Welcome Rain Into Your Life And Landscape; Rainwater Harvesting And Growing In Dry Or Arid Climates

Brad Lancaster lives in Tucson, AZ which only gets about 16″ a year in rainwater – yet Brad has an abundance of water, food, and community.

How is that possible? And how does he do it?

Brad is a true guru of water conservation and the author of a 3 volume set of books on rainwater, sun, and shade harvesting. You can purchase Brad’s books on Amazon here; http://astore.amazon.com/wwwbackyardfo-20

I’ll be talking with Brad on July 23rd in a recorded session and I want to get your questions answered. What do you want to ask Brad?

Please put your questions in the comments section below!

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This post was written by Marjory


  • Sandy says:

    I live in an arid region of Arizona, also. I have always taken comfort in knowing that I live near Lake Powell but if anything should happen to that water source I would be in trouble. The average precipitation in Page is less than 7″. I currently use a sprinkling system to water my garden and it does beautifully. How could I possibly replace this type of system? Besides using compost and mulch (which I already use), how could I garden with a lot less water?

    1. Hi Sandy,

      The question of how to irrigate over a large area is a good one.

  • midnight says:

    I would like to know about what to get and how to install a diverter that gets rid of the first flush of water into the rain barrel so that the water will be cleaner.

    1. Ah, a roof washer! Good question Midnight.

  • cindy says:

    My rainbarrel stinks (literally smells bad). Is that a problem for the plants?

  • FiFi says:

    Do you know when big reservoirs of water are projected to go dry – such as Lake Powell, or the Ogwalalla?

    1. Mellie says:

      If I have same content but different country target appearing correctly in Bing, using canonical link elements will break this.What happened to Google and Bing working together on CLE's? It seems you are now using them in completely coodcatirtnry ways.

  • Wilson J. says:

    Can you collect water off a tar roof? Would it be safe for irrigating if not drinking?

  • Jason says:

    Have you done much with Ollas? The clay irrigation pots? Do you recommend them? Should I use one per plant of surround a plant with several?

  • John B. says:

    Do you filter the rainwater you collect before you drink it? Do you have any recommendations for filters we could use or make in a grid down situation?

  • Mary Wallinski says:

    Do you have any suggestions for keeping water in a sandy soil. How effective are swales in sand?

  • Patricia says:

    How do you get the water from your catchment to the garden? Do you have a faucet in the catchment container?

  • ol' Lawrence says:

    Some years we get 2 inches of rain. I’ve seen it go 4 years straight without more than 2 inches of rain here. So catchment is out. The Barilla aquifer is 400 feet down on my property. A 6 inch
    residential well cost me $17,000 to drill. You GOTTA have water to raise a garden, so you can’t depend on the electric grid…you have to be able to produce your own electricity so you can pump
    water from that depth here….and you have to have SPARES because its 140 miles one way to
    a store to get parts.

    I can’t afford to drill and operate a 16 inch water well for irrigation and a center pivot sprinkler system to water crops. So I make do with a residential well.

    I recommend intense square foot gardening in buried and bermed about steel quonset buildings
    where the water can be judiciously applied and managed as well as protecting your crops from
    hail, tornadoes, 60-70 mph winds, wild fires, high temps above 110, and high UV. It works for me and I even protect my dwarf apples, pears, peaches, and nut trees in underground shelters, as well as my small animal protein stock. Look into the FarmTek catalog’s Fodder 2 system.

    Solar panels and solar steam generators provide all the power we need…and we store it in rechargeable batteries I make myself. I run DC power from the batteries to run fans and even on demand pressure pumps for the water system.

    This is what you HAVE to do for long term survival out here.

    1. Wow Lawrence. Without divulging too many details…. where is ‘out here’?

      1. ol' Lawrence says:

        Far west Texas

  • Bill says:

    Hi Marjory, Bill here. Ya know something,, 7/8 of the planet is H2O~ Why not let some of that water resource into the land? everyone who has ever been near the ocean, that 100 ft back from the salty ocean U can dig down & find fresh water. Why Not do it on steroids?! If they can drill the “Chunnel” under the English Channel.. why not drill from Inland to near the oceans edge & let nature take it’s course??? Dig deep enough to start, angle gradually upward til ya meet near enough the sea! It sounds good to me. And, with ‘Angle drilling’ it is feasible. Just a thought from an Industrial Designer. LOL Bill, Hey~ too buy to talk “Victory Gardens”?

    1. Hi bill, Yes we do have to catch up for that conversation. busy is an understatement…

  • I’d like to know what to do about rain barrels freezing in the winter. I grow food in Aerogardens indoors during the winter and I can’t use my well water because I need water without minerals for the gardens. I’ve seen my rain barrel have ice a foot high lifting the lid off, but it was a very expensive one that evidently can stand the pressure of the ice.

    I want to get more rain barrels but if I use ones that held food, such as syrup for sodas, I’m not sure they could survive a freeze. They might burst instead. If the grid is down, I’ll need water for everything and therefore need rain barrels year round. Any suggestions?

    1. ol' Lawrence says:

      Sure. Get black poly barrels. Set them on the south side and put a clear plastic tarp over them to form a dead air space around them. The sunlight absorbed by the black poly will keep the water from freezing…..and the black poly barrels with lids won’t support algae growth either.

      1. Thank you so much for the info. Both of my barrels are painted dark Hunter green so maybe that will work too. For future rain storage, I’ll get black ones or paint them black and follow your advice. Luckily I live in the South so we don’t have really cold winters too often (this past one being an exception.)

  • Thrivalista says:

    Re curb-cutting: what do you do to clean or filter roadway toxins out? In addition to bus and auto exhaust by-products (benzene, etc.), in our area they spray salt (mining by-products) on the road during the winter. Some of these are even more toxic than the exhaust by-products.

    1. Thrivalista, Ohhh, that is a good question!

  • Ann says:

    I would like to build a swale, but in Central Tx all we have is caliche soil which is hard, and big rocks, so its hard to dig a swale. to grow veggies, We bring in all our soil from the Natural Gardener in Austin. Are there alternative ways to do the swale/berm?

    1. Hi Ann, You know you don’t have to dig – you can simply pile rocks and organic matter up on the down slope to make a berm that catches the water and holds it for a bit.

      BTW, I love John Dromgooles place! Wish I lived closer I would go to all the events he puts on.

  • Jean says:

    I did not place any screening on top of my rain collecting buckets and barrows.
    They are now full of mosquito larvae.
    What would be a safe product to put into the water that would kill the larvae and not harm the plants?
    I have since placed a screen type netting over the collectors using cloths pins to secure.
    Mosquitoes do not have access to the water.
    Hatched mosquitoes are trapped under the netting until you open the top netting to get to the water. I don’t know what to do with this problem. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Jean,

      A few minnows will et those skeeters up! But then you’ve got little fish in your barrel.

      But I’ll ask Bard too.

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