I dedicate this entry to my Papa who’s Birthday it is today.

RAIN BARRELS!!!

Rain Barrel 1

When I was growing up in Miami my Nana and Papa always had rain barrels, buckets and other rain catching devices outside of their house. They were there to water plants and anything else you may have needed rainwater for. I always thought the water from the sky was purer, realer than from a hose or sink. That rain contained magic that eluded processed water. That’s why my Papa collected water from the sky, while neighbors used their sprinklers. My Papa, he has always been close to the earth and a bit magical.

I was thinking last night, after a day of driving in the rain, I have a million plants I need to water a week, I also have a fire escape, and rain, so what am I waiting for. I can save natural resources by watering my plants with rainwater and also infuse some of that magic into their lives. :D

Below I will list steps on how to build your own rain barrel system for people who live in a house and where to buy them as well. For now, I’m going to cut off the top to a couple of soda bottles and put them on my fire escape, until I come up with a better way. I want to see if I can use stuff I already have instead of buying more stuff. As I look out my windows right now it is a gorgeous, sunny day. Watch, it probably won’t rain for weeks! I will build my first system today. I already have an old, wooden box on the fire escape to use as my base.

Wood Box

I will update with more photos when done…

Southwest Florida Water Management District’s web site has a great how-to rain barrel your life section. There’s even a video. :)

Rain Barrel

Building your own rain barrel

Decide where to place the barrel — many people put them under a downspout for easy attachment. Also consider the distance to your plants, gardens and flowerbeds.

If you don’t have gutters, put the barrel under a valley in the roof that sheds a lot of water. Be sure to put a screen over the open barrel to keep out debris, small animals and insects. This will take a lot longer to fill, but may be more practical for your location.

Step 1. Clean the barrel

Use food-quality containers, not ones that held harsh chemicals. Rinse the inside of the barrel with vinegar or lemon juice [Thanks Sue] and 5 gallons of water to wash away food or juice remnants.

Step 2. Install a hose spigot

To install a 3/4″ hose spigot, drill a 15/16″ hole for the spigot threading just a few inches from the bottom of the barrel. This will provide a few inches of clearance for attaching a hose or filling a watering can and allow for debris to settle below the outlet to reduce clogging.

Step 3. Build a platform

Concrete cinder blocks provide a strong, stable and level platform for your rain barrel. If you use more than one layer of blocks, stack them in a crisscross pattern so they won’t tip over.

Step 4. Connect downspout to barrel

Position the barrel at its set height and measure where you need to cut or disconnect your downspout. Often you can disassemble the downspout at the gutter by taking out screws or drilling out rivets. If you do have to cut it off, use a fine-toothed hacksaw blade or tin snips.

A flexible downspout extender makes an easy transition from the downspout to your barrel lid and eliminates the need for exact measurement because it bends and stretches to the length you need.

Step 5. Cut barrel opening

Place the downspout connection in the barrel. If your barrel comes with a lid, or if it has a sealed top, you will need to cut a hole in it.

Overflows and multiple barrels

You may want to connect an overflow pipe or link multiple barrels together. An overflow pipe will carry excess water that would normally overflow the barrel to another part of the yard or into another rain barrel; this is a great way to reduce water around the foundation of your house during rain.

I also found a cool alternative to downspouts, Kusari Doi [rain chains]. In Japan, Kusari-Doi or “rain chains” have been used for hundreds of years, copper rain chains can be found on homes, gardens and temples throughout Japan.

Lily

According to ValesGreenhouse.com,

“Rain Chains replace the traditional downspout on a typical household gutter system. They are a unique decorative accent to your house, while maintaining the functionality of a traditional downspout. With rain chains, you can actually see the water as it clings to the chains, or funnels through the cups, as it makes its way to the ground. The look and sound of the cascading water is mesmerizing. Rain Chains have been in use in Japan for hundreds of years. The Japanese name for Rain Chain is Kusari Doi. The copper variety will gain a rustic and timeless verdigris patina colour as it ages. They are a perfect accent to any home, and they are an endless conversation piece. Let a vine climb up for the summer and be amazed when you see the ice on it in the winter.

Rain Chains are 8 feet in length and attach very easily from the hole where the downspout was. All you may need is a screwdriver. Each chain is provided with a hanging hook that adjusts to fit virtually any gutter hole.”

I think they look beautiful. There is even a site I found where you can build your own “Globe Link” Kusari Doi.

Globe

I love new projects.

-Cara

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The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 70 percent of the world’s commercial fish stocks are fully exploited, overfished, or collapsed. To supply surging world demand, fishers use rapacious techniques, such as sonar, driftnets, longlines, dredgers, and leviathan fish-packing vessels. In the case of longlining, 4.5 million hooks are launched daily. A third of the world’s harvested fish go to feed livestock or farmed fish. The ocean’s interconnected ecosystem simply cannot keep pace. Now, 90 percent of the coveted top predator fish are gone. Consequently, fishers have moved down the food web to species once considered “trash.” These species, of course, are the food source of the fish that were initially overfished. In 2006, a report published in the journal Science gave the world until 2048 for all wild commercial stocks to be wiped out. The world could be left to fish nothing but jellyfish and bait.
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