Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Rain Barrels

Another long thought about project was some rainbarrels. My garage has a downspout that is very conveniently in the middle of my yard and near the garden. I thought it would be great to put some rain barrels there. I got a couple blue plastic barrels from a friend and promptly did nothing with them. I thought about using a diverter from my downspout and then figuring out a way to use the water. Maybe a pump? Maybe just dipping a bucket in? I didn't know where to go with it so the barrels sat in my shed for a couple years.

My wife came across this article from family handy man and I thought that was perfect. Then I realized what the wood and PVC would cost and I let it sit for another couple years. This year I built a fence and my father-in-law built a deck. Now I had some free 4x4's, 2x6's, and fence boards. I say free because I paid for them for the fence, the leftovers were basically garbage.

Two 55 gallon drums full of water is heavy (110 Gallons is about 1000lbs) so don't build a shoddy platform. This is all 2x6 construction and the 4x4's are attached on three sides to the frame. The top is fence boards but doesn't really add any structure.

Originally I didn't want to cut the tops open but I needed a way to get the plumbing in so I had to. I thought I would run the second downspout over to the second barrel but I found out later that wouldn't be required.

Everything is in place

Here is the plumbing. The pipe on the left is the overvlow, you can see it in later pictures. It goes up the inside of the barrel and the water flows into it when the barrel is full. The piping on the right connects the two barrels and also has a 1.5" valve as well as a regular garden hose valve.

This is after one night of light rain! I couldn't believe it. Both barrels almost full and only off of one downspout. Guess I don't need to worry about running the other one over here.

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I had a bit of a leak so I had to drain the barrels. It was pretty exciting and my boys loved it.

I've still got to put some screen over the openings but other than that the barrels are done. I'm going to look into watering the garden with it. Lee Valley sells kits that work with rain barrels or I might try to build a solar powered pump.

Compost Bins

Well it's been a long time since I posted. I've been busy with yard projects this summer. I built a fence and then use the old fence to build a compost bin.

I hated throwing out kitchen scraps and the garden always generates a bunch of waste so I thought a compost bin would be a good idea. I'd never built one before and only ever used one of the plastic ones. There are rebates from my city to buy one of the plastic ones but I was still looking at spending $50 and I had all this old wood from my fence sitting around. The more of the wood I can use the less it'll cost me to take the rest to the dump.

I looked at a few sites and kind of just ran with it.




I live in a really dry area so I wasn't worried about a lid and being so dry I thought wood slat sides with a little space would be the best plan. This saved me from having to buy a bunch of hardware cloth. My old fence was made of posts and long 1 x 8 boards with no stringers so I had exactly what I needed to build a bin. I had a few good 10 foot long boards so I thought a three bin composter would work well, 3 feet each.

The rear boards run the full length and give a bit of structure to the whole thing. The other walls are 3 feet long and have 4x4 posts at every corner. None of the wood is treated and it's all very old so I'm expecting this to compost itself in a few years.

The front board at the bottom adds rigidity.

The three boards on the front of each bin are removable.

All setup and in it's final location.

A month in and the compost is coming a long nicely. I didn't expect it to move very quickly but in a month half the volume is gone and it looks dark and smells like dirt. I've been told the more you mix it the faster it goes.