Wednesday, October 24, 2007


We've had rain the last couple of days - most of it has been light and sporadic, but it's rain. There's a little over an inch in the rain gauge and perhaps more to come. The good news is that it seemed to rain heavier a little to the south of us - which could be good news for the Georgia lakes, which are so low.

If you haven't heard, Atlanta (a rather large city) has only 90 days of water left. There has finally been lots of discussion about water management processes. My only hope is that water management and city planners and citizens will take a good long look at long standing practices and change. My fear is that those planners and citizens will get over this crisis and go back to living like they always have. On a recent trip down to Georgia, I heard one person complain that they hadn't been able to go boating this summer. That was their biggest concern. How about drinking? Hmm.

rain barrel

But on to the topic I planned to start with - rain barrels. I love our rain barrel and we are adding more (the plan is one to every corner, for all the beds surrounding the house). We don't have a huge problem with water runoff waste out here in the middle of nowhere. Generally it all comes from the roof, but there is a lot off the roof that we could use on our plants. The best way to gather that water is with rain barrels. If I had the budget to retrofit our house right now, I'd add a large cistern under the porch to gather all the rain water off of our roof. For now the barrel is doing well. We bought ours through a local non-profit and paid a little less than retail. Looking at the barrel, it would be easy to make your own - I've seen many versions. Here's one with directions for a rain garden as well! Rain gardens are a whole other topic. I'll just say I love them and they are a great spot to grow incredible plants.

Our rain barrel will fill with about a 1/4 to 1/2 inch of rain - that's 65 gallons of water off of one small side of our roof. We've used ours to water the vegetable garden in the past, but this year I concentrated on using it to keep a bunch of young hydrangeas alive. And it worked. I placed a soaker hose on the spigot and let gravity force the water to slowly and conservatively water them. All are doing well. I don't think they would have survived without it. I put a pretty tight restriction on watering ornamentals over the summer, prefering to limit watering to the things we eat.

If you don't have a rain barrel or two, I encourage you to build or buy your own. Make it a project for the winter. You'll be able to use it in the spring to water all those seedlings.


  1. "My fear is that those planners and citizens will get over this crisis and go back to living like they always have"
    That's my fear too Maggie.
    By the way---we were in NC this past weekend and some of the streams/lakes there aren't looking too good either.
    Sigh......more rain and more change definitely needed.

  2. I found your blog through the American Rivers blog, where they mentioned your water saving technique. I'm very interested in this, but I currently live in a mobile home - rather flat roof and no gutters. However, I won't be here forever and this is a great idea!

    Oh, and have you washed your hair with the rainwater yet? I've done that and it is very good for your hair.

  3. Monica - We can only hope that people get some sense...

    ann - Welcome! Rainbarrels are so easy. I have washed my hair with rain water (although it's been awhile and a continent away), and it is good.