Monday, January 4, 2010

The Weekly Green - Tip 7

Tip #7 - Rainwater Harvesting - Easy and possibly FREE to do!

Why use tapwater when you could be filling up your watering can without lifting a finger?!  Here in Oregon, it is the rainy season right now (well, probably half of the rest of the year too!).  Rainwater harvesting can be for small or large scale uses from watering your household plants, to watering your outdoor garden!  It can be simple and smallscale or advanced and largescale - I wont touch the largescale techniques because, well, I don't really know how... but I've seen huge collection tanks you can bury under the ground - too advanced for me right now, but possibly someday in our future!

Simple and Small-scale:
You can simply place a container you already own outside for water collection: a watering can (that wont rust), a tupperware bin, a plastic milk jug or large water jug/container with the top cut off (try to leave the handle attached if you can, for easy pouring later!), or other type or container you have around your house!  I've reused a large spouted spring water container that has a handle attached to it like the one pictured to the right (like the Arrowhead brand, Poland brand, etc.) and I cut out an opening in the front/top so that the handle is still in tact, and I simply place it outside to collect water - the spout is handy for watering something small, and the handle is handy for carrying it around!  I've even used it to bring water for the chickens! If you live at an apartment or condo, you can put it out on the balcony, or hang it over the ledge (securely!) to catch the rainwater.

Gutter Collection:
If you have a gutter, you can be using it as a tool for water collection! First, you will want to determine weather or not you want to put some sort of a gutter-guard or mesh on top to filter out the debris - you don't really have to do this if you don't want to, but many people would rather do it (don't forget to periodically check for the leaves to be blocking the entrance or clogging, especially in the fall).  Locate your gutter's downspout, and place a container under it instead of letting the water drain out.  To catch the water, you can use something small like the "smallscale" ideas listed above, or something larger like a large tupperware container similar to the picture above/left (if you use this, you will want to either cut a hole in the lid for your spout to go through or empty into, or if you don't use the lid, put some sort of metal mesh on top so that leaves and other debris don't take over your water bin!).  For something even larger, you can use a clean trash can, with either a hold cut in the lid for the spout to go through, or with the top left open with a mesh covering the opening to filter the debris. There are also barrels you can purchase that have a spout attached so that you can either attach a hose to it, or pour water out into a watering can like you would with a faucet.  There are some available at Lehman's HERE (do a search for "rain barrel") and HERE at Yardiac (search for "rain barrel" on the left hand side), and I've seen them at Costco in the spring (gardening season!).  There are some that are very decorative like the one pictured below to the left, and some are more utilitarian like the one below on the right.

Stay tuned next week for Tip #8!

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