Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Water and Poop

I am in love with my rain barrels! We installed the second one over the weekend, in the front yard, and one rain shower filled all 55 gallons of it last night, so now I won't have to use the town water for the plants in the front for the foreseeable future, either. Since planting the veggies in the back a few weeks ago, I have watered them several times, and have never approached the bottom of the barrel in the back yard. Yippee!!!

As I sat on the front porch last night during the shower reading and listening to the gushing of the water from the downspout into the barrel, I started to feel greedy about ALL the rain. Like, if the gutters on my house alone can fill 110gal worth of rain barrel in one steady, half-hour rain, that means that every house in my entire neighborhood had the same amount going down THEIR gutters. *eyes wildly darting from house to house* It could be Mine, I tell you, ALL MINE!!! Well, or at least theirs, I suppose. Almost everyone has some plants in their yard, if not a full-blown garden somewhere on the property. None of us would have to use a drop of city water for at least two weeks from that one shower if everyone had a barrel or two.

The one in the front yard is hidden almost completely by the honeysuckle, although you can see where I've added the flexible downspout to divert the water:

This is what they actually look like:

I could about kiss it. The lid screws off, and underneath it is a mosquito screen that covers the five large holes that allow the water to come in. The spigot at the bottom connects to my regular garden hose. The water pressure isn't great, but it comes out. I should learn to be more patient, anyway.

My next project will be a decent composting system. I'm torn between vermiculture, which is when you get a box, put a LOT of a certain kind of worm in it, and then feed them your veggie and yard waste, which they then poop out (delicately called 'compost tea', yumyum) and you add to your yard, and regular throw-your-trash-in-a-pile composting. I already use Worm Poop fertilizer on my plants, purchased from Lowes in convenient recyclable soda-bottle-type containers, and it does work well. However, all those worms, and dealing with draining their, um, TEA, makes me feel a little squeamish. I WANT to be Enviro-Girl, able to sift a ton of worm sh*t in a single swipe, but seriously, it STINKS. Plus, all that pink squirming, ugh.

Compost heaps, however, have to be shaken and stirred and practically made out with, from what I understand, and have to have the proper ingredients added at the proper times to make it work well. I do have one good friend, B, who throws all her stuff on there and it does just great, but that's HER. She works at a recycling company. Everything the girl TOUCHES probably turns to compost (except her cooking, which is excellent, yum). If I tried that approach, I know I would make Slime Pie. I need a Bin, to contain The Stuff, keep out pests, and preferably to have a handle that I can crank at will to turn the stuff. I'm especially concerned about pests, because when I was in college, our dorm tried collecting food refuse to compost, and the entire dorm became INFESTED with cockroaches (I am, in fact, barfing a little in my own throat just THINKING about it).

What do you all think? Have you composted? Are you crunchy little people out there happily concocting Wormy Poop Soup? Are you collecting your water? Or are you out there making giant piles of oozy goo and draining your local lakes dry to water your own personal rice paddies? Do tell!


Swistle said...

I LOVE THIS. I just emailed Paul to tell him we need a rain barrel. We never water our dry, brown front yard because it's such a waste of water---but if we could get water "free"....well, that would be AWESOME!

We do compost, but we just started a little while ago so we're not sure yet if it's working.

Creative Kerfuffle said...

omg--i too told the hubs we need a rain barrel or two! yeah. so, where to do get them or how do you make them? please share : )

Astarte said...

I got my rain barrel from the Scott Key Center in Frederick, MD, because they were at a home show I went to. They were $65 apiece, and were fully assembled and ready to go; all I had to do was go to Lowes and get a $3 flexible downspout and a cheapie hacksaw to cut off the existing spout. I liked getting it there because it was made through their community program that employs mentally disabled people and uses recycled olive barrels. Here's a link to some mid-Atlantic barrel sources, which in turn contains a link to directions on how to make your own. I think they can be made at home pretty cheaply, but since I'd never had one before, I wanted to get a pre-fab one to examine before I tried it out. I think the main concern with making your own is solving the leaking issue if you choose to put in a spigot.


Kelsey said...

I have no advice on the compost but I had to leave a comment and say how gorgeous your house is!