September 16, 2012

My Rain Barrel is Full...Now What?

We installed a rain barrel at the beginning of the summer, but now that the garden is winding down and cooler weather is coming in the Northeast, what can we do with all the leftover rainwater before the first freeze?
rain barrel
At the beginning of the summer, I was infusing the rain barrel with compost tea bags (now available!) to feed the garden and houseplants. Even with watering twice a day on non-rainy days, our rain barrel has been constantly near-full. 

Here are some great suggestions I've learned for using up the rainwater left in your rain barrel, without concern for treating or filtering it:

-Wash cars or bikes- Washing your vehicle at home with the hose can use up to 100 gallons of fresh water (yikes!). If you use the water from your rain barrel, you are likely to use much less.  Aside from having to fill up the bucket by hand, you’ll also need to do the rinsing on your own- making this great exercise, too!

-Clean outdoor lawn furniture- Mix equal parts white vinegar and rain water to make an eco-friendly wash for your outdoor furniture.  This mixture is safe for wood, plastic, vinyl, and fabric.

-Rinse off outdoor tools and gardening equipment- Before you stash them for the winter, give your shovels, rakes, hoes, and planters a little dousing and let them dry in the sun.  You’ll be thankful in the spring!

-Top off your pond or outdoor water feature- Many times by the end of summer, landscape ponds or outdoor water feature water levels may have fallen a few inches.  Go ahead and replenish with your free water source!

-Remove algae from your siding or cement porches/driveways- Again, use the white vinegar and rain water mixture to scrub off green algae film from your vinyl siding or cement surfaces.

There are more ambitious ways you could use your rainwater- like to flush toilets or for washing rags in washing machines- but I'm just a beginner this year, so I'm suggesting the easiest and most basic ways to drain the barrel for now.

Still to come this week:  1st year organic gardening lessons learned and my plans for an off season ground rebound with vermicompost.

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Sharon Strock said...

These are all great pieces of information. One important reminder though: the water harvested from a rain barrel is different from tap water, so be mindful on how to use it properly. For example, if you’re going to use it to water vegetables, avoid sprinkling the water on the parts that you’ll eat in order to avoid contamination.

Jill.BF said...

Excellent info- thanks for sharing. I had no idea about that, but it makes sense.