While putting her plants outside before a coming rain shower, my aunt, replying to my question of why, said, “So they can get some natural water”. She was referring to the use of rain water versus tap water which contains a lot of chemicals that the plants don’t need. That would never have occurred to me, but, on thinking about her comment, it made perfect sense. Shortly after, I spotted an article in a gardening magazine offering rain barrels. The barrels would collect rain water from the guttering holding it until such time as one’s plants needed watering. It’s a healthy, green alternative for your plants using tap water never mind the savings on one’s water bill. There were a wide variety of rain barrels offered and I planned to buy them after moving so the gardening magazine was packed.
After everything settled down from the move, I studied that magazine and it’s web site focusing on the rain barrels. Only the price stopped me since they were priced from about $100 up to $400; however, a local magazine, Tennessee Gardener, contained a section called “Upcoming Events” which lists all activities in the surrounding area. There was one event that immediately drew my attention. The University of Tennessee Gardens offered a class in making rain barrels for much less cost than buying one so I registered for the class. This would be my first venture out for fun and learning since moving here.
Our class was made up of about seven people, mostly women, who shared my excitement at being able to make our own rain barrels. There in the middle of room sat these fifty-five gallon white plastic “barrels” with various equipment loaded on top. The only thing I recognized was the faucet which our instructor, Beth, explained is called a hose bibb. The other items were a male adaptor, and a wire gutter guard. Within a half hour, Beth explained what had to be done and it was time to begin assembling ours.
She had previously drilled out a large hole on top for a connection to the gutter, a hole at the bottom for the hose bibb, and added a hole at the top for overflow during the class. We inserted our hose bibb (faucet) at the bottom adding a bit of plumbing sealant to insure no dripping. Then, you can use exterior latex paint to decorate them in whatever color you want. Thanks, Beth, for a great, informative class and for the use of your materials. It was a great time and I plan to make many more “barrels”. Using rain barrels doesn’t have to mean spending a lot of money; it does mean enabling yourself to have water available for your plants whether you are watering seedlings in the spring or watering plants during a dry summer.