If you are a gardener you probably already do a bit composting to recycle yard and kitchen waste. This homemade "Black Gold" does wonders for your plants and soil. But, have you discovered the gardening benefits of harvesting and recycling rainwater to use in the garden?
Many communities nationwide are experiencing either short-term or long-term water shortages. Some communities have begun rationing programs and impose fines if a homeowner uses too much water. Why not try some simple rainwater harvesting techniques and use the water to irrigate your garden? You'll be able to water your plants when they need it and you may see a bit of savings on your water bill at the same time.
Harvesting rainwater is as simple as placing a rain barrel under a roof gutter downspout. Practically any large, clean container can be used as a rain barrel. For instance, you can use a plastic or metal trash can. However, there are major benefits to using commercially designed rain barrels. Features of commercially available rain barrels include: childproof and pet-proof lids, mosquito screens, overflow hardware, spigots for attaching hoses, and the ability to link multiple barrels together. These features make using your rainwater much easier and safer. Many city water departments will give homeowners a rebate on their water bill if they buy a rain barrel.
You can find durable, heavy-duty rainbarrels at most home improvement stores and garden centers. You can also order them from online suppliers. These rain barrels can be quite attractive also. Some are made to look like traditional round wooden barrels while some are square, or half-round to provide versatility and style when placing one beside your house. Some rain barrels currently on the market are made from recycled shipping containers for Mediterranean foods such as olives.
What are some of the advantages of collecting rainwater for use in your garden? For starters, you will be doing your part to conserve both water and energy. When you use rainwater you will not be using your municipal drinking water and will not be using the energy it takes to pump it to your house. It's free, so you won't be billed for it! Rainwater is fresh and naturally low in salt and chlorine so it's good for your plants. Most of the time it is not cold and won't shock your plants like water from an underground source can do.
Your grandparents probably used rain barrels to irrigate their gardens. Why not try something old to solve a new problem and conserve water by using a rain barrel? Even if you live in an area with very little annual rainfall you will be amazed when your rain barrel fills up after just one or two rain showers.
Article by Amy Passmore for Waterwise Ways. Visit Waterwise Ways for more information on conserving water in your home and garden.
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