Agriculture

Catching the Rain

Imagine, catching the rain.

I’ve spent a year getting ready to do just that. Over the last month, my system of downpipes, pipes, siphons (to go uphill, yay, very important) and barrels has been in place. I can store 1800 litres of water now, and another 200 litres in buckets out by the greenhouse for immediate use. This is what I’ve learned so far:

1. It’s expensive. Costs are over $2000.
2. In ten minutes of rain, I can catch 200 litres from half my roof. That’s all I’m set up for right now. The rest goes into the lilac and sumacs and the filbert along my west fence.
3. In a month, I have caught 4800 litres. There has been excess, pouring out to water the spruce tree. She’s a nice spruce tree, full of birds. We love her.
4. The water is wonderful to use. It’s soft, like silk.
5. Watering without a pressurized hose is a surprisingly aesthetic and spiritual experience. It just plain feels joyful.
6. It’s expensive. For 5,000 litres, the city charges $4.50.
7. I find it’s really enjoyable to tend to my water in the rain.
8. 1800 litres should allow me to water my greenhouse for a month. It should allow me to water my garden beds and greenhouse for a couple weeks.

There is another benefit. Every summer, the city starts shutting down water access. Seeing as June is our wettest month, that should allow me to have enough water to see me through to the middle of July, when the heat (and water restrictions) really hit, and when I plan to shut my garden down except for essential hot weather crops and root crops for fall harvest. That should extend my water storage to cover the month, until I plant again on August 15 for fall harvest. I’m expecting a thunderstorm or two, and given that

9. In a moderate rain, I store 100 litres in five minutes
10. In a thunderstorm, I should get 2000 litres in 20 or 30 minutes. That’s a guess, but those storms can really come down. It’s like having a lake opened up overhead.

So, with two thunderstorms before September, I should be able to see myself through any water shutdown, until mid-September. The other thing I’ve done is that I’ve installed drip irrigation throughout my gardens, which don’t tend to be restricted. This should mean that when the drought comes and water is restricted, I can draw a little from the city, for my trees and berries and grapes, and cover anything else with my rain system. And, really, whatever this all costs,

11. It’s about the price of a fridge and stove. Essential appliances, in other words, with a big ethical, aesthetic and spiritual payback.

Right now, it’s been raining. The system is full and the spruce is drinking the overflow and turning it into green feathers.

Life without hope is hardly life at all, right? (Next year I hope to publish a handy pamphlet on all this.) Now, get out there and splash around in the rain like a tree, eh.

 

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