Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Rain Barrel Gardening

Earlier this year, I wrote about rain barrels as a natural alternative to yard maintenance. After doing my research for the post, and after starting to invest some serious time and labor in our yard, I decided that we had to get our own rain barrel.

Luckily, I knew the magic words to use when proposing the idea to my boyfriend: "It will save money on the water bill!"

SOLD.

There are other benefits too, like the fact that rainwater is better for plants, because it's naturally soft water and isn't treated with chlorine or other chemicals. (Of course, rainwater isn't completely pure, thanks to water and ground pollution, but it is better than using treated city water.) Rain barrels also reduce the amount of stormwater runoff and surface water pollutants that enter watersheds, like the Bayou Vermilion watershed around Lafayette.

One $37.50 online order later, we waited until pickup day. And then we showed up not realizing how many other residents had also ordered barrels, so we waited in line for 45 minutes. After inching forward enough, we picked up our new gray barrel and went on our way.

 

The barrel is a pretty manageable size, and it's got a screen lid, spigot/faucet hookup, and overflow and drain valves. Easy!


I'll admit, we didn't set it up properly for the first few weeks, instead waiting until approximately 15 minutes before it started to rain...for two days straight. Pro tip: Don't do that. Set it up in nice weather. Also, when it's still empty. Because, another pro tip: Full rain barrels are h-e-a-v-y.

We picked up four cinderblocks and four concrete bricks and picked the ideal spot in the backyard near the hose and where the rain falls steadily.


The cinderblocks and bricks raise the barrel to the perfect height to where the watering can fits underneath. It's very easy to flip the spigot and fill the watering can. And it feels so good because you know you're saving money!


It does make watering the plants in the evening a bit more pleasant. I feel like I'm staying true to nature, and just collecting the rain for days that don't have any. So far, the barrel has stayed sufficiently full, and we've used it often to water the potted plants and mulch areas. I personally have not used it with a hose yet, since I tend to stick with the watering can, but I need to try connecting the hose to see how well it performs. The barrel and spigot aren't meant for connecting to a sprinkler, so if you rely on automatic sprinklers, well, you just miss out on the eco gardening fun. 

It's important to water your plants in the early morning or evening, when the sun is not as direct. With the summer heat, water in the heat of the afternoon evaporates faster, so your yard really isn't getting a good soaking. It can actually dry out plants a little more.


We had some good rains yesterday, and I was excited to come home and see the rain barrel being filled up (and the screen doing its job keeping leaves and sticks out).


Just saving the water for a sunny day.


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