When I bought my drip hose I got one that would be long enough for this doubled garden area. With it connected to my rain barrel I should be able to keep my garden watered pretty well.
Since I had a rain barrel I wanted to add a little automation to it. The best time to water is early in the morning, before the sun has come up. of course, early in the morning I need to be off to work. To help me out I purchased an Automatic Water Timer and some soaker hose. After hooking it all up I was quite pleased with myself.
It took me a while to realize it, the automatic timer wasn’t working. It never actually came on. The problem was that I was testing it by hooking it to the house water line then, when it worked fine, I put it back on the barrel. Apparently (obviously now), there are two kinds of automatic timers. The kind that use the high pressure of city water lines to actuate and the kind I need for a gravity fed system.
When you get your own make sure it’s one that operates at 0 PSI, not just the kind that works with low pressure soaker hoses.
I ended up ordering a Solar Rain Barrel Timer online, which says it can operate at 0-80 psi. I couldn't find anything similar in any of my local hardware stores and this one seemed the best for the price.
This 55 gallon rain barrel collects and stores water for watering. I had trouble finding one of these used. I didn't want to pay for a new one, $80 just isn't in my price range. Finally I friend had this lying around in his woods so he gave it to me. I can't really beat free.
There was some patching required, notably almost the entire base was cut out and in the top was missing it's screw in plug. To fix the missing plug I used a disc cut from a plastic paint can lid on each side and silicone gel to hold it all together.
The large square hole is covered with netting to keep out mosquitoes and debris.
Here's the current setup. The gutter system captures less than a quarter of my roof area but even an inch of rain fills the barrel. I think I have space to add an additional barrel if I could find one on the cheap.
The lettuce is coming in, but the celery did not. The carrots are coming in, but the spinach is not. The Sugar Snaps are doing great but neither the tomato nor the pepper plant came up. The lettuce came in really well so I thinned by transplanting a dozen or so to where I had planted the celery. I bought a few tomato and pepper plants a week ago and planted them. They are doing well and I look forward to eating them. The watermelons have sprouted.
I weeded my gardens today. It's so much easier to do when the dirt has never been stepped on.
I have taken to a strange practice with my rain barrel. I grow catnip in it. Maybe none of the reasons I do it are any good but here they are anyway. First, because I can. Catnip grows very easily and quickly puts out roots in water. Secondly, I have found the water, if left to it's self, will start to smell bad. With a plant growing in it that usually goes away. I suspect that the catnip feeds off bird droppings and other dead plant life such as algae that sometimes grows.. Thirdly, I found that catnip is a pretty good deterrent to ants. If I can water with a natural ant deterrent then I will. I'll never forget the nightmare of stepping onto the walkway of my garden to find that it woke up the colony. I've since planted some catnip in that spot and I haven't had trouble since, but spreading the love around is OK with me.
Maybe I'm just crazy but I feel like this helps.
I planted a few seeds this evening. In Garden #1 I planted a square each of spinach and carrots next to the garlic.
In Garden #2 I planted lettuce, celery, sugar snaps, watermelon, Old German tomato and bell pepper. I was careful to not plant the tomato and pepper too close to where I had the tomatoes last year. The watermelon seeds are left over from the watermelon that grew last year.
I forgot to update on the rain barrel. It works quite well for me. The gutter system captures less than a quarter of my roof area but even an inch of rain fills the barrel. I think I have space to add an additional barrel if I could find one on the cheap.
I am nearly finished getting my rain barrel system up and running. On the 'need to do' list is add mosquito netting, raise the barrel up on blocks and install the gutter system. On the 'I'd like to do' list I have a water level indicator and secondary barrels. If a really good solution presents it's self for a water level indicator I will probably add one of those.
I'm always on the lookout for a free solution to a problem. I had a spare bed skirt that was headed to the trash, before tossing it I evaluated it for possible use as a mosquito net. It seems to be fairly tightly woven, which would keep out mosquitoes but not too tight as to keep out water. I think it'll work fairly well. I cut out a section to fit over the hole in the top. Using silicone directly between the barrel and the fabric I laid it out. I cut the section large enough to leave a decent amount of slack. by pressing down slightly on the fabric against the barrel the silicon seems to permeate the fabric which I hope will provide a good seal. This solution is cheap enough that if I need to get back inside the barrel (like for adding a water level indicator) I can tear it out without feeling like I wasted money.
I've never enjoyed using a hose to water with. Any attachment I use always seems to find a way to leak and spray water all over me. Then I feel rushed because this water is soaking either my face or my shoes and I am hurrying to finish so I can escape. A watering can would allow me to have a more relaxed experience. I can fill it from the rain barrel and be relaxed when doing that too.
Only problem is, I don't really like most of the watering cans that I have seen. they are either clunky or just pour straight out, without a nozzle. Somewhere I saw a watering can with the head parallel to the stem rather than perpendicular. It seems like it will provide a more even stream with less tipping required. That's my kind of solution. I looked at several stores and couldn't find one like it. After much searching online I found the one I was looking for. It's the Dramm Watering Can. It costs a little more than I wanted to spend on a watering can but I think it'll be worth it.
I was looking to find a rain barrel at a decent price, but it was proving difficult. I don't really want to pay $80-120.
This past Saturday I was playing paintball over at a friends house and happened upon a barrel in his woods. I brought it up to him and before I could ask he offered it to me.
There was some patching required, notably almost the entire base was cut out and in the top was missing its screw in plug.
To fix the missing plug I used a disc cut from a plastic paint can lid on each side and silicone gel to hold it all together. I filed in the whole gap with silicon, I'm not certain that was necessary.
I also added a faucet. I filled the barrel up 1/4 of the way and all the seals on that end seem to be holding.
I will finish the rain barrel by covering the hole in the top with some mesh to keep out mosquitoes and other debris. I'll place the whole thing on a few blocks and after I install gutters I'll run the downspout into the barrel. I have a fairly large surface area on my roof so I should fill the barrel with less than an inch of rain.