Rainwater Harvesting for Raised Beds

Rainwater Harvesting for Raised Beds

This is another important accessory that we might like to consider, as we previously discussed, we wrote how raised beds are particularly dry by nature and need irrigating every now and then. Along with setting up and assembling our bed frames, we now know that watering raised beds is part of the norm, especially just after planting, as this time is critical to the survival and establishment of our plants and vegetables. We can set up a rainwater harvesting unit for these purposes, which won’t cost the earth, but will serve to address all of the irrigation concerns for our raised bed  gardens.

We have all seen the barrel at the end of the garage or at the end of the out-house, which down through the years collected the rain water and this was subsequently used to provide for most of our water requirements. Our forefathers were clever when it came to issues like this used whatever means that were at their disposal to get by. This method may suit us today, depending on how many raised beds we have or what sizes they are. Some other factors to take into account are, the country and climate that we live in, also what we are planting and growing, as some crops require more water than others.

 

 

 

Harvesting rainwater;

 

The primary objective of harvesting rainwater today, may be for our garden needs, maybe its for washing the car, we may have some animals that require water or it may be for the purpose of power-hosing the house, yard or outhouses and for general uses like that. To have a reserve for these purposes is not a very difficult task to achieve, for starters, the good old 40 gallon steel drum or barrel will always help, but today there are more technical and efficient methods and devices for this purpose. Companies and businesses are nowadays coming up with great ideas and solutions to everyday problems and the great thing about these water harvesting containers is that they are not very expensive to buy. They can be purchased at all hardware or plumming stores and they can also be sourced online. The investment in one of these utensils or containers will pay us back handsomely over time and will be well worth every penny.

Earlier on, on this website we spoke about where to locate and situate our raised garden beds and one important factor in this discussion was, that we assemble our bed frames as near as possible to a water source for these specific reasons. In some second-hand stores and junk yards we can get these plastic drums, wheelie bins or small dumpsters which were used for commercial use once upon a time and now these containers will  be very suitable for the purpose of harvesting rainwater. In fact the plastic drums are more efficient and better suited, as they are easily plummed and they are probably more hygenic as well. The steel barrels are prone to rusting and will probably spring some leaks after being out in the elements over time.

 

 

 

 

Plumming and setting up rainwater tanks;

 

The ideal place to set-up these water harvesting tanks is at the end of a downpipe, which services a large building or outhouse. Once in place, nature does the rest and in no time at all these tanks will fill up and will easily take care of the watering requirements for our raised beds. Not only will the irrigation needs be sorted for us but also if we decide to fertilise our crops with a liquid feed, we will need copious amounts of water for this job as well. By carefully placing one of these tanks on a platform of concrete blocks or something solid like that, we can also install an overflow system which could feed into another container and act as reservoir for later on into the year, when we may have long dry periods without rain. This job of work is simple

Gravity watering our garden;

 

Like we mentioned above, if we could have these utensils above the level of our raised beds and in close proximity to same, it would be very easy to run a hose-pipe from the drum down to our raised bed. Gravity would allow the water to be fed down to our garden and we could also set up a water soaking system that would drip feed into the plants or crops. All of this is easily achieved, if we put a little thought and planning into where we wish to locate our raised beds, providing our circumstances allow for this to happen. If its possible to install an integrated project like this, we will save on labour, time and energy and we will also feel pretty chuffed with ourselves after having come up with a ingenious solution to an ongoing problem.

 

Economics of rainwater harvesting;

 

Depending on what country we live in and also depending on what rules governments have in relation to water utility charges, it is just good house-keeping to make a habit of harvesting the rainwater. I know for instance in some countries, that during very dry spells and heatwaves, hosepipe watering of gardens and washing of cars is banned for the duration of these periods. If we are paying for water as a household utility, we would have a very large bill from the water companies at the end of the month if we had to water our gardens everyday, now that is something most people would love to avoid if they can. So the task of setting up a project of this importance should be prioritised as soon as possible for economic and general reasons.

As we go forward, we are constsntly being reminded of climate change and its consequences for our planet. The experts keep telling us that the seasons are changing, the earth is suffeing from global warming and that rainfall in some areas has all but dissappeared, so on foot of those alarming seniments, we all need to do our part. Preservation of our drinking water is now top of some governments agendas, so we can make a small contribution to help out where its possible. On a note of caution, it is advisable to ensure that these containers are standing secure, resting on a level surface and away from electrical fittings etc etc. Once again I trust you have found this article informational and if so, please leave any comments in the box below.

Happy gardening to all

Cheers……Phil Browne.

 

“A visitor to a garden sees the successes, usually.

The gardener remembers mistakes and losses, some for a long time,

and imagines the garden in a year,

and in an unimaginable future.”
― W.S. Merwin.

 


 

10 thoughts on “Rainwater Harvesting for Raised Beds

  1. What a fantastic idea. I’ve certainly seen rainwater harvesting on home and garden shows but the thought of being able to do this for raised beds is great.

    For me, raised beds need even more irrigation especially in summer. How do you handle the rainwater from your barrel? Do you run a hose or just harvest and water with a watering can?

    Great stuff!

    1. Hi there Victoria

      Many thanks for feedback comments. I agree with you whole heartedly, raised beds make life very easy for us in the garden, and if we can harvest the rainwater for garden use, this will make life a little more enjoyable.

      Definitely, raised beds need a lot more watering than say the open garden system that we used previously, so harvesting the rainwater makes absolute sense. We can either attach a hose to the water barrel or do it the old fashioned way, ie, a watering can.

      I guess the trick here is to erect our raised beds as near as possible to a water source, if possible.

      Thanks again for stopping by

      Cheers…………Phil Browne

  2. Hey Phil,
    I totally like the idea of collecting rain water for small gardens. When I was a kid my grandmother always collected water in a plastic bucket for her flower bed. It did not last for long though. What kind of storage would you recommend for collecting rain water throughout the entire summer?

    1. Hi there, Kendrick

      Many thanks for stopping by, you are very much appreciated. The idea of collecting rainwater for use in the garden has been used for years and years, so much so that people used whatever device or container was available to them back then.

      I guess you would want a barrel or container that would collect at least 50-60 gallons or more, so that you would have a good reserve on hands in case it did’nt rain for some time and you may go through a long dry spell.

      I hope this addresses your queries,

      Yhanks again and happy gardening

      Cheers………….Phil Browne

  3. Hi Phil, it is me again. A good advice post for water usage.

    Well what can I say about rainwater. For one, if you live outside a metropolitan area where there is little pollution and no disinfectants added rainwater is the best.

    Being in the Australian ‘bush’ we don’t have reticulated water. So all our water; drinking, washing, garden watering and the like comes from our rainwater tank. And neither of us has ever been ill from using it.

    I like your idea of the barrel at the end of the down pipe. It is the same principle as our tank system. But take heed that if you have this on a large building your barrel will overflow very quickly. Why not investigate using a series of interconnected barrels to collect lots of water at one downpour.

    Also in this situation see about a junction in your down pipe so you have the original down pipe outlet plus the barrels. This way you can direct to either barrels or a drainage pit to pipe the extra water to the areas storm water drainage system.

    If you aren’t connected to one you can put you own drainage in to a good overflow are. Arranging to dissipate the water’s energy so it doesn’t scour out the soil.

    Ciao
    Helen

    1. Hi there Helen

      Many thanks for stopping by and offering great feedback comments, these are very much appreciated. I agree with you 100% about collecting the rainwater with a series of interconnected barrel containers, especially where there has been a downpour, you would definitely create a great reserve for use later on in the garden

      The issue with raised beds is that they use a bit more water than usual and we need to address this problem as best we can. Harvesting rainwater is a great solution for us gardeners and the beauty is this its all free. If we have to pay for our water for the garden, at the end of the year we could have a heafty bill, thats for sure.

      Many thanks again for dropping by and happy gardening

      Cheers again

      Phil Browne

  4. I love gardening and I am partial to raised beds. One question that I have regarding the water “source,” I.e., a gutter system attached to a building, are there any additional steps to be taken to ensure the barrel of water does not contain debris or fungus or other anything else detrimental to your bed which may come from the guttering? My thought is the rain water reaches a gutter system from a roof, or guttering that may contain potentially diseasesd plant material from nearby, is it possible that the barrel water would contain contaminates? Would it spread the disease to the bed?
    Also, how much longer would it take to fill a barrel that is not attached to a downspout? I understand it would depend on the amount of rain, but I am also thinking the water collected won’t have to be used the same day it is collected.
    I hope you are able to follow
    my thought process concerning my last question because I am not sure I can. Thank you!!

    1. Hi there Carole
      Many thanks for stopping by, very much appreciated. I understand your concerns and I agree with you that water can be contaminated. People have been collecting rainwater for yonks and using it for gardening purposes as well as for other uses. I guess you would have to go to extraordinary measures to prevent contaminents from getting into the water like nettings, filters, strainers and other such devices. Some of the water harvesting containers that are available online or from your hardware store have these measures preinstalled already, so those utensils may be suitable for these reasons.
      Many thanks again for stopping by
      Happy gardening
      Cheers……Phil Browne

    2. Carole, if you read my comment above I noted using a junction so extra water can be safely, without erosion, direct water to a discharge area.

      What you can do, if you live in an area where pollution is possible, is to leave the junction switched to drain to the drainage system. Once the gutters and down pipe/s are flushed, switch the junction back to going into the drums.

      This works as a simple first flush system.

      We have mesh over our gutters so most debris is blown away by the wind. But some really fine stuff gets in so we will soon have a first flush system ourselves.

      Ciao
      Helen

      1. Hi there Helen,
        Many thanks for these great suggestions, These are very welcome.
        I will pass those ideas on to Helen and I am sure these will be very helpful to her.
        THe great thing about purchasing standalone rainwater harvesting barrels is that they are fitted with all these devices and gadgets, in order to collect the rainwater without all the litter and debris etc etc…they have mesh screens, drainage taps and waterhose fittings for this purpose.
        Thanks again for stopping by again.
        Cheers……..Phil Browne.

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