Friday, May 8, 2015

It's always something...

The good news this week is we got some rain!  Admittedly, it wasn't much.  According to Weather Underground, my area received 0.12 inches (3.05 mm) of rain early this morning.  But rain of any kind in May is reason to rejoice.  The sky remain gray much of the day but we got nothing more than a few sprinkles after daylight.

This morning's view of the cloud-covered Los Angeles harbor


Although we received relatively little rain, it was enough to fill my small, 50-gallon rain barrel.  Or it would have been, if the valve hadn't been turned partially in the "on" position, causing us to lose a good portion of what nature delivered.

The relocated rain barrel surrounded by soaked pavement

We recently emptied, cleaned and moved the barrel from it's former location attached to the gararge to its new location attached to the house.  Apparently the valve was left partially open.  The soaked pavement was the clue.  That problem was easily fixed.

We were pleased to see that our new, 160-gallon tank had collected approximately 25 gallons of water from what was very modest rainfall.

The tank has notches on the side to indicate how much water it holds 

But we noticed that the pavement was also soaked underneath that tank's valve.  After emptying a portion of the contents into our other barrel, we determined that the new tank, thankfully, wasn't cracked but the valve required tightening to prevent the precious rainwater from slowly dripping away.  Locating and correcting the problem took more than half an hour but at least we discovered it before we had a really significant rainstorm.

Our morning was capped with the delivery of the other rain tank we had on order.  We'd hoped to pick it up from the same warehouse our other tank came from but, as the result of confusion between me and the distributor, we found that the pick-up location for this tank was almost 100 miles away.  So we had to arrange freight delivery at (ouch!) extra cost.  Now, though, all "we"  (by which I mean my husband) have to do is install the thing behind our garage, which will give us a total of 475 gallons of rain storage capacity.

The delivery truck

Frankly, despite the cost, I'm just as glad we didn't have to haul this thing on the LA freeways in a pick-up truck


My husband's not sure the extra water storage is worth the cost but it gives me peace of mind that I'm doing what I can to take care of my garden during our drought.  Other measures include shortened showers, recovery of kitchen and shower water for reuse, use of washing machine graywater, and lots and lots of mulch to retain soil moisture.

This week's mulch delivery

Mulching will be in process throughout the weekend.  (A second delivery may be required.)  I hope you have a fun weekend in store!


All material © 2012-2015 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

31 comments:

  1. Oh, what a bummer that you lost some of that precious rain water. But it's good that you discovered it now, and hopefully, have it all fixed now. It's conscientious of you to do what you can during the drought. I have gardening plans for the weekend!

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    1. I'm driven by more than moral conscience, Alison - saving water wherever I can may be a lifeline for my garden. My community has a 36% reduction target, which is daunting to say the least.

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  2. Kris, could you email me? I thought I had your email address, but apparently not. We're coming down to L.A. next week, and I was hoping we might be able to get together. alison.conliffe@gmail.com

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    1. I hope we can connect while you're here, Alison.

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  3. That's an impressive amount of water from .12 inch! I'll have to keep those in mind, all the better since the water would be a good deal softer than what is coming from our well. I notice the plants are always much happier from rainwater than from hose water, and I do think some of it may be the alkalinity, etc, of the ground water.
    Happy mulching :)

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    1. It's remarkable how much rain can be collected off one's roof, Amy. I was surprised to discover how little rain it took to fill my old 50-gallon water tank so gaining capacity to store additional water during our relatively brief rainy season seemed like a good idea to me.

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  4. Every drop is precious. And happy mulching!

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    1. Mulching is hard on knees and back but it does improve the look and health of the garden so onward I go!

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  5. Well you are well set up now, to catch every inch of rain. And all that lovely mulch too. Apart from helping to preserve moisture, mulch makes the beds look so nice and cared for. Which in your case they are; nobody could care better.

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    1. Thanks Chloris. I've used bagged mulch before but this is the first time I had it delivered by the truck-full!

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  6. The water tanks have already started to pay for themselves, collecting so much from so little rain. The mulch will be fantastic. I swear by any mulch - in addition to conserving water, helping keep weeds at bay and looking good, as it breaks down it enriches the soil and gives the soil more moisture-holding capacity. It's a great thing!

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    1. The mulch has already neatened up my garden. (The weeding and general clean-up that accompanied the mulching process helped too.) It's not all spread yet but I expect I'm going to need a 2nd truckload, however my bad knee may demand a short break before I get to that.

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  7. I'm sure you won't regret having that extra capacity Kris and your garden will thank you for it.

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    1. I expect I'll use every drop in those tanks (if for no other reason than to prevent a smirk from forming on my husband's face).

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  8. You've been hard at work. The mulch is beautiful!

    I'm starting to think about tanks as well--when last I investigated, the cost was ridiculous--did you find decent prices somewhere? Anywhere? Now that I have several hundred square feet of empty space out back due to pulling out plants...filling them with rain storage sounds clever. We got .3" here--wheee!

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    1. I got my old 50-gallon tank years ago from Gardener's Supply but they don't carry the really large tanks. After a number of on-line searches, we ended up with plasticwatertanks dot com, which is a distributor for a number of different makers. The cost of delivery significantly boosts a tank's net cost. The cheapest tanks are round, uncolored ones like my 160-gallon one, which are used for a range of industrial purposes. That one was manufactured by Chem-Tainer in Compton and we avoided a delivery charge by picking it up ourselves. The new 265-gallon tank is manufactured by Bushman in Temecula. It's a "slimline" model (which we needed to fit behind our garage), which costs more to manufacture. We paid for delivery on that one too, which increased the net cost 35% but the product was available for pick-up if you're willing/able to slog to Temecula.

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  9. I imagine someone in Ca is doing a brisk business in water storage tanks. I think you are very wise to collect what little you can and I know how you must have felt to find some of that precious water had drained away. I hope it found its way to some little plant. And yes there is no saving in collecting water as the tanks are very expensive but I know my garden is the better for having rain water rather than our alkaline chemical city water. That mulch looks wonderful.

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    1. Yes, I expect the plastic water tank manufacturers are quite excited about the California market right now. We ordered the tanks through a national distributor. Some of the tanks we considered came from Austin, TX but the delivery charge for those was enough to choke on. We were able to avoid a delivery charge on the smaller of our 2 new tanks by picking it up ourselves but we weren't that lucky with the 2nd one, which was produced by a different SoCal manufacturer.

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  10. I bet that a such a good feeling, to know your harnessing all that rain (when it does fall) for use in your garden. Congrats!

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    1. Amazingly, there's another chance of rain the end of this week. A minor miracle if it happens. Maybe Mother Nature doesn't hate SoCal after all.

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  11. With such a wonderful garden, you must do all you can to protect it, so I understand your need for the rain barrels, as well as your other water conservation measures. Congratulations on the rain you had, and I hope there is more to come!

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    1. From your lips to Mother Nature's ear, Deb! There's another chance of rain this Friday. That's unusual for May here - our normal rainy season is November-March.

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  12. It amazed me that your drought over there actually made our local newspaper here in Edinburgh Kris. It's not often they report such things. My thoughts turned to both you and Christina.
    Thankfully those valves are now sorted. I'm with you on the tanks - it's good that you are able to have so many in order to make collection worthwhile. For your garden's sake, I hope you get a bit more rain.

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    1. It always amazes me when California gets notice on the world stage, Angie, but then our state's economy is reportedly the 8th largest in the world, putting it ahead of Russia and Italy.

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  13. It is amazing how what seems like a negligible rainfall can accumulate in those barrels, but as you say, it is good you were able to get the valve issues sorted out before losing too many gallons. Even when we get reasonable rain, our potted plants are so much happier with that rain water than the city's chemically treated supply.

    Between rain harvesting and mulching, you are way ahead of the game. I'm betting the prices of barrels and mulch won't be going down anytime soon and even if your water savings won't pay for the barrels anytime soon, the chance to save your plants rather than lose them to the heat might!

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    1. Yes, it's my plants and my peace of mind I'm concerned about. The largest tank - a 265-gallon behemoth - is now in place and ready to capture all the rain that comes off the garage roof in time for the rain that we might get the end of this week.

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  14. Kris, how are you collecting washing machine grey water? It's probably a common practice in CA, but here no one does it. Is your washing machine raised?

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    1. No, the washing machine isn't raised. Unfortunately, I can't tell you how it's set up. We inherited the graywater system with the house. A pipe carries the water out and deposits it on our back slope. We didn't even know it was there until we dug out our gigantic Yucca earlier this year and discovered the pipe.

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  15. I was going to ask about the brand of your new tank but I saw that you already gave the info in reply to Gail's comment. Thanks!

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  16. I just got my first-ever rain barrel installed yesterday. It's a 50-gallon barrel, and I'm amazed that you could fill up one of that size with so little rain. I'm waiting for my first significant rainfall to see if the valve on the front of the barrel leaks. Congratulations on your rain -- every little bit helps. -Jean

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  17. That's incredible! Good on ya, mate! as my husband would say in his worst Australian accent. Well...that's what it takes and we may be doing that at some point, who knows? If we do we'll enlist your advice, to be sure. Every drop helps, you are an inspiration.

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