Water


IMG_20121205_164919It’s a common belief that using rainwater for irrigation in a Mediterranean climate is not practical, because most rains come in the winter and most usage comes in the dry summer. The argument is essentially that you can’t store enough water to irrigate for an entire summer. While this weather pattern is a problem, it doesn’t mean you can’t–or shouldn’t–use rainwater to irrigate. (more…)

I’m fortunate I don’t have too much of a problem with the larger pests–racoons and deer–that many people in my area must contend with. However, something around here has been thirsty and has discovered my rainwater barrels. I’m guessing it is racoons. (more…)

My deck, tilted down in the corner.A few weeks ago, I moved rainwater from my catchment barrels to secondary storage–some new garbage cans on my deck. I’ve been storing rainwater this way on my deck for a couple years, now, but these were new barrels in a new location. Apparently, that part of my deck, right next to the house, wasn’t as well supported underneath as the other place. When I first put the water there, there was no problem. But, a few days later we had an earthquake. The next day I noticed a marked tilt to my deck. Live and learn! Four garbage cans of water weight slightly over one-half ton. The combination of that weight and an earthquake has left me with a new project–repairing my deck! The water has now been moved to a new location, on solid earth.

In other good news, this weeks storms have refilled my catchment rain barrels and every five gallon bucket I own. I’m now at my total capacity of over 600 gallons of water. I’m very curious to see how far this amount of water will get me into the summer as I irrigate my garden.

Rain gauge at 2.5 inches from yesterday's storm.

Rain gauge at 2.5 inches from yesterday's storm.

That was a nice storm yesterday, the first good one since early October, if I’m not mistaken. I’ve been watering my winter crops with rainwater from that early storm, using about 200 gallons so far. It’s unusual to need to irrigate in the winter, but I’m glad I’ve got my rainwater collection system.

Yesterday’s storm (with a few drops from Thursday) totaled nearly 2.5 inches. That was enough to completely fill my rain barrels, giving me another 260 gallons of water for irrigation.

A side note about the rain gauge: I put this up a month ago, as part of dealing with leftovers from my parents’ home. This was a Christmas gift to my dad many years ago and I’m happy to provide it a new home. It took me a while to figure out where to put it, since I didn’t want it to be “influenced” by trees or buildings. The only good place I found is on my grape trellis I installed in 2010. Now, it’s very accessible and a welcome addition to my garden.

Last year I had a pretty primitive system of rainwater collection and storage, just four garbage cans and five-gallon buckets for collecting rainwater. This year I’ve advanced considerably, with three rainwater catchment barrels in place and a fourth ready to be chained into the system. For more on this year’s new setup, see my earlier post, My rainwater catchment system. Now that I’m collecting more water, and collecting it on the lowest part of my property, I’ve been wanting to figure out a better system for using the water and moving it to where it is needed.

A friend came by a few weeks ago to see my setup and told me how he moves around his laundry grey water. He has a small pump, a Simer M40, that I liked because it has two hose bibs, making both input and output easy to use in the garden. I found one used on eBay and it arrived today. With warm weather the past week and wind on top of that, I needed to irrigate. Plus, we have a storm coming in next week and I want my catchment barrels to be empty and ready to collect more rainwater with the next storm.

So, I tested out the pump, both for irrigation and to empty out the barrels. The pump is small, so it doesn’t put out a lot of pressure. But, there is enough pressure to hook up my hose and water my plants. The real test came when I moved over two catchment barrels of water to garbage cans elsewhere in my yard. The pump was slow, taking 12 minutes to fill each garbage can and drain half of a catchment barrel. But, it worked and I was able to do other yard work while the transfer took place. I now have 130 gallons of water stored in garbage cans and will have capacity to collect another 260 gallons of water with the coming spring storms. I like this setup! I’m thinking I might even get another container, a 200 gallon surplus food container, to put under my front window, then I can store water to irrigate my front yard once or twice during the summer. The pump could be used to move rainwater from a collection site to that tank.

Last year I experimented with saving rainwater for irrigation. I bought four 32 gallon garbage cans and filled them up from five-gallon buckets I used as collectors. It worked, but was pretty inefficient, to say the least. However, at the end of the season, I noticed that my neighbors’ little one-stall garage, which backs up to the property line, drained into my yard. (more…)

Here are a few shots of the planters themselves, to show how they are constructed. The green planters were made following my friend’s instructions, by cutting out a section of the plastic tub’s lid the size and shape of the tub’s interior about five inches off the bottom (the height of the pond baskets that drop into the water reservoir). While this results in a large tub, it is very time-consuming to do this.

Me second approach (more…)

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