What I Shed Today

lightening up a little at a time

yucky rainwater capture system

on May 26, 2014

I didn’t do much gardening during the 2010–12 southeastern United States drought. While watering food gardens was permitted under the restrictions that otherwise severely curbed outdoor water use, it seemed the civic thing to limit consumption as much as we could. I did grow a few plants in containers, which I kept moist with what rainwater I could capture in water garden tubs I placed under a low place in our gutter.

my garden's reservoir

my garden’s former (and unsatisfactory) reservoir

I’ll spare details, but I supplemented the meager rainfall with water from our showers. Nothing about the system was pretty; oak leaves turned the water tannin-brown and mosquitoes reveled in it, but it worked. Our heirloom okra grew, flowered and fruited, and therefore survived.

I’ve wanted to build a better system, however, which ultimately will require repairing the gutter and doing some drainpipe plumbing. It’s not hard, and I’ve already converted one plastic trash barrel to a cistern. It just takes taking the first steps. Today I achieved at least that much. I strained the water in the tubs and bucket into barrels and added the leaves to a compost pile.

the new, temporary solution

the new, temporary solution

I’ll scrub down the water garden tubs and try to sell them on craigslist. They’re left over from my “more is more” days. We still have our first plastic pool, which has capacity enough for a water lily and a goldfish who does mosquito abatement duty. I enjoy having embraced that enough is just right.

Our Nymphaea “James Brydon” is 17 years old; it celebrated the beginning of summer with this bloom.

Our Nymphaea “James Brydon” is 17 years old; it celebrated the beginning of summer with this bloom.

shedding style: resell
destination: craigslist

Comments welcome … have you noticed that it’s easier to do a good job of taking care of less than a lousy job of managing more?


6 responses to “yucky rainwater capture system

  1. Collecting rainwater is an important part of our garden routine – even here in west Wales – but we keep all the water butts covered, which really helps with the whole leaves/insects/stagnant water issues.
    I am trying to be restrained in the garden – not getting overexcited when buying seeds, for example, but I could be better at it!

    • revdarkwater says:

      Love having lids on it now! I won’t be collecting any more rainwater till I plumb the system, but I can capture greywater enough for my present needs, and carry it in buckets. Later, though, even with good mulching practice, I’ll probably have to irrigate some, or accept less productivity or even losses. Do you have any ideas for getting water up a modest incline? Some simple hand-operated pump? The beds are about 100′ from where my barrel-cisterns will be, and perhaps 3-5′ in elevation higher. I could raise the barrels and let gravity move it, but that would require a substantial construction project, since that much water is heavy.

      • I know someone who discovered an old septic tank under his garden that was no longer in operation because the house had been connected to the main sewer. He decided to use it for rainwater storage and managed to find an old hand pump on ebay, which works a treat. Here, Mr Snail has a small electric pump that connects to his drill and will move water a few feet uphill, however, our best approach has been to have one of our water butts on a tall stand and make use of gravity… but we only needed it to be raised a couple of feet.

  2. Julie Buhite says:

    Yes, I have noticed that “it’s easier to do a good job of taking care of less than a lousy job of managing more”. I find that there’s so much to it, including building character, strength and resolve. Discovered your great blog through JoshDaddy. What a find!

    • revdarkwater says:

      Thanks! Yes, at heart our projects aren’t about rebalancing order and chaos but the character of our lives. Fortunately the doing of the work shapes the soul! And joshdaddy has a fine mind and great heart; he inspires me.

  3. […] to us we don’t have to do so anymore. We’ve downsized to a modest tub, in which our 19-year-old “James Brydon” can still thrive. I listed the liner, stand, and cuttings from the lily for sale, and today handed […]

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