Rain Water Barrels

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Sandra Sandra
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Rain Water Barrels

Anyone have experience with rain water barrels/catchments? I'm thinking of getting one to supplement watering the garden this year, but the ones I've seen for sale are incredibly expensive (over $100!). I'm wondering if it's worth the initial investment, or maybe someone knows how to make one?

Thanks for your help!
Reed Reed
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Re: Rain Water Barrels

Hi Sandra,
I had the same questions last summer.  I did a lot of research and ended up making my own—sooo much less expensive!  
This video really helped me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3NNaTdyW84&feature=related

They use the best system for water delivery—a “bung” with a spigot.  Most of the versions out there use only a spigot with silicone, which isn’t sturdy and leaks very quickly.  I did make my input port a little differently than they did in the video though.  I used the PVC adapter and the screen like they did, but I used an additional adaptor with the screen fitted inside so that I could put my downspout right in it—still filtered, but cupped, so no water loss from water basically falling from the downspout onto the top of the barrel (as in the video).
  Tips:
     1.  Use only a FOOD GDADE barrel no matter what anyone says is okay for the garden.  
     2.  An opaque barrel is best too, because it cuts down on the rainwater’s exposure to light.   Light means a marginal amount of algae, opaque = better quality water.   This was important for me because I use the water for houseplants, vivarium, and orchids as well as in the garden.
     3.  Also, make sure your overflow port is as large as your input port.  Otherwise, you can get water back-up/flooding pretty quickly in a good rain.
I live in a small-ish mid-west town, so Lowes and Home Depot were mainly my only options for the hardware.  I found a guy selling used food grade barrels for 15$.  Had to network a bit in order to borrow the drill bit, but it was definitely worth it.  Total cost actually did end up to be about 30$ like they said it would be in the video!
Hope this helps, good luck!
Sandra Sandra
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Re: Rain Water Barrels

Thank you for your help, Reed! Great tips and video link. I never did get around to installing a rain water catchment last summer. This has definitely renewed my interest.

Would you mind sharing your experiences with using the water barrel? How has the whole system held up in winter weather conditions? Any problems with mosquitoes or other insects attracted to standing water? Thanks again!
Reed Reed
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I made it a bit late in the season last summer and had about 6 weeks’ worth of use out of it before I had to empty it (for temps below freezing).  The water harvest was pretty good; lots of lugging gallons down to my basement though!  Still have plenty for watering my houseplants.
This is my first winter with it, so I’m afraid I won’t know how it held up for a few (okay, several!) more months yet.
I didn’t notice any mosquitoes, larvae or other insect problems in those 6 weeks, but I haven’t gone through spring with it yet.  I did try to screen the input port as stringently as I could, so we’ll see how it goes.
I took a couple of snow-laden pic.’s of the barrel and input port, but I don’t think I can attach them here.
Good luck with your adventures!

reed reed
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Re: Rain Water Barrels

Thought I’d post an update.  
I’ve had the rain barrel back in operation for a little over a month now and it seems to be going well.  No problems from overwintering so far.  No obvious signs of mosquito or bug larvae either.  Both of which were in our tiny pond before the addition of a few hungry goldfish.  We have harvested about 25 gallons of water from the barrel (would have been more except for time and energy).  Since it rained a few days ago, it’s full again and we have another 55 gallons available.  I’m going to try to post those photos of the in-port since I did it differently than the video.  







Sandra Sandra
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Re: Rain Water Barrels

Thanks for sharing this, Reed! I really like your version of the in-port adaptor. It looks like it will collect water a lot better than the one shown in the video. Great design. Thanks again for sharing!
Terri Gajeski Terri Gajeski
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We have used a water barrel for watering our plants and garden for years and love it.  Very eco friendly with no problems of mosquitos.  Our barrel is empty right now because we are going through a slight drought where I live, but look forward to it filling up again when it rains.  We leave our barrel outside in winter, just drain it.  My husband made our barrel, very similar to Reed's just by looking at a neighbors.
jenbink jenbink
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Re: Rain Water Barrels

In reply to this post by Sandra
There is an upworthy video about a Brazilian woman helping people in the favela who do not have access to running water.  I don't like the PVC, etc.  there has to be a greener solution, but if your criterion is cheap - that is a starting point!