It’s Raining Barrels

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Near the end of last summer, after contributing to strain on our municipality sewer system and the local river and after having paid water and sewer charges for several months to water my garden, I decided to look into getting a rain barrel or two.  There are additives like chlorine and fluoride in my water and these are hard on plants.  I may no longer feel I need to use fertilizers when I use rain water.  My municipality water supplier will give me a credit each month for each rain barrel I attach – up to two. After coming up with a few requirements for my needs I made my choice.  To read about how I made my choice from the many options, click here.

This is what we did.

I purchased a Fiskars ‘Salsa’ rain barrel with a downspout diverter ‘diverter pro’ and a 58 gallon capacity.  I decided on a sealed system, no screens in the barrel or open tops for debris and bug entry.  My first rain after hookup yielded a full barrel within an hour with a moderate rain shower!  The water that is in there now is still clean and fresh after several weeks of sitting.  I have, of course, used some of it but we’ve had so much rain this summer I have not even needed it all yet. (I wrote this article in the summer of 2013)

 

level the surface

level the surface

Our first step was to build a raised, level platform for the rain barrel to sit on.  We chose a place next to one of our downspouts and used a course builders sand as a base.  We placed pavers over the sand to raise the barrel height.  You can use bricks, cement blocks, wood, a plastic base or whatever you like to raise the barrel height.  This will help the water flow out of your barrel using gravity.

 

 

 

supplies

supplies

place and level the barrel

place and level the barrel

We needed a drill, measuring tape, and a hole saw for our drill.  We put the barrel in place on our raised platform,checked for level, and cut the downspout (using a hack saw) so the diverter hose would be level with the hole in the barrel per the instructions that came with the barrel.  Different diverters require different placement.  On our barrel we drilled the hole for the diverter connection.

 

 

 

The hole in the barrel for the spigot to put a watering can under (or attach a hose to) was already done by Fiskars.  I wanted another hole, lower down, for a hose connection. This would be both for a hose and for ease of emptying the barrel completely.

mark and drill pilot hole

mark and drill pilot hole

drill hole for second spigot

drill hole for second spigot

We made a mark on the barrel where the second hole was to go.  Using a drill bit, we drilled a small pilot hole first so the hole saw would stay in place.  We drilled the hole for the second spigot using the same hole saw we had used for the diverter connection.

 

 

 

 

 

use large nut on inside of barrel

use large nut on inside of barrel

use cloth to prevent damage to plastic

use cloth to prevent damage to plastic

I had purchased the second spigot and we put it in place with a metal nut on the inside, carefully tightening it with a cloth so as not to damage the plastic spigot.  I chose plastic over brass because plastic is lighter and would put less stress on the plastic barrel.  Plastic against plastic.  We then attached the spigot that came with the barrel.

 

 

 

downspout does not fit diverter connection

downspout does not fit diverter connection

added screws

added screws

We then ran into difficulties.  The diverter would not fit on our 2”x 3” downspout.  We have vinyl gutters and downspouts.  For the top connection we used more screws to pull the downspout to the diverter and had to really do a lot of adapting to connect the bottom section.  We took the diverter to the store and spent the day trying to find something that would fit on the outside of the lower end of the diverter rather than on the inside as designed.  It was slightly too big to fit so it buckled and the downspout corners are a bit rounded but the diverter was square so the water just ran through that opening at all four corners.  We thought we might use metal downspout material but found that metal did not fit either!  When either vinyl or metal downspout was inside, on the bottom section, the rain water could leak everywhere.   We needed to keep the water away from our foundation.

one small leak

one small leak

Let it Rain!

Let it Rain!

The pictures show our solution.  The only leak we now have is a very small one where the diverter hose fits into the connector at the barrel.  We can live with that.  After 2 days and many trips to the hardware and big box stores we started our rain dance.  Whew!

Starting vegetable seeds

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I am getting a bit of a late start but I finally got around to starting the first batch of vegetable seeds for this year.

The supplies

The supplies

I am using seed starter pellets I got at Walgreens I think, the seeds are Burpee and Botanical Interests, and the tray is from a starter kit I got last year that I am reusing. This first batch includes (and was partially decided by how many seeds I had) 3 tomatoes, 6 cabbages (a few I might give away or trade), 3 zucchini, 3 winter squash, 3 beans, 3 peas, and 6 broccoli (some of these I might trade away also).

Some of the seeds I am using

Some of the seeds I am using

Watering the pellets

Start by expanding the pellets with some water

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seedlings

2 days later I have some seedlings

 

 

So a bit late but off to a good start. This week I will be sowing carrots into 5 gallon buckets. I do this for 2 reasons. One is that my raised beds are not deep enough and two is that I find growing carrots in containers isolates them from pests and disease. I did this last year for the first time and had great success.

 

 

I have quite a bit of work to do in the next few weeks. I have to prepare the raised beds with new liner and set up an irrigation system before these seedlings are ready to go in. lots still to do and lots to share with you.

Happy Gardening

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