Grow Your Own: Collecting Rain – Planning

Well, up here in the northeast we still have a bit of snow on the ground and it’s still dropping well below freezing at night so it’s much to early to start planting, but it’s time for my winter thinking and planning to start coming together. The first step is finding a source of water to use to water the garden. We have a well that works great to meet our needs as a family but general consensus is that it won’t be sufficient to water the garden as well. To that end I need to get water from somewhere else.. collecting rain seems like the obvious solution.

I have begun gathering 55 gallon barrels made of plastic to act as holding chambers but the process of getting the rain to the barrels is proving to be somewhat difficult. Clearly putting the barrel under the downspout is the obvious choice but aside from the aesthetic drawbacks most of our downspouts are either on a part of the property that is steeply angled or in some way inaccessible for a barrel. Perhaps I will put 5 gallon barrels under the spouts and jocky the water to a central holding area. Not an automatic process..

The second leg of the process will be automating the actual watering. I want to setup an efficient method for watering with as little waste as possible that waters on it’s own. No watering buckets. The plan will be to suspend one of the 55 gallon drums a few feet in the air and connect a hose to the bottom (somehow) and then hook that into a water timer. Most mechanical timers require a certain amount of flow to operate correctly and getting one of those to work on a gravity fed system may prove difficult. From the timer I’ll bury a length of hose just under the ground (lawn mower protection) and then run it to a soaker hose in the garden beds.

The system is going to require me to pump water into a feeder barrel every few days from a reservoir and perhaps manually filling that reservoir after each rain storm… We’ll see what I’m able to come up with. Knowing me, this whole thing needs to be as self sustaining as possible if it has any hope of lasting through the horror that is summer…

More to follow, I hope.


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