Thursday, April 8, 2010


It’s been a while since I’ve done any garden blogging, for obvious reasons. However, two weeks ago I got my first sunburn of the season, cleaning detritus out of the koi pond.

Everything is busting out -- my wisteria just popped open yesterday, my lilacs have unfurled their heavy, heady blossoms, and this shrub, whose name I always forget, is in full bloom. It’s so fragrant that it perfumes our entire porch. I keep meaning to plant more because I love any plant with fragrance, but damn if I can remember what the thing is.

Day before yesterday, in advance of last night’s rain, I set up our rain barrels. I love, love, love rain barrels. I wish I could have hundreds of them; it’s free water, every time it rains. I just love how when I use them I’m not paying Metro Water (Yes, I am that cheap). Another neat thing is that I can water the garden while Mr. Beale is in the shower and he won’t get mad at me for messing with his water pressure.

We have four of them. Ours are old pickle shipping containers, they are big and round and green and hold about 65 gallons. Let me say if I had to do it all over again I’d get one of these with the flat back, though I also think $150 is a ridiculous amount of money to pay for a rain barrel. You can get one from Metro Water right here in Nashville for 50 bucks, and they even tell you how to make your own.

Here’s a great idea: a flexible rain barrel from TuffTech Bags. I think this is an especially great idea if you can position it on some kind of cart. That way you can transport it around your garden when you need to water. One of the problems with rain barrels is that they are gravity-fed, so you’re pretty much stuck watering only those garden beds downhill from your barrel.

If I were smart and a real do-it-yourselfer, which I"m not, I'd devise a rigging system that both held the rain barrel aloft and allowed me to tilt it, so I can empty it completely. Where's an MIT student when you need one?

Hell, if I really had my way I’d design a complex cistern system like the one I read about a few years ago. This guy in Michigan designed an underground cistern and filter system to use rainwater to flush all of his home toilets. There was a backup system to use city water in case of dry months, but dang what a good idea that is. I hate to think of all the fresh, clean water we’re wasting just flushing the commode.

Last night's rain did not fill up my rain barrels; we had more wind than rain, so the barrels filled up only about halfway. Still, that's about 100 gallons of water I can use.

Here are some more signs of spring: