of the gutter adapter is right on top of the rain barrel opening. Connect a hose to the overflow spout and simply direct that into your flower beds or back into the gutter drainage and you are done!!

When it rains, the water from your roof will collect nicely into your new rain barrel (we had ours installed only a week ago and they are almost half full!) I have been watering my vegetables with the one close to my vegetable beds. I have been using a watering can right now, but the goal is to have a dripping hose attached to the spout so I only need to open it up to water my garden, no more effort! Once I get to do that I will do a post on how to connect and install the hose.

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