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Friday, July 06, 2007One of the things I've always liked about breastfeeding is the fact that it's a sustainable resource. There's no waste involved.
Greg and I are avid recyclers and both of us are always looking for ways to use up less resources, or to make more use of what we've already got. It's a slow process, but we're working on it.
The latest project in that regard is rain barrels. Greg ran across a post on Craig's List earlier this year from a company on the south side of the city that was selling 55 gallon plastic drums for a couple bucks each. They were food grade and the company wanted to get rid of them without throwing them away.
So Greg went down and picked two up. His plan was to turn one into a composter and to turn the other into a rain barrel.
It took him an afternoon and about $10 in parts, but he got the rain barrel up and running.
It's pretty nifty. He found some super fine mesh that he used to make a screen over the open top of the barrel to keep bugs and mosquitoes out. He build an overflow valve into the side of it so that instead of just washing over the side, the extra water is directed away from the base of the barrel. He also has a standard size faucet at the bottom so that he can screw a garden hose onto it. (The overflow valve and the faucet both have the same mesh on the inside to help filter and to keep the mosquitoes out of those holes as well.)
The entire thing sits up on two concrete blocks so that gravity does the work to get the water out. You can see in the picture over there on the left that you simply turn the spout and the water comes out.
Originally, Greg had planned to use the barrel to water our garden (which you can see in the background) but it turns out the two blocks aren't quite high enough to get some good gravity going. In other words, it was slow going with the water in the hose.
For now, we're simply filling up a watering can and doing it that way. In Greg's master plan, he'll find a way to raise the barrel to increase the water pressure and then he'll build a drip irrigation system for the garden.
Now here's the amazing thing about the rain barrel. It's set at the back corner of our one car garage. From that small patch of roof, it takes just a half an inch of rain to fill the ENTIRE 55 gallon barrel. Impressive, eh?
The scary part is that we can drain the barrel in 2-3 days just from watering our small garden. Gives a bit of perspective about how much water we use. We've got 3-4 more spots in the backyard where we could place rain barrels. As soon as we get a free weekend, I think he plans to build a few more. We may have to carry the water a bit further, but if we had four or five rain barrels, I think we could do most of our garden watering without using the hose.
If you guys are interested, I'll have him take step by step photos when he builds the next one and I can post a tutorial on here. It really wasn't difficult at all. They're also super lightweight when they are empty, so come winter, we'll drain them, rinse them out and flip them upside down.
Labels: Healthy Living