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Discussion Starter #1
Right now, my garden is getting a lovely watering. We're fortunate to be enjoying a summer with a nice mix of rain and sun. I know many people all over the world right now are suffering through a hot, dry summer, and often, serious local drought. This is a real problem - the Southwestern Drought is essentially expected not to end in our lifetimes. Much of the best farmland in the world is now in drought conditions. We're deeply grateful that our land is pretty well situated for water. Still, we don't take it for granted. We mulch our gardens, pour our dishwashing liquid and cooled cooking water on the potted plants, use a composting toilet and otherwise focus a lot of energy on the conservation of water, simply because we don't like waste, and because the time may come when these practices will be necessary.

Which is why it is so urgent that, whenever possible, we keep collect water off our roofs. Water that hits asphalt or gravel represents a real management problem for towns and cities, causing flooding, and when it soaks into sewers, it is contaminated. It would be wiser to catch water as much as possible where it strikes the ground and make the best use we can of it - for irrigation, clothes washing, hair washing. I was horrified to learn that some American cities prohibit rainbarrels - personally, I think this is madness. I understand that dry areas depend on their runoff, but in many cases, such a large portion is lost or contaminated in heavy rainfall that allowing homeowners to capture a few hundred gallons would represent a signficant net benefit. And because industrial agriculture always uses more water than growing your own food, if people are capturing rain water for irrigation, that has even greater net benefits. We simply can't afford to let this resource go.

The simplest option here is a rainbarrel - any food grade plastic barrel will do, and there are cheap ones out there, or you can get something pretty and fancy that will make your homeowner's association happy. Hook it up to your gutters, and you are set to go. A few more and you've got more. You can put a couple on your barn, or your garage as well, or even your garden shed, so water things there.

Even better for us, is the cistern. This house came with an old one, but after several failed attempts to fix it, we're waiting to have the gentleman come and dig us another one. The beauty of the cistern is that it can collect vastly more water (5,000 gallons - our rainbarrels together can only collect 200), and because it is set in the ground below the frost line, won't freeze. The whole set up, including a hand pump for our kitchen sink costs about $1800 dollars - not cheap, but worth it for the security of non-electric, soft water (our well water is hard as nails and has sulfur and iron galore) that comes into the house without going out with a bucket. It cost only a little more than a manual pump on our drilled well.

Rainwater is great for irrigation, and some people even raise fish in their rain barrels. I can't help you much there, but I do know that I love the way my hair feels when it is washed with rainwater. I can't wait for the cistern to be finished!

Sharon
www.casaubonsbook.blogspot.com
 

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Sharon, I loved reading your blog, where you called a knitter, a he! My father used to knit great mittens and sweaters with pretty patterns on 4 needles. He learned when he was with the Norwegian merchant marine. My friends have told me that men also knit in Turkey. (I tried to respond with this on your blog, but couldn't make it work). Nice to hear your husband knits as well! best wishes, ldc
 

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In Remembrance
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In some places, like the state of Colorado, it is illegal to catch rainwater or recycle grey water! I'm glad Texas is more enlightened on the subject. I have a 1500 gal rain catch cistern, tho the turkeys knocked the downspouts loose and they need to be put back.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Hi LDC -

Thanks for the compliment. My husband knits, my five year old son is knitting, and he has a "knitting club" with his six and 8 year old neighbors, both boys. I think that knitting, like building things, is too much fun not to do just because of your sex :) .

Cheers,

Sharon
 

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Icelandic Sheep
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Question:

Isn't collected roof water contaminated? After it runs off the roof? Is it safe to put it on the garden, etc. if you have asphalt shingles?

:) RedTartan

P.S. You should compile all 52 weeks of this into a book. I'm certain it would sell well.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Generally speaking the water that comes off your roof is fine for your garden - after all, presumably some of what comes off your roof runs down on your plantings anyway. If you are going to bathe in it, drink it, or other wise use it, though, you'd want to filter it, at least through sand. And if you put in a cistern, they'll generally have a "roof wash" function that allows you to divert the first few minutes of rain out of the cistern so that most of the bird poop gets washed out.

Thanks for the compliment about the book - I really appreciate it. I am writing one, atlhough on a slightly different subject.

Sharon
 
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