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Refreshing Harvest: 8 Simple Steps to Catch Rainwater for Your Garden


Does your blood boil when you see a sprinkler watering concrete? Do you become infuriated when you see a large, runoff puddle clearly formed from a hose that's seeping water? Both previous scenarios drive me to madness! It's not that I'm anti-watering, or against giving grass and flowers a sprinkle every so often. But I am definitely for preserving and protecting water, and using natural resources to give green things a spritz. One way to harness the glorious goodness of water is by harnessing rainwater.

According to the article "A Better Way to Harvest Rainwater" by Cheryl Long at Mother Earth News, more than 900 gallons of rainwater can run off the top of a 30-by-50 foot roof. Putting all that viable water to good use is simple and relatively low-cost once you've constructed a sturdy rain barrel or water stock tank.

  • Add an extension to a downspout from your home or garage and direct the runoff into a barrel or stock tank. Or, cut off a downspout and fit a barrel under it.
  • Drill holes in old garden hoses and use screw-on caps to plug the ends of the hoses that aren’t connected to the barrel. (MEN note: “this setup may not have enough water pressure to work with the kind of porous soaker hoses often sold in garden stores.")
  • Head to the store: get “a bulkhead fitting (about 3 inches in diameter) to let water flow out of a hole you’ll drill into your barrel or tank, plus fittings and a manifold with multiple outlets for attaching hoses to the bulkhead.”
  • Cut a hole the size of the bulkhead purchased that fits into the side of the barrel. (If you have a commercially made rain barrel, it may have a small hole drilled in it with a spigot. Carve your new hole beside that.) Place the hole near the bottom of the barrel (as the barrel fills with water, the pressure will push the water out through the soaker hose).
  • Once the hole is carved, install the bulkhead fitting. Connect it to the manifold and screw the open ends of your hose onto the manifold.
  • Place the hose on the area of your garden or lawn you want to water when it rains. (note: “if possible, rake a shallow depression into the surface of your garden rows or beds to help hold the rainwater from the hoses, as it’s flowing into your plants’ root zones.”)
  • If you get a lot of rain in your corner of the world, add shut-off valves on the hose outlets and a diverter on the downspout to "direct water from the downspout out into your yard when the garden would be harmed by excess water."
  • Check your hoses during the first rainfall. Too much water coming out? Tape some holes. Not enough? Drill a few more!
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From the Organic Authority Files


Image: Will Merydith

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