I am on a mission to live sustainably. My primary water source is a rain water collection system. Collecting rainwater is a great idea almost everywhere, but especially here is the drought-prone Southwest.
We collect the water into big tanks from the roof of a barn, which is on top of a hill. That is super convenient as we can then pipe the water almost everywhere using gravity. No pumps needed – just manual valves to turn the water on or off.
Look Ma – no electricity!
My husband built the system. He is a mechanical genius.
But there is one small problem, His wife (me) is totally scatterbrained and prone to forgetting that the water is on when the phone rings, or the dogs corner another snake, or the kids are suddenly famished, or a neighbor comes up with some chickens to trade… You get the idea.
Meanwhile the water is running and running and then the tanks are dry.
When this is you main water source it causes friction in the marriage.
My nine year old daughter came up with the most awesome solution. We dispersed her enormous bling collection onto every faucet on the farm.
Whenever anyone turns on the water, you also get to wear the bling until you turn off the water.
Not only do you look fabulous, but everyone else knows and reminds you that you have water on.
And that my friends, is the #1 reason to wear bling in Texas.
Marjory Wildcraft is an Expedition Leader and Bioneer Blogger with The [Grow] Network, which is an online community that recognizes the wisdom of “homegrown food on every table.” Marjory has been featured as an expert on sustainable living by National Geographic, she is a speaker at Mother Earth News fairs, and is a returning guest on Coast to Coast AM. She is an author of several books, but is best known for her “Grow Your Own Groceries” video series, which is used by more than 300,000 homesteaders, survivalists, universities, and missionary organizations around the world.
I have a problem with water that is loaded with chemicals which kills everything I plant – really! I gave up on a garden last year because of that and the fact the water bill was over $100.00 a month. I bought the little in line filters for travel trailers, similar to those you put on a refrigerator and that didn’t work very well. Do you have a suggestion for filtering the community water that is affordable? Not only are they putting chlorine in the water but also chloramine which kills organic bacteria, not only in the water or your garden, but also in the gut!!! I do have a Berkey for household use.
I would love to have the tanks like your setup but we are old, can’t financially afford the tanks or hire the labor it would take to get them out here and set up. At the moment, a much needed rain catchment system is out of the question.
I used to advise just holding the chlorinated water in a drum to let the chlorine volatilize out. But that chloramine is a whole new deal and I don’t know how long, of if, just letting it vaporize works with chloramine.
If anyone reading this has any input = please chime in!
Is there any way to do earthworks to direct rain runoff into a pond to use?
All of the homemade water filters I know of are for drinking purposes and not larger scale irrigation like you need for the garden.
So here is what I recommend you do. Open your heart and mind to the possibility that the resources you need will come to you – tanks, earth mover, youthful help, or whatever. I’ve found over and over again if I just try to keep myself open to what seems imposable, it comes. Most likely from out of the blue in a way you cannot imagine.
And, I’ll look into what else I can do in terms of filers that could work for you.
Would a system using tarpaulins help?
How would you use the tarpaulins? Uh, what is a tarpaulin?
My brain is flying on this one and it keeps coming back to home made charcoal and sand to filter the chloramine. Cheap, and effective but how to set up a water storage for your garden that has been filtered.?. Also, watering a garden on city water seems to defeat the purpose (cost wise) Surely your house had downspouts that you could collect rain water from. Could you hire a couple kids to dig you a small pond to hold the water and do you have the room for it?
Yes, good suggestions.
I’ve been asking around and another option is to put the city water into a 55 gallon drum and add some humic acid to bind up the chloromine. Oh gosh, am I spelling that correctly?
You can either purchase humic acid at a local nursery, or it is simply the brown balk liquid you get by running some water through compost.
Andy yes, rain water collection is probably the best way to go. Collect it in drums from down spouts. or there is a product you can put on the end of the down spout to connect it up to a soaker hose that you run through your garden. Good rich soil will hold an amazing amount of water.
Another option is to simplify the gardening so that you don’t need as much water. The Kratky method of hydroponic gardening looks really interesting. No pumps, aerators, electricity, or complicated equipment is needed, and once you have it set up you don’t even need to tend to it until harvest time.
In case the link didn’t make it in the HTML tag, here is the video I found that demonstrates the Kratky method: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3tz5LVVR_o
We are in the southwest too, but way up in the mountains. We are still in a drought prone forest, but water catchment is complicated by the fact that it gets down below zero – any kind of rain barrel we set up freezes solid, so I have to drain them before winter or risk bursting the container.. This sort of defeats the purpose of having them, as spring is dry here, and that when the water is needed. Any suggestions out there?
It sure seems there must be something you can do. Have the barrels on a south facing slope. Bury them in the ground? Surround them with a greenhouse type structure to trap heat?
Brad Lancaster has a couple of books on collecting and using rain water. I am planning on doing an interview with him very soon.