My family has been into gardening the past several years, as it is great to have fresh herbs and vegetables that last well into fall, once they get growing of course, which always seems to depend on the weather, as it goes warm so late for us in Michigan last year and stayed until November. It actually stayed warm long enough that as quickly as we still have growth, it quickly froze and we were straight into winter. What we have been missing was a way to have water on-demand from simply the rain water, and in return saving on the water bill and helping the environment at the same time.
The way it came about what actually on a whim. There was a build your own rain barrel event on the Detroit River on Saturday afternoon, and always looking for an excuse to spend the day downtown, we attended more or less for something to do. My wife had talked about wanting a rain barrel for a while but never really pursued it much after that. This was perfect, as it was affordable, under a hundred dollars, to learn, put together, and take home your own rain barrel, which we had always seen for much higher prices at farmer’s markets or in our local city’s events.
While it actually only took a few pieces to construct, I think it more of a way to get a group together, learn the benefits, while getting a little hands-on action at the same time. As we loaded up the rain barrel and headed home, we felt good about ourselves as we were helping the environment and saving money as well. We hooked up the barrel to the gutter in our backyard that actually is right next to our garden, so that as the water filled up, it wouldn’t have to travel far to use. With the amount of rain that we get in Michigan, it actually didn’t take long until it was full. It is crazy to think that all of this would have just been runoff into the ground or sewer system, ridding the garden of the many benefits of rain water.
Rain water is actually better for the plants than tap water, and is said to be free of the many ions and fluoride compounds that are found in our city water, so using the rain water could actually make the plants stronger. In the dead of summer when it is so hot that you are forced to stay inside in the air conditioning, there actually could be water restrictions imposed so you keep the hose away during these times, so it is nice to be able to have water available whenever you need it to keep your garden growing to survive the heat and potential water drought. By having a large portion of the rain water going into the barrel instead of the soil, you will reduce the amount of moisture in the ground, which could avoid a flood, and avoid any potential water damage and mold that could be ruined to your foundation or finished basement. If you are looking to talk figures for how much you could save, just think about how much you water flowers, plants, garden around your house. With the amount you run the house, especially in the summer, you could see a 30-40% reduction off of your bill, which could be huge savings especially in those summer months.
I never would have thought my house would have herbs and vegetables growing in the garden, let alone a rain barrel in there, it sounds so hipster, but in actuality, it’s smart and actually does not take too much work. With the garden, you will always have fresh herbs and vegetables to last you all the way to fall, and with the help of a rain barrel that is fairly inexpensive depending what kind you get, it can sit there just collecting water during rain, and instead of going into the ground, is saved for use to use on your garden and flowers at any time, while saving a little money in return. Seems like a no-brainer, and if I can do it, you surely can as well.