Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Building the Rain Barrel

So yesterday I said I would share a little about the construction of the rain barrel. I only built one, and it cost me about $15 and maybe thirty minutes of my time. Of course that isn't counting the time it took me to find tools in my disorganized garage turned shop.
Anyway, that is a savings of $25 compared to the barrel I found for $40, and most cost around $100 or more. Here is a photo of the barrel attached to my downspout.

You can see it is a basic 55-gallon drum from a food manufacturer. I asked what it was used for and they had received diced tomatoes in it, so no nasty chemicals or anything. I started by rinsing it out. I then used a 1/4 wood bit to drill a hole in the bottom to attach a garden hose. I purchased a 1/2 inch boiler drain from the hardware store and with the 3/4 bit, it made a hole slightly smaller than the threads, so all I did was screwed the valve in the hole and let the threads sort of self tap their way in. I wasn't sure if it would seal, but it did. If it ever breaks the seal, I'll probably just unscrew the valve (after draining the barrel) and apply some Teflon tape to the threads or use some caulk or something to give it a good seal. Here is a bad photo of the valve and bit.

Once it was hooked up to the downspout, it filled up and was overflowing with a 1/2 inch of rain, so I followed the same steps to install an overflow valve at the top. I am not too worried about the seal on it and have a hose running to a nearby tree/bush.

So, why use a rain barrel in Arkansas, where our rainfall is evenly spread out? Well, my thinking is that by using only natural water on the vegetable garden that plants may grow a little better. The water from the local water authority is fine, but it does contain some chemicals (chlorine, flouride, etc.) and it is pretty cold out of the tap. Also, we get charged for the water and sewer even though our outside water is headed straight for the good old water cycle. And on the "green" side of things, every little bit of water that we don't pull from the public water supply will decrease demand and make life easier during the rare drought conditions.

If you have any questions or suggestions, leave me a comment. We are supposed to have a little more cold weather here in Northwest Arkansas, but once that is finished, I'll try to show you how to make one of these big ole barrels into a composter. It is all ready done, but trapped in my garage.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Preparing for Summer

So the last few days have been very busy with guests and extra work to be done around the house. During the middle of everything I decided to take on a couple of extra tasks.
First on the list was to make some rain barrels. I had been trying to find some 55-gallon plastic barrels to use on the garden and everywhere that normally had them was out of stock whenever I called. I picked up a pre-made rain barrel, complete with hydrant at a local farm store for about $40. That was the cheapest I had found them, but I kept hunting for more. I finally lucked out and found two 55-gallon plastic barrels at a local food manufacturer and the lids were just right that I decided to create a composter out of one of them. Each barrel cost $8.
Once I found the barrels, I went to the local family owned hardware store and bought a couple of hydrants to hook up to a water hose. They installed pretty easy and only cost $3 each.
I also installed 20-feet of guttering on the back of my house so I could collect more rainwater in the barrels and rushed around to get that done on Sunday before a storm rolled in. The storm held off until Tuesday morning and I was very happy to see when I woke up that the barrel was allready full with only a half-inch of rain.
For those that are interested, I'll post more on the construction part later.