Grit Blogs > Making Do

Besting the Summer Drought

Cassie LewisWe are working on getting our garden up and running. And we are getting so close! We've got three raised beds built and some strawberry gutters installed on the fence. More on those next time. But I've been planning on getting a rain barrel installed on the shed near the garden to help with watering times. So last weekend my handy husband and I started by installing a gutter on the shed.

Our shed is an old and metal with exposed rafters, no gutters. We had some leftover 2 x 4's from the fence, so we started by attaching a few of those to the roof's trusses so we would have something stable to attach the gutter.

Preparing for guttering

We had two pieces of vinyl guttering, a connector, a downspout, and the end pieces. We started by deciding where I wanted the downspout. That is going to feed the lead rain barrel, which will then flow to the secondary barrels. Once that was decided, the guttering went together quickly. The vinyl cut easily with tin snips, and everything in the system snapped into each other. We angled the guttering toward the downspout, taking advantage of water's nature.

Our rain barrels are pretty straightforward. They've got a 3/4” spigot near the bottom, and opening in the top covered with a very fine mesh. Basic idea — water in, water out. We've also drilled holes in the sides near the top and will be connecting the lead barrel to all the secondary barrels using a simple PVC pipe connection. Each secondary barrel has the same 3/4” spigot near the base. The plan is to empty the last barrel first, working my way back to the lead barrel. There are so many DIY instructions for building a rain barrel on the internet, and there are even kits to help you convert a standard gutter and barrel into a rain barrel. Barrel wise, if you use a 'used' barrel, be sure it didn't contain chemicals. If you can't find one in your area, consider a large trash can!

Important note: if you install a rain barrel, for safety's sake be sure it is level and secure. Those barrels are heavy and could hurt someone if they are built on any sort of slope. Mine aren't quite finished — they need leveling out — but we are close!

gutterRainBarrel complete

I've read before of people treating the water for mosquitoes. We've had rain barrel before, and honestly the water didn't last long enough to breed mosquitoes, or perhaps the mesh helped. But I'll be on the lookout for them, and if I see them I will likely buy some “Mosquito Dunks” to kill the larvae. From what I understand, they are harmful to mosquitoes but won't harm beneficial insects. Have you ever used them?

Spring is coming, and I've got a system that will hopefully help keep the garden well-watered, even when we hit the inevitable drought weeks during the dog days of summer!