SHOP PRODUCTS
Houzz Logo Print
brit_n_rick

rain barrel watering question - need help

brit_n_rick
13 years ago

We are setting up a rain barrel system to water our 3000 sq ft garden and I wanted to get some advice...

We are using (3) 300 gal tanks as well as several 50 gal drums around our property. The plans are to store the (3) 300 gal tanks behind the garage (water from some of the house and all of the garage will be directed to these tanks). The garden sits approx 150 ft from the garage and we would prefer not to have to use a pump to get the water to the garden. We would like to only rely on gravity (ie. weight/pressure of the water in the tanks would "push" the water down and out into the hose). My question is whether 150-200 FT is TOO FAR for the water to travel on gravity alone? We use soaker hoses throughout the garden. Our yard is very level - no hills or dips anywhere.

If there isn't enough force to go that far... these were my other ideas...


#1 IDEA: Elevate the water tanks - build a wooden or steel frame for them to sit on (approx 10 ft in the air) to give it more "power".

#2 IDEA: Get a junk water pump and build a bicycle powered (person powered) pump. I could water my garden AND get my daily exercise at the same time... (This is the ultimate plan... but right now we have so many things going on that hubby doesn't have time to build my bike-pump now. Possibly for later in the summer...)

Any ideas or help from someone with more knowledge about this?

Oh - here is a pic of what the 300 gal tanks look like... and what our bike powered pump would look like...

THANK YOU!

{{gwi:28482}}

{{gwi:28483}}

Comments (28)

  • bsntech
    13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I've had quite a bit of work involved with my rain barrel system.

    I'm using 12 55-gallon drums. I built a raised platform so that they are all just under the gutters of the garage. After doing this, I setup PVC throughout the area and ran PVC all the way to the front garden. We're talking a good run of 3/4-inch PVC pipe - close to 100 feet.

    {{gwi:28484}}

    I have pretty good pressure - but I do not use soaker hoses. I'm just not so sure if you would have enough pressure to force the water out of the soaker hoses - even if you elevated them. you very well may need a pump if you plan to use soaker hoses.

    I use 1/2-inch PVC pipe throughout the garden with 1/16-inch holes drilled in it to deliver water directly to the plants and it works very well.

    This year I've put a ball valve between 9 of the barrels and the other three. The three barrels will be drained into containers just below that will make compost tea - then I'll pump the tea back into those three barrels and open up the ball valve between the barrels. By doing so, I basically am creating a 3 part water to 1 part compost tea mix that will be delivered via my irrigation system.

    {{gwi:28485}}

    Here is a link that might be useful: BsnTech Gardening Blog

  • wokney57
    13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    A 10 ft head of water is only about 4psi, minimum city water pressure is about 40. As the water level drops the pressure drops even further. I don't think the platforms are optional if you don't have a pump and even then it might take days to drain the tanks and a lot of fussing with the drip hoses.

    What's the goal here? Seems like REALLY expensive water to me. City water here costs about $1.20 for 1,000 gallons. I don't know your situation, but is water really that precious in east TX? Maybe you're getting the lumber, barrels, tubing, valves for free, if not I can't imagine how many gallons of water one could buy for all that $. It's certainly not practical.

  • Related Discussions

    questions about rain barrels

    Q

    Comments (1)
    I definitely wouldn't use it! I would suggest you look on Craigslist. They have all kinds of strange things on there. What is a bob?
    ...See More

    Rain Barrel Water Safe for Veg Garden?

    Q

    Comments (68)
    I have question regarding all of this. Today, my father and I cleaned 20 years worth of built-up sediment runoff from my house gutters. The roof is asphalt shingle, from 1996 and I don't believe the gutters have ever been cleaned until today. We had buckets of tarry black sludge, water and rocks that had unlodged from the shingles. When I wasn't looking, my dad decided to empty a few buckets worth of the liquid portion to reduce the weight. He didn't strain the liquid, he just poured off the top, so it was black nasty tar-water. And guess where he dumped it? In his septuagenarian wisdom he dumped that black water into my veggie garden because it wouldn't be as visible, since the soil was also dark. I am pretty upset about it and felt he basically turned the center of my garden into a contaminated brownfield site. I stopped him from pouring the final bucket in there once I noticed what he was doing, but already several had gone in. I appreciate that he wants to help out, but I never wanted him here to do this job; he imposed on me, sort of telling me it needed to be done. Now I'm thinking about dismantling the garden, raking it out and seeding with grass and giving up entirely on the idea. I don't want to eat from it anymore. I'm also upset that I had just planted some things in there not too long ago. The smell was foul from the sludge and I had to wash my hands 5 times with various soaps and pummus to get the odour out. Surely the tar-sediment which built up from sitting for 20 years in gutters is carcinogenic and awful for anyone to ingest. Are my fears reasonable? Will that stuff wash away by summer, or will it be absorbed by the plants and maybe give me a tumour some 15 years down the road? I'll always look back to this episode if that does happen and I kept eating from that garden...
    ...See More

    Tap water in rain barrels + newbie questions

    Q

    Comments (2)
    TML, 1. Chlorine from water is not a problem. CL2 dissipates from tap water within a day and not harmful in the concentration in drinking water to plants. SWCs would be even less so. 2. Every foot of vertical height of water equals roughly 0.5 psi. So to push water 12 feet, you need 6 psi + 20%. Have the barrels raised on the 1st floor somehow. Otherwise a pump that produces 25 psi and what ever flow rate you need. Even rig up the pump to come on when the water level in the SWC gets to a certain level. JMHO Aloha
    ...See More

    Rain Barrel, Water Storage

    Q

    Comments (4)
    EEEEKKKK ! I accidentally erased my response and now I have to type it all again ! I have a master gardener friend who used an empty 250-gal plastic storage container that's inside a metal cage. He got it at a place that sells sprinkler equipment. I saw them yesterday at the feed store (they're $100) and they used to be a Hawaiin Punch concentrate container. He has his behind his storage building, with the gutters on each side leading down through a Y tube to the container. Then he has it connected to the soaker system in his huge veggie garden, which is on a circuit so there isn't an end that doesn't get as much pressure as the beginning. He uses a sump pump to start the flow, then turns it off after a minute, and it continues on its own. It's very cool. It's an unsightly container, but could be easily camouflaged. Carol
    ...See More
  • bsntech
    13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    wokney -

    Yes, city water is cheap. It is also filled with chemicals. Notice that after a good rain, plants seem to respond MUCH better than using tap water?

    Certainly that is one of the reasons to use water. It also helps run-off, helps the environment, and allows you to store water in drought situations.

    You are definitely right - I bet I have over $600 - $700 in my rain barrel system - but it also took a few tweaks. I first started off thinking four would be enough - then found out how quickly that went out. Then I went to six - then nine - then 12. So, I had to change out lumber a few times because of that.

    Here is a link that might be useful: My Garden Blog

  • wordwiz
    13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    You could always pick up an inexpensive inline water pump. BTW, it will take nearly 2,000 gallons to provide 1" of water to 3,000 sq. ft. Of course, if you don't water the space between rows it would cut that down by 1/2 or more.

    Mike

  • pnbrown
    13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I agree with bsn, most municipalities add chlorine in sufficient concentrations to be really terrible for plants, especially food plants. Of course well water would be ok generally. Even that does not get as good a response as rain water.

    It is true that the up-front cost of rain collection can by high, but the equipment for the most part is durable - the heavy plastic barrels and pvc pipe and fittings are very long-lasting.

    Water will move under very low pressure, just more slowly. You could put full-bore 3/4 taps at the bottoms of the tanks and run 3/4 garden hose to the garden to fill buckets or watering cans. It might be necessary to dig a hole in the garden area to put buckets in to be filled, or you could bury a cattle tank and dip out of that. Lower tech is cheaper and more reliable. IME open rain barrels don't work with any kind of distribution system - clogs up too quickly. Must have an effective screening system for hoses and pipes to work.

  • alabamanicole
    13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I'm in the early stages of getting mine set up. In my case, I have a significant hillside to help, but I do expect the lower pressure to reduce the amount of water coming out of each drip by a fair amount.

    In the latter part of the summer, I am almost sure to run out of water, in which case I will be able to switch to tap, if needed, by connecting a different hose to the garden set up.

  • jonhughes
    13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I like Mike (who doesn't ;-)

    But really, what Mike said "BTW, it will take nearly 2,000 gallons to provide 1" of water to 3,000 sq. ft. Of course, if you don't water the space between rows it would cut that down by 1/2 or more."

    I water three times a week (sometimes more,depending on the heat), and that is 5000 gals a week, what kind of rain barrels could possibly work for that, I was going to buy a 5000 gallon water tank to collect rain water, but I don't need the water when it is raining, and when there is no rain, that 5000 gallons wouldn't last a week, and then there would be no rain to refill it, until it rains again, which then again, I wouldn't need it, if it was raining.

    It reminds me of the Banks, they don't want to loan you any money, unless you can convince them ,you don't need it ;-)

  • taz6122
    13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    JH I used to think you were one of the wiser on this site but if you're throwing conservation out the window I'd have to dissolve those thoughts. No amount of donating now is going to help us in the future if we don't have potable water. I've just started setting up rain barrels but have always collected water via buckets to use at a later date. Every little bit counts one way or the other.

  • eatsivy
    13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I find this an interesting topic, and I'm impressed with the systems I see in this discussion. I live in a place where our tap water is highly alkaline - I'm in the Rocky Mountains. I use a lot of tap water for our gardens, and I use some rain water. I have an interest in using more rain water, and I would like to get some rain barrels set up on a couple of my downspouts this year. (I'm going to keep it simple for now - I'll stick with running my drip irrigation lines off of our city water - my rain water system will start out as a barrel or two - will just dip into my planned-for rain barrels, to fill watering-can now and then).

    I use rain water when I can because it is soft (our local tap water is real hard - it is loaded with minerals that can become problematic as they become concentrated in our soils - can tie up nutrients and make roots work harder to take up water) Rain water is typically closer to neutral in its pH than our local tap water too - so the use of it doesn't have the effect of raising our soil pH (doesn't contribute to making the soil too alkaline).

    I've had good success growing our gardens with mostly city water, but its use does contribute to a raising of our soil pH. In an attempt to keep our soil pH lower/closer to neutral I do things like add a lot of compost to our veg beds, use some peat moss (when I can afford it, but trying to cut back on this type of input), when fertilizing trying to use cottonseed meal (it is a product with a lower pH than many ferts).

    Rain water is easy on my soil and the things living in my soil. I do many things to try and influence the health of my soil, and using rain water when it is available is one of those things.

  • girlgroupgirl
    13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    One summer I watered only using city water in dry months and it cost me $100 for 200 square feet of garden. That is not cheap. For $200 I purchased barrels and made 8 rain barrels and I've never paid another cent for water in the garden. What is the better deal? Someday I would love a gravity system, but I doubt that will be for a long time (we will have some slightly downhill gardens on a gentle slope). I have cisterns and we will be using electric hand pumps only to start and then move it along to some solar. I would imagine that you could have a pump system that could easily go from solar to bike, since you'd need a converter for either.

  • jonhughes
    13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hey Taz,
    I think conserving..... anything..... is wonderful and should be commended. albeit everything has a price and apparently I wasn't as clear as I had hoped in my explanation of the futility of saving rainwater (for my situation), I use 5000 gallons per week and the largest container I could get my hands on is 5000 Gallon Drum ( $ 2500.00), If I filled it to the rim, that would last 1 week, then I would be back on the tap until it rained again (which isn't very often during the summer season)

    Using Wokneys water price quote seen above "City water here costs about $1.20 for 1,000 gallons."

    That would be about $ 6.00

    Dividing that into the 2500.00 plus all the pumps and pipes to harness that much resource, it doesn't make any fiscal sense at this time, but thanks for looking out for me....

    BTW, Because I donate all of my fresh veggies to the foodbank, I did recently apply for a grant to purchase and install the 5000 Gallon system, so if I get the Grant , I will install it, but as I said earlier, after a single week of utilizing the free water, I'll be back on the tap...

    But like you mentioned "Every little bit counts one way or the other."

    {{gwi:28487}}

    {{gwi:28488}}

    {{gwi:28489}}

    {{gwi:15174}}

  • bsntech
    13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    jon -

    I certainly hope you have a HUGE roof to get 5,000 gallons a week!

    With my gardening beds and the rain barrel system I had last year, I had a capacity of approximately 500 gallons of water. It took about an inch of rain to fill the 500 gallons. I have a 24x24 garage roof that has all the water going to the barrels - then on our 24 x 45 house, we have five downspouts - and I have one of them diverted to the garage roof so it helps fill the barrels.

    Now with 12 55-gallon drums, I have a capacity of about 660 gallons. I think the barrels actually can hold more than 55 gallons each, but I may be wrong. Now, I am thinking about plugging up some of the downspouts on the house so more goes to the barrels since capacity has increased by 25%.

    I have about 430 square feet of gardening space. With the 500 gallon system, it took about two weeks to drain it without any additional rainfall for those two weeks (which did happen TWICE last year). Unfortunately - I don't think I watered some crops appropriately (like the corn), but everything else grew very well. Watering was done every two or three days - depending up any rainfall.

    Here is a link that might be useful: BsnTech Gardening Blog

  • jonhughes
    13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Howdy BSNTECH,
    No, I have a small roof 2500 square foot house,but my property is the basin for the surrounding lots, and all of the water that hits my acre ,I have running into a 15' hole I dug out and filled with drainage rock and a sump pump system,because I have no way to contain and store it, I pump it from the hole to the storm drain ;-(


    {{gwi:28490}}

  • wordwiz
    13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Last summer, even if I had a 10,000 gallon collection system, it would not have made a significant difference. We had one light shower in early August and next to no rain until late September and no significant rain until the middle of October.

    Our water costs are much higher - ~$3.80/1,000 gallons. And the sewage charge is triple that, though one can call the water works and tell them if one if filling a pool or such, and not be billed for sewage.

    Mike

  • alabamanicole
    13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    This is one of the advantages of NOT intensive gardening. And also of clay. And also of heavily mulching. And of not having raised beds, which evaporate faster. (Although I do have the last one.) You can get away with a lot less water. Our summers are very hot and dry. Rain comes in what we call pop-up thunderstorms -- 1/8" in 5-10 minutes of pouring rain about once every two weeks, and that's pretty much all we'll see until fall.

    I watered 3 times last year. Maybe 4. I could have had higher yields if I watered and I lost some tomatoes to cracking, but I still had far more than I could eat. Paying for chlorinated city water would have been far more expensive than buying local organic vegetables from a farmer, plus I got the exercise and got to chose my favorite varieties.

    For those who have no other options, we are able to pay to install a 2nd meter here for agricultural water at much cheaper rates. (I think this is hogwash since the water has to be re-treated the same way, but...) For some folks it might save some cash each month.

  • soilent_green
    13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Soaking every square inch of soil in a garden seems wasteful and totally unnecessary to me. If a person mulches and only waters when and where needed (the rows or the individual plants depending on what veggie it is), it seems one would not require all that water. When we get a 1/2 inch rain followed by a hot sunny dry period the mulched areas will stay moist for a week or more and the non-mulched areas will be dry in two days. IMO when I hear the pros say the garden needs an inch of water a week, I feel that is probably 100% correct for non-mulched gardens in arid regions and is overkill everywhere else.

    Properly mulched, my gardens can easily get by with 1 inch of rain every three weeks and still be very productive. It is a fourth or fifth week that starts to concern me and then I monitor moisture at soil depth and water accordingly with my "reserve" rainwater that I capture. Then I water only the rows and individual plants. My goal is to minimize plant stress until the rains come again, not to give them an inch of water a week whether they need it or not.

    Drought year? Then all bets are off for me regarding gardening. I use my rainwater till it is gone and then the gardens are on their own. I used to but no longer fight drought years. It happens - I accept it, harvest what I can, and look forward to the next season. The only plants I will then continue to water (with well water at that point) are plants from which I need to save seed.

    Does anyone actually check the soil moisture in their gardens? Skip the silly moisture meter gizmos - all one has to do is dig a hole in several random areas to see how moist the soil is at what depth. That should dictate the need or frequency of watering, not an arbitrary amount of days or what the surface soil looks like. Dry soil at surface does not necessarily mean it is time to water - it is meaningless to me once plants are established. It is all about moisture at root level.

    Of course plants in their fruiting stage obviously require more water. But that is simply another garden cycle to be aware of: which plants need more water based on what growth stage they are at, and which plants need less water. This knowledge can minimize water use as well.

    When one does water, watering in the evening is the best - watering in the morning or during the day is much more wasteful due to evaporation.

    I know folks who over-water because they are convinced 1 inch of water per week is absolutely required. They are the same folks who later in the season complain about the inevitable city water rationing, complain about their water bills, and complain about their produce rotting and the disease and insect problems there gardens are having. To top it off, they are the ones who do not collect so much as a drop of rainwater (a waste of time or too much hassle I am told when suggesting the idea).

    Conservation comes in many forms. Conserve municipal water by capturing and using rainwater. Conserve your captured rainwater by minimizing waste and watering strategically. It's all good. It all works. I commend the rainwater collectors.

    To the OP, unless you are completely off the grid, why not just acquire a pump system and be done with it? If not you would be better off hand-watering your veggies two 2 gallon watering cans at a carry. And water strategically...

    I use approx. 3000-4000 gallons of captured rainwater per season. I mostly hand-water my 7000+ sq. ft. of gardens (with the occasional helper which is appreciated). It is not that difficult or time consuming because I water on rotation and I water strategically.

    Regards,
    -Tom

  • pnbrown
    13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I hand-water mostly as well. It works, and it's not as difficult as some think. The big plus is as Tom and others say hand-watering gives one the time to get it where it's needed and any inclination to water where it isn't needed, vanishes.

    Today I drained a couple of 55 gallon rainbarrels with a garden hose by simple siphon - 150 feet of 3/4 hose with about two feet of drop at the most. Yet I was able to start the siphon with my lung-power quite easily. It took a while to move the water but was a heck of a lot easier than carrying. High-tech is not required by plants. Nor people.

  • glib
    13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I don't understand some of the comments here. Of course rain water is best, it will always carry some dissolved nitrogen and that is the best way to deliver nitrogen to growing plants. Plus plants have ways to detect a rainstorm and get ready for a big drink. Rain water being best has nothing to do with chlorine and everything to do with lighting and with plants capability to detect changes in pressure. Plus stored rain water, I have no proof but I am fairly sure, will lose dissolved N over time.

    Tap water has 0.2-0.4 ppm of chlorine, which means some 1 gram of chlorine for 1000 gallons, and I easily beat that amount of chlorine every time I fertilize with man made urea (plus some sodium). And if the garden has a lot of organic matter, that gram, along with the sodium, will be buffered instantly, many times over. So there you have it: I produce most of the sodium and chlorine getting into the garden, and I think it works very well and have no plans to stop it.

    My 2200 sqft garden need some 1000 gallons a week, which is 18 55 gallons drums, which is quite a facility. They have to be held high, as BSN says. Besides all this, some dry runs showed me the futility of it all. Last year for example we had a single big rain event, with three inches, over the months of July and August, which are really the only two that matter here. So I would have to embark in a big project, with multiple high barrels at every downspouts, to save myself a single watering event. And the house roof is smaller than the garden, so I don't see much potential there, big rainstorms max out any system, and I still have to water seedlings and small vegetables by hand.

    I have done many big projects in the garden, but mulch cuts watering in two, and drip cuts another 30% or so. That is more than a watering per season. Let municipalities do your rain storage through artificial reservoirs, they can do it far better than you can.

  • jonhughes
    13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Just as an FYI to "conserving water" I live one block from the Rogue River in Southern Oregon (Grants Pass), and I am sure that people who live in other parts of the world have it much different than me, but we really don't need to conserve water, we do it, but it is more because we are just trying to be good stewards of the land, not because it is necessary for us to do so, I just snapped this pic of one of my friends house who lives on the Rogue River and it has 12000 CUBIC FEET PER SECOND, flying by on its way to become salt water (Pacific Ocean), anyone who thinks good water is being wasted, is welcome to come on down here and store up for themselves all they want, but hurry up, there is 12000 CFPS turning into unusable salt water as we speak ;-)

    {{gwi:28491}}

  • taz6122
    13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago


    but we really don't need to conserve water

    You keep telling yourself that Jon.

    Not saving because you can't save enough is all the more reason to save IMO. Pumping runoff into a storm drain doesn't make sense to me either unless it's running off a nuclear power plant, parking lots or a bunch of old leaky equipment and even then if it flows through enough soil it gets filtered.
    I do applaud you for your donations but I'm starting to think it's more about recognition than anything else. Please forgive me if I'm wrong, I just don't trust that "Go big or go home" mentality.

  • glib
    13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    wow, Taz speaks as if the plastic barrel and support structures cost no resources or energy to make. What is the figure of merit, Taz? Should I spend $700 and 100 hours of work to save me one watering per year? How about forbidding driving, then we can save all runoff. And in a cheap, semi-sustainable way, because some caterpillars moving a huge pile of dirt is a fairly reversible process.

  • pnbrown
    13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Glib, I can tell you that when we used to use tap water for garden irrigation in west palm beach, florida, the foliage would look so bad a few hours afterward that it was alarming - one would wonder every time of they would recover. During a rainy period and no irrigation for days or weeks the plants would go nuts.

    I think the plant toxic chemicals in tap water can vary a lot in concentration depending on how they treat the water and probably other factors.

  • glib
    13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I don't doubt that you are telling the truth, PN. But then, probably that soil was near-pure sand with very little buffering capacity, and the chlorination was far exceeding the numbers I quoted above (valid for the Great Lakes region).

    Chlorinated water here does not even harm my mushroom logs, and I soak them in it for 15 hours to make them fruit, several times a year. They thrive in it. Sometimes I would put a tbsp of wood ash in the 55 gallon drum before filling (precisely to buffer chlorine), but not all the time. You could consider doing the same in your FL garden, perhaps using one of those siphons for drip irrigation, connected between tap and hose.

  • taz6122
    13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago


    wow, Taz speaks as if the plastic barrel and support structures cost no resources or energy to make. What is the figure of merit, Taz? Should I spend $700 and 100 hours of work to save me one watering per year?

    They're costing me nothing to make except for my time, a few bolts and some hose/pipe that I may have to buy. I'm getting the barrels and wood free and keeping them from going to a land fill.
    It's not about what it saves me on the water bill. Tap water costs resources to make.

    BTW Jon, I hope your friend is taking advantage of that water and using it on his property instead of using tap water.

  • glib
    13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Amazing statement, that the system is near free. Here is what I see at my site:

    1) house has a footprint of about 1300 sqft, but two of the six gutters are devoted to ostrich fern, a high water perennial. So is half the detached garage (to hardy kiwi), which has no gutters anyway. I have 1000 sqft to conserve into 2200 sqft of garden. None of this water runs off, it all percolates into the ground and supports trees and the water table.

    2) Need to replace gutter covers, because they stop leaves, but let in elm seeds. It is also a Cape Cod, with nooks and crannies in the roof where stuff congregates, decays and washes off. Things are much better now, since the ash trees died (also purveyors of small seeds), and I cut five spruce. No way to filter all that junk while tons of water are washing into the barrels. That will be quite a penny. Just to give you an idea, where my driveway empties into the lawn, I have to shovel elm seeds with a snow shovel in season.

    3) The facility (18 barrels) weighs a lot more than the garage, probably half the house. It needs its own concrete foundation, and good retainment. I am guessing it needs 150 ft of 4X4 and 300 ft of 2X4, plus bolts, etc. I cannot build it near the house or the city will get me. In the back of the garage, I need a nice 5 inches pipe (at least, it has to collect all the rain of 1000 ft during a rainstorm) running 60 ft through the lawn, at a slope of 1 inch per foot, with some nice posts in the middle of the lawn which I will bless every time I have to mow. The barrels may be free (I never found them, and I have two, each of which I paid $10), but I still have to take delivery, or make nine car trips (plus all the trips for the wood). That is no money? My barrels come from 27 miles out.

    4) The braising of the plastic barrels. I have no tools, and no one I know has them. They cost, and probably a couple of barrels will be lost. Now, to get into the 21 beds, I need 1500 ft of PVC, and probably 100 connectors and 100 elbows. If the system is to be done right, the end caps must be removable at the end of the season to flush the lines. I need valves in many places, because in August the tomatoes need zero water, and the celery, 2 inches a week.

    5) we are left with the simple matter of drilling holes. Perhaps as few as 2000 (but in beds with carrots or lettuce, you need many more), but because they are drilled, their overall area exceeds the area of the PVC, unlike, say, in drip irrigation. That means the system loses pressure quickly, and the far beds get a lot less water.

    And all this to save water that is insufficient, irregular in its supply, and ecologically clean but technically dirty.
    It has the appeal of being in liquid form, but there is a lot more of it being lost to evaporation (and mulch really is free). It is water I would never put in my drip system, and a drip system, also, is something that truly saves water, and can be put in in a couple of days of work, and it saves water whether it rains or not.

  • alabamanicole
    13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Glib,

    Your comments confuse me. You say you are anti-harvesting but in fact your ARE capturing rainwater for some of your plants. Rainwater catchment systems don't have to be made of up physical barrels, and no, 18 55 gallon barrels will not weigh more than your house. :)

    In my case, I am using two large tanks (recycled from their previous use) and a downspout adapter with a leaf/seed trap, first flush diverter and overflow. No foundation or retaining wall, instead I leveled the ground they are sitting on with a shovel. Some PVC pipes and fittings (less than 10' total) and some sweat equity. Finally, I am repurposing a garden hose I already have. The only new items are some PVC; the whole system should last 20 years or more.

    I am sure there are many rainwater systems which do not have a positive energy return for energy expended, or a financial one. But in and of themselves, they don't have to be negative. It's a matter of design and scale.

    I municipalities were so much better at this than any individual would be, there wouldn't be so many municipalities advocating home rainwater capture and xeriscaping.

  • glib
    13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    No, Nicole, I assure you my house weighs no more than several tons. Which means the facility would be about half the house. Of course I harvest water, who doesn't, but cheaply. From downspout to consumer. Besides the above, there is the downspout of a neighbor ending between two beds, and also a raspberry bed across the flow of water draining from my driveway.

  • taz6122
    13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Actually 18 full 55 gallon barrels weights about the same as an average 3 bdrm house. It's not like you have to keep them perfectly level though. That's just nit picking as is many of the points glib makes. Strategically placed valves will take care of the loss of pressure and I think mine were about $1 each. You don't have to water the whole garden at the same time. Your lack of tools is your own fault. My son had tools when he was 13. You must have zero friends if you know non with tools. I use regular garden hose and soaker hose for delivery. Some cheap L and T fittings between them, less than $1 ea. A pipe plug and hose clamp on the ends for draining. I think I'm going to change that to valves too though. A screen over the intake and outtake for a filter. My elms are done seeding before the season even gets started. My simple garden isn't very big though. I'm not making a business out of it. If you are then you could justify spending some of those earnings on it. I don't see the need for such a large operation if you're not. When you donate the goods to charity it's a tax deduction.
    The lights are on but nobody's home!