When we moved into this house back in 2003, there were many things about it that struck me as curious. Remember, both Ken and I had spent most of our adult lives living in cities and had to make a kind of adjustment to our new country life. Well, we live in the country, but ours is not really a country life; we're not farming or raising animals or anything like that.
I found all manner of tools and things in our garage and garden shed left by the previous owner. I had no idea what most of them were for, or why one needed them. I even found a scythe, of all things. Over time, I've come to learn about most of what I found, and even use some of it. Much of it was old and broken or on the verge of breaking, so out it went, but I kept the stuff that looked to be in good shape. I even kept the scythe.
One item that I thought was kind of interesting was this molded fiberglass rain barrel sitting under a downspout on one corner of the house. It has holes drilled on one side, top and bottom, through which bits of garden hose are inserted. The one at the bottom drains out the water and was capped, the one at the top is for overflow. There were also two large plastic barrels similarly rigged up to one of the downspouts on the garden shed out back.
All the barrels were full of water when we moved in. They were also full of mosquito larvae, decaying leaves, and the bloated bodies of drowned lizards. Since we moved in during a heat wave, with little or no rain at all that summer, it didn't take us long to empty the barrels to water plants and, afterward, we pretty much forgot about them.
I disconnected the barrels out by the shed, and I left the drain hose uncapped on the barrel by the house so that no water would actually collect in it. And I left it like this for the years since (I lost the cap). But just the other day I re-thought this whole thing. Now that we are connected to the town sewer system, our water rates have increased tremendously to pay for sewage treatment and such, and it seems a shame not to take advantage of rain water for the garden.
Among the stuff I saved from the garden shed was a collection of hose connectors. In France, garden hoses are sold bare. That is, there are no permanent connectors attached to them as in the US. The ends of the hoses are just cut off. But, every hardware store has a whole selection of every kind of connector you can imagine, and gardeners use them to connect lengths of hose together and to connect hoses to spigots, sprayers, sprinklers, etc.
So, I figured, I could use those "snap-to"connectors that were still in good working order to connect my garden hose to the rain barrel when it's full of water and use that water in the garden. I swear, my mind is like a steel trap. One that's been rusted shut, mostly. You see, the previous owner had already rigged all of this up, but I had dismantled it. Partly because it was old and in very bad shape. Partly because the previous owner was a bricoleur and rigged things up in funny ways. And partly because, with my city eyes, I didn't quite get it.
So I hooked it up this past week and it works. Pretty much. The garden is just slightly lower in elevation than the rain barrel, so the flow rate isn't all that high. But still, it's free water, and it's much more ecological than using treated water on the garden. Oh, I'll still have to water with the expensive stuff (at least it's not Perrier), but I can supplement with rain water and that will help.
Now I've become the bricoleur. Ah, tradition.
Chard, tender and green
14 hours ago