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Has anyone here tried this?  Done it, successfully?  It doesn't look all that difficult, if you have the skill in your hands but the truth is that I'm not all that handy with a variable speed drill, and since the idea behind this is not only to salvage and recycle some rain water but to save money over purchasing a ready-made rain barrel and, hopefully, on the water bill, too, I'd rather not mess it up, so I'll probably ask a drill-capable friend for some assistance.
Unless, of course, this is just not so good an idea as it seems.

I've been wanting a rain barrel, and I'm thinking of rain barrels more and more the further into the year we get: the various "Old Almanacs" and gardening guides are predicting disrupted weather patterns and, for my area, unusually high temperatures and drought, or what is considered drought in these parts.
This morning I stumbled across this DIY project:

http://www.bhg.com/gardening/yard/tools/make-a-rain-barrel-save-water/#page=1

http://www.bhg.com/gardening/yard/tools/make-a-rain-barrel-save-water/#page=2

...and from there you can click your way through the rest of the pages in the tutorial.

Am I mistaken in thinking this is a cool idea?
If you've done this---made your own water barrel or barrels---have you and do you consider it worth your while?  Cost effective?

It's an exciting idea, at least in theory, so I'm very keen to hear your input!
Thanks!

Comments

( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
loveshercoffee
Apr. 9th, 2014 04:36 pm (UTC)
I have one of those blue barrels that I've made into a rain barrel. I bought PVC pipe fittings that attach to the cap for the valve. I built a stand for it, turned it upside down and cut a hole in the bottom for the downspout to run the water into it. It was sooooo easy. As far as saving money, I don't really know. I put maybe $25 into it, including the price of the barrel. 55 gallons isn't that much water - it certainly isn't enough to water all of my raised beds, but I like that I'm doing it.
virginiadear
Apr. 9th, 2014 04:51 pm (UTC)
H'r'mm....not getting a clear visual on this one.
Are there PVC spigots? How do you turn the flow of water on and off when you want to use water from the barrel? (I'm sorry, I'm just not grasping how you did this. What is the "cap?")
Even though I'm not visualizing this in any practical way it does sound easy. And thank you for the materials costs estimates.

" it certainly isn't enough to water all of my raised beds, but I like that I'm doing it."

I like that you're doing it, too!

I know you can put overflow holes with tubing to carry the overflow rainwater into a second barrel and from there even into a third, so you could, if you were ambitious, collect more than fifty-five gallons.

I'm reckoning that every little bit helps. I'm also reckoning that if I'm going to do this, and do it this year, I'd better get cracking on it as directly as possible since now is our rainy season so now is the time to be collecting rainwater!

P.S. Where does one find one of these blue barrels?


ravenfeather
Apr. 10th, 2014 12:13 am (UTC)
I hate to butt in here, but I can answer that last question. Our local plumbing supply store (not a big box store) carries them. You can also find them on the internet. Just pay attention to where the "bung holes" are. Some are on the sides and some are on the tops. It depends on how you intend to set up your barrel catchment as to which you want.
virginiadear
Apr. 10th, 2014 01:02 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

I shall begin looking. :^)
loveshercoffee
Apr. 10th, 2014 11:39 am (UTC)
It's like this, only I have just one barrel. It's really quite easy as all the PVC parts just screw together. This kind of barrel doesn't have the top that lifts off so putting a tap in the side wouldn't work without cutting it off completely. Instead it has a bung hole cap and I used same-sized PVC fittings screwed into that opening.

I found this barrel at a yard sale for $5 about 9 or 10 years ago. It sat in my garden shed for about 3 or 4 years before I finally decided to put it together. I see these barrels on Craig's List quite often for $15 or so dollars. Car washes get their soaps in them as well and you would have to check, but I am almost certain they're required to be environmentally friendly and so would be safe for any non-potable water.

I'd love to have an entire row of these if I had the space to do it!
virginiadear
Apr. 10th, 2014 12:51 pm (UTC)
Ah-HAH!

Okay, did a bit of digging on the internet, and found this, which looks to be the same:
http://www.familyhandyman.com/smart-homeowner/how-to-build-a-rain-barrel/view-all#step1

I shall begin checking for suitable barrels, and if I don't find one I'll resort to using the large plastic/rubber trash bins.

Thank you!
mcsassypants
Apr. 9th, 2014 04:44 pm (UTC)
We built one of our own rainbarrels during a class through our co-op. It was fairly easy, the only thing I'd do differently is attached the spout further down on the barrel than where it is right now. Right now, we can't reach 1/3 of the water in the barrel because once it drops below the level of the spout, we can't get the water out.
virginiadear
Apr. 9th, 2014 04:55 pm (UTC)
Very cool!

"can't reach 1/3 of the water in the barrel because once it drops below the level of the spout, we can't get the water out. "

I suspected such might be the case when I saw where this tutorial placed that spigot! In my community, not even a rain barrel can sit directly on the ground: we have to have them elevated, so I'm thinking that the simple thing to do would be raise the barrel up on cinder blocks, and put the spigot in lower on the barrel's body.

:^)
threegoldfish
Apr. 9th, 2014 04:59 pm (UTC)
Both of my barrels were purchased but they've also got spigots on the bottom. The commercial one has a notch cut out of the bottom rim that lets a hose pass through to the connection so that it sits levels. My other one was constructed from a reclaimed 55 and has to be elevated to sit level. But in both of them it makes it really easy to drain them completely, especially for winter.
virginiadear
Apr. 9th, 2014 05:39 pm (UTC)
Ooh. I hadn't even thought about draining the barrels for winter, but it makes sense that one ought do that! Thank you! :^)
mcsassypants
Apr. 9th, 2014 05:09 pm (UTC)
yep, we were instructed to put our rainbarrels on cinder blocks to be higher up than ground level. Apparently it does help with draining the barrel and keeping it from tipping over..
virginiadear
Apr. 9th, 2014 05:41 pm (UTC)
H'mm. I get that having the barrel elevated would help with drainage, but that having it higher would help to keep it from tipping over seems counterintuitive.
mcsassypants
Apr. 9th, 2014 05:55 pm (UTC)
I think it's more of a matter of making sure it's on a level surface rather than lumpy ground and having it not be as stable.
virginiadear
Apr. 9th, 2014 07:33 pm (UTC)
Ah!

ravenfeather
Apr. 9th, 2014 04:57 pm (UTC)
I have not done it yet, but this is the one I intend to build:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Build-a-3-drum-rain-collection-system-better/

My garden club visited a HS in the northern part of the state (more north than me) that grew food for their cafeteria and had two of these on the corners of the buildings.
virginiadear
Apr. 9th, 2014 05:37 pm (UTC)
That looks awesomely efficient! Wow.

Even though you haven't done it yet, I take it you, too, think this is a good idea. ;^>

Edited at 2014-04-09 07:34 pm (UTC)
ravenfeather
Apr. 10th, 2014 12:10 am (UTC)
An excellent idea, yes. I live out in the middle of nowhere, with a non profit running our water company. The infrastructure is old, they don't have money to improve it. They don't have money to purchase water from a clean source, so we get water through our lines That frequently has to be boiled in order to use it, NOT related to the weather, and it is very expensive with a minimum of 1000 gallons. I rarely use 1000 gallons a month, but I still pay for it. There are so many chemicals in it that it turns laundry and plastic pink. Free water from the sky around here is... better IMO.
virginiadear
Apr. 10th, 2014 01:01 pm (UTC)
Wow.

"I live out in the middle of nowhere, with a non profit running our water company. The infrastructure is old, they don't have money to improve it. They don't have money to purchase water from a clean source, so we get water through our lines That frequently has to be boiled in order to use it, NOT related to the weather, and it is very expensive with a minimum of 1000 gallons. I rarely use 1000 gallons a month, but I still pay for it. There are so many chemicals in it that it turns laundry and plastic pink. Free water from the sky around here is... better IMO. "

This gives me an even greater appreciation for the clean, reliable city water I've always depended on and for which I pay very reasonable rates, than I've had up until now----and please believe me when I tell you I know my region is blessed with abundant fresh water, clean and potable after it goes through the city water treatment plants. (And if locals find their laundry turning pink, it's turning pink because they've gone and put something red and not colorfast in with the white items.
I agree that anything you can collect free from the sky is going to be better than what you've described.
That kind of gives me chills, and not in a good way, that description!
ravenfeather
Apr. 10th, 2014 07:11 pm (UTC)
I have owned this property for 21 years, and it was intended to be a retirement property for myself and my now ex husband. After we divorced I paid attention for decades to the local newspaper no matter where in the world I was located. When NatGas started being fracked in the ozarks (where I am located) it was the last straw. I looked elsewhere for property to move "home" to outside of the Fayetteville Shale Play. I found a place up on the Buffalo River (my college playground) that I never thought possible. There was no municipal anything out there, being a national park, no sewage, no water, nothing. Everyone used composting toilets and cisterned water that they captured and cleaned themselves. Sadly, my house took too long to sell (in GA) and it went off the market before I could get here. I was left with having to settle on my existing property.

I am not complaining, things generally work out for the best IMO and I am lucky to have had this as a fall back position. I feel strongly that we in this country treat CLEAN water as a LIMITLESS renewable resource and it is not. You are fortunate indeed to have a good source of clean water.
virginiadear
Apr. 10th, 2014 07:54 pm (UTC)
I'm within the Great Lakes watershed, specifically on one of the older (higher) shorelines of Lake Erie (about three major Lake levels ago.) As it's the smallest of the Lakes by volume, and as I've seen it through its dying, "The Great Swamp Erie Da-Da-Boom!" days, and its revitalization and its invasion by zebra mussels, I'm aware of our Lakes' vulnerabilities, especially Erie's.
I'm also aware that the Lake water here does have to be cleaned up before it can be used. (We're known for our crazy surfers who surf Lake Erie at Cleveland's Edgewater Park and farther east at the Mentor Headlands----in January; they attract other crazy surfers from all over, many of whom want to do it---once---just to be able to say they've done it---once. I don't know if this is better or worse than having been known for the Cuyahoga River having burned, not once but twice.)

Because Erie is so shallow, particularly in proportion to her breadth, she gets warmer in the summer than the other Lakes do, and we get a nose-wrinkling algae bloom in July-August (and sometimes into September.) It's not gross, but it's also not what the water smells like the rest of the year, either.
The water treatment plants can make it safe (the algae is toxic to mammals, for sure) but they can't find a way to get rid of that smell during the six-to-eight week period of "bloom" and visitors and newcomers notice it and sometimes decline to drink the local water because it smells "funny" or "wrong."

Living where I do (old lake level shoreline and an ancient, long dried-up creek bed), I have a very sandy plot of land. Provides great drainage and warm soil earlier in the year than there'd be if this were Ohio clay. By the same token, it can take a lot of water to keep a garden going when the temperatures get above, say, 73F and I'm figuring that 55 gallons in reserve at a time (and some good double- or triple-digging of beds plus a lot of organic matter at the bottom of each bed) will lessen the burden on our water system by that much. Not a whacking great lot, but some.

We can't afford to take our Great Lakes for granted.
ravenfeather
Apr. 11th, 2014 03:22 am (UTC)
*smiles and nods*Any step in the "right" direction, no matter how small is valid.
_xaipe_
Apr. 9th, 2014 05:03 pm (UTC)
We have. In fact, we set up a stacked system so that water flows from the gutter system, to a top barrel, to the bottom barrel (until both are full, etc.). Both are in/on a homemade stand (to give us some water pressure), and we use them for filling water jugs (for watering by hand) and a slow-drip system that snakes through our big main, biggest garden bed.

We have one of those little switch valves on the top spigot, so that we can turn it on and off (for hooking up the drip system, filling jugs, etc.). It's not perfect and it never has a enough water (we grow a lot of tomatoes), but it could be a lot worse.

I agree with your other poster: make sure that you put the spigot holes nice and low, so that you don't have a bunch of water you can't reach.

We used blue barrels that we got off Craigslist for a few bucks each.
virginiadear
Apr. 9th, 2014 05:35 pm (UTC)
"We used blue barrels that we got off Craigslist for a few bucks each. "

H'mm...I seem to recall a friend of mine asking me if I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to acquire some blue barrels for a few bucks each being disposed of by Paramount Distillery and offered on Craigslist, not too long ago (as I experience the passage of time, that is.) These you acquired wouldn't have been some of those...?

Duly noted: spigots must be at the lowest point possible, in order to facilitate drainage.

My community/suburb can be very sticky about constructing things. An upright rain barrel, even if it feeds another barrel or two through overflow pipes, is "just gardening." Even setting those barrels up on cinder blocks is "just gardening" and it also complies with city codes regarding "receptacles," which according to an old ordinance still on the books from back in the days when trash or garbage cans were metal and prone to rusting if they sat in contact with our usually damp soil and once rusted, would attract rodents and other pests, says the city.
So, even modern plastic trash containers and water barrels must, according to code, be elevated, even without the potential for rusting out.

Thank you! :^)
_xaipe_
Apr. 9th, 2014 05:41 pm (UTC)
You're welcome. Also, I doubt we're talking about the same rain barrels — mine have been in place for about two years now. :)
virginiadear
Apr. 9th, 2014 05:45 pm (UTC)
Oops---sorry: "not too long ago" as I experience the passage of time---I tend to lose track of it---could be two years or even longer. I don't recall how long ago Paramount closed the distillery of which I'm thinking.
It's not important, though. It was just "blue barrels + 'a few bucks' + Craigslist" rang a tiny little bell in my memory.

And now of course I'm wishing I'd said, "Yes, let's nab some of those!" while the nabbing was good!


Edited at 2014-04-09 07:34 pm (UTC)
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )

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