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Harvesting the Rain: 55 Gallons

While we don't usually even consider small rain barrels like this, after getting our side yard garden created, I realized I needed something basic to handle this smaller area, and didn't want to lug water from the backyard tank nor use the hose. Our enclosed front yard garden has been designed for drought-tolerant plants and therefore will not need much watering at all, so I never put a tank in the plans, but now that I've got grapes ready to climb up a trellis this year, a new espalier Asian pear I just picked up at the nursery to go against the side wall, as well as some traditional plants that will need to be watered occasionally until they are established, it was clear we needed some kind of basic solution for a wee bit of water on that side of the house....without spending a ton.

Ironically, with rain barrels becoming so much more popular, it's hard to find a free food-grade barrel out there to DIY into a rain tank like I did 15 years ago with my first one...most at the big box stores start out at $100 or more, and Craigslist ads have them at $50 but are of course minus all the doohickeys needed to convert it (faucet, overflow, etc) which add up at the hardware store. Plus I hate buying something that small made of virgin plastic (ugh...fossil fuels...).

So I did a quick search online for rain barrels in my county, and sure enough, found that our local public utility water district actually sells used ones, fully outfitted and ready-to-connect, for $60. Bam. Done.

They are fine to use as-is, but I dig painting mine (as you can see from the posts of the rain barrels and cisterns I've painted over the years), and this was no exception...and with our leftover paint in the garage, it was easy to come up with a design again.

This time, a little tribute to one of the greats, Miss Billie Holiday...


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