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Rainwater Harvesting

Rainwater has no salts, or chlorine/chloramine and it has a non-alkaline pH.  It is ideal for seedlings just as formula is for small children.  If you do not capture it then it goes to the local waste treatment plant where it has to be treated at tax payer expense.

It is also ideal for all potted plants as tap water has salt which builds up rapidly in your potted plants.  When designed and used efficiently your water bill will be much lower and your plants much healthier.  It also builds infrastructure for drought and climate change-driven water constrains.

There is just two basic ways to harvest rainwater.  The least efficient way is to capture it in barrels.  This water is, however, ideal for seedlings and potted plants.  And the other method is to allow every drop of rainwater to remain on your property in the ground and then used by whatever plants you are growing.

before The main thing you must know about capturing water is that it always flows down hill.  Also at the bottom of that hill is normally the city street gutter system for taking that water to the ocean.

There are a number of ways to capture all the rainwater including swales and berms, mulch pits, terracing, and soil conditioning.  The idea is to channel the water where you want it to go, and slow it down so you can soak it up like a sponge.

Now that we are using rainwater more efficiently we need to consider the soil.  What you need to understand is that soil needs care, it needs food, shelter, water, air, and protection.  Sounds like the same thing you would do for a pet.

  • Food: Fold compost into your soil and create your own compost so you can control it's quality.
  • Shelter: Cover all growing areas with 6 to 8 inches of mulch to prevent weeds and evaporation. The compost and mulch will also serve as a giant sponge when it rains and slow the water down while it is absorbed by the earth below.
  • Water: Prevent runoff and erosion.  Infiltrate rainwater. Irrigate long, slow and deep.
  • Air:  Make paths so that you do not walk on and compact growing beds.
  • Protection: Never use chemicals or poisons.  Use only natural organic methods.

In addition you should use crop rotation, and grow green manures and corbon crops for your compost pile.  Compost everything you possibly can, and build homegrown soil.

Be Wise about your watering techniques

  • Use the one-finger test.
  • Water the soil, not the plants.
  • Water long slow and deep.
  • Water in the evening.

    Plant crops and trees that use less water and are drought tolerant.  If you must have grass then confine it to a small area.

    Greywater Systems

    In addition to Rainwater Harvesting we Americans have one other great source for water conservation and a way to lower our monthly water bills.   17% of our water use is for showers and baths, another 9% us for washing our hands and brushing our teeth and 4% is used to wash our cloths.  That adds up to 20% of our water use and this water called greywater can be used to water trees and bushes.  In addition you can wash all your vegetables in a bucket and use that water as well.

    To learn more about greywater please click on this link.

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    Last Updated February 26, 2013
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