Thursday, February 5, 2009

Water, water....

Not many gardening tasks today....planted some garlic, pulled weeds in one bed, watered, filled a few more trays with dirt for seedlings.

One part of planning a garden is planning water usage. Watering purely from the faucet can get surprisingly expensive as the weather heats up, plus the city water (especially in our area) is not especially good for the plants. Your plants will grow MUCH better on rainwater. Unfortunately, it doesn't rain enough to keep the garden going. I don't know much about reading drought maps, but I'm thinking this one isn't so good for us.

This forecast map doesn't seem so good either:

So, what's a gardener to do? One step is to collect what rain water you can and save it up for times when there isn't adequate rain fall. There is a lot of information out there on rainwater collection. Like just about everything else, we were looking for the cheapest, easiest way that would still get the job done. We set up a system to collect water only for the garden (it isn't suitable for drinking as is). First of all, you want to plan how many and what size barrels you need/want. A good rule of thumb is that you will catch 600 gallons of water for each 1,000 square feet of catchment area (how big your roof is) for each inch of rain there is. It adds up quickly. We purchased 37 gallon livestock feed storage drums (they were cheap and in town....Producer's will be selling 50 gallon drums for rainwater collection soon if you're local). The big guideline here is you need something that hasn't been storing yucky chemicals that will leach into your water and you want something that is not open to the outside or has a good lid (to avoid breeding mosquitoes). Then you need a way to connect the barrels (so that you only need water flowing into one to fill all of them). There are fancier ways to do this, but we just used garden hose repair kits. A hole was drilled into the side of the barrel near the bottom and the male end was siliconed into the barrel (in hindsight, probably should have used epoxy), then the female end was attached to a short piece of old garden hose (we cut up an old one that had holes in it). Continue in this matter to link up all the barrels. Then a spigot was attached near the bottom of one barrel. We built a stand out of 4x4's to hold the barrels up and allow us to take use of gravity for watering. Still, watering can be slow going and there's not enough force to push the water through drip line. Other people have put in small pumps and we're looking into this when we expand our system. To get the water into the barrels, we put up a short piece of gutter along one section of roof with a downspout that goes to one of the barrels. It is possible to cut a hole in that barrel, but you will need to cover the hole with screening small enough to keep mosquitoes out. We just run out and remove the lid when it rains. Definitely not the most sophisticated system out there, but it gets the job done on the cheap.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...