How to Harvest Rain Without Really Trying

Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap  —  April 24, 2012 — Leave a comment

One of my biggest barriers to keeping plants alive has always been watering. It’s just so much work. I have to go inside, get the water, and come back out again. Or, alternatively, go get the hose, turn it on, water everything, then turn it off and put it back. Too many steps for this girl. I thought, there has to be a better way.

I started dreaming of getting a rain barrel a little over a year ago, but I just couldn’t justify the expense and hassle of even a DIY’d version. Besides, would it really be any easier to deal with? I’d probably have to take just as many steps to get to a rain barrel as I would the hose, or maybe even the kitchen sink. I googled endlessly in search of a more reasonable solution.

Then one day it hit me. Nick and I were out in the backyard cleaning some stuff up and I came across a bucket that had filled with rainwater. There was more than enough water in it to quench my little garden’s thirst. I didn’t need a full-scale rain barrel, just a little bucket! So I grabbed a galvanized tub that I already had (purchased for cheap in the paint section at Lowe’s) and poured the contents of the bucket into it. Then I grabbed a small glass jar from my collection inside the house and stuck it in there. Now whenever I want to water my garden all I do is scoop some water out with the jar and give each of my plants a drink. See the tub sitting right there next to the garden? Obviously Nick has not mastered the art of mowing around it, but I don’t mind. It looks kind of like a little water garden.

The water’s getting a little dirty, so I plan to head down to the LSU lakes and scoop up some little fishes, especially before mosquito season gets in full swing. I figure some little minnows or whatever will eat the algae and mosquito larvae and we’ll have a nice little ecosystem going here.

Interestingly, only two days after I set the barrel up (in February) a newt showed up to live in it. I was thrilled. Nick and I visited it every day and thanked it for making our rain bucket home. Then we had a late freeze and it got trapped under the ice and died, and nothing has come to live there since. =(

I have a similar problem out front, especially since all my porch containers are completely sheltered from the rain. I agonized over finding some sort of low-maintenance watering solution until I found this little watering can at the thrift store.

Unlike most watering cans, it has an opening at the top wide enough to catch a generous amount of rain. And since it’s emptied all the way pretty regularly the water stays clean. If we go through a dry spell I just fill it up from the tub in the backyard and that provides enough water to last several days for my little container plants.

It tucks up really nicely in front of the steps, where it gets plenty of rain, is handy to reach for, and isn’t in the way at all.

See those potted plants flanking the steps? I planted mums last fall and they promptly died. I never got around to pulling them out of the pot, then this spring I noticed green leaves springing forth. I cut back the dead stems and now they’re looking great, with little purple blooms and green leaves everywhere. The proximity of the watering can may just keep them alive another year.

This is one of those little things that has just made my life so much simpler. Maybe my house won’t be the place where plants go to die anymore! Maybe I’ll even surpass my next door neighbor in number of living potted plants on the porch. What I lack in actual skill and ability I make up for in enthusiasm.

Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap

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