Save it for a Sunny Day!

rain barrel people

There has been considerable talk of flooding and excess rain in recent weeks.  Truth is, the weather in the Midwest is unpredictable and prone to extremes at best. Too much rain in the spring and not enough in the summer is typical to this region. The hot dry summers are hard on lawns, reduce the garden harvests and put a good size dent in the water consumer’s wallet. Nearly 40% of household water is sprinkled on lawns and gardens during the warm months.

Ervin and Florence Abeln have found an answer to Mother Nature’s whims. They harvest the rain in barrels when it is plentiful and use it on their flowers, fruits and vegetables during the dry spells. “My Uncle Louie always said we should take the rain when we can get it, because come July you can’t buy any rain”, said Florence, “So that is what we do.” Typically plants thrive with rainwater because it is naturally soft and free of chlorine and fluoride. Ervin modified the downspout from the garage guttering to flow into two barrels at once. Even a light rain will produce considerable rainwater as it runs off the roof. A half an inch of rain falling on a 1000 square-foot roof can yield 300 gallons of water.

Building your own rain barrel is simple and inexpensive, especially if you already have guttering available. It is just a matter of shortening the downspout and setting a barrel under it. With this type of set up you will have to use a bucket to carry the water to your plants, but other options are available. Standing water always brings the mosquito to mind. This pest can be easily controlled with just a few drops of cooking oil added to the top of the barrel. Also, keep in mind any small children in the neighborhood, you may need to childproof your rainbarrel.

Information on how to build a rain barrel can be found at City Hall or by clicking here.