Monday, April 27, 2015

Water Barrels

Following the idea of gardening on a budget and doing for yourself, brings me to the Letter W in the A to Z Blogger Challenge. Today I'm going to show you a great idea for your garden no matter the size you are working with.

Water Barrels or Rain Barrels as they are sometimes called, are a great way to collect free water for your garden or flower bed. We have a few all around our house. Out by the chicken coop and up in the front flower beds too. They are large barrels but they don't stick out like a sore thumb the way you think they would. Once is behind a bush, one is in a constant battle with vines and chickens aren't concerned about something they can hide behind. It's also a great perch for cats. 

Other than being a great sleeping spot for cats they are used for collecting rain water from a down spout or just off of your eaves. Lots of water runs off of your roof every year, why not make some use of it! I'd say that we have collected and used more than a thousand gallons each summer from our barrels. You can buy them from the large box stores, they run close to 100.00 each or you can make your own with just a few supplies and you don't even have to be handy.

We are lucky enough to live near a large pickle company, not too close a couple of counties away but there are always pickle barrels to be found for cheap, so that's what we used. You can use trash cans or any other kind of barrel that will hold water. There are plenty of video's on You Tube showing step by step and here's a great resource with step by step pictures. I'll show you ours and run you through the steps.

  • First You'll pick a container and an area either under a down spout or at an eave that gets a good water runoff. 
  • Then take your lid and drill or cut holes in the top so that can be cover with a screen or mess to keep the leaves and other items out.

This is the top of our pickle barrel we randomly drilled large holes in the top for rain to drain into the barrel. We use a window screen mess to cover the top. It looks like it needs to be replaced!
  • Your next step is to create an over flow near the top. It's not always necessary but we can get a lot of rain quickly and it keeps it from backing up. If you're really smart you can connect two barrels so the second can hold the overflow from the first. That's a project for us this year. We used a piece of PVC threaded so we can cap it off or attach a hose or another system into it. Make sure to not cut the hole too big, we used silicone to keep it in seal it.
  • Then near the bottom you'll want to place a metal spigot into your barrel. That's how you'll use all that great free water. We use this one for the front flower beds by attaching a soaker hose and running it around the bed. We run hoses off of the others for the garden and other uses. We used a larger washer on the inside of the hole to anchor the spigot and then silicone to seal it. 

You can see the overflow, we had a gully washer this afternoon. And the spigot on the bottom. We need to add another tank for the rainy spring so we'll have it available when it's hot and dry!

I have to add that while I was looking for a link I ran across a site or two that said that these are illegal in some areas. So  before you begin building check that out. Why collecting rainwater is against the law is beyond me, but some area won't let you dry laundry outside. But that's another soap box, I'll not get on today.

I hope you'll add these to your next weekend project list and come back for more great information on gardening and growing your own food!