Rainwater Harvesting

Here is my late spring herb garden, picture was taken today.  In it, I have several kinds of thyme, rosemary, horehound (I’m not making that up), oregano, dill, catnip, catmint, basil, chives, and sage.

So!  For the last several weeks, we have had NO RAIN.  I mean, I was starting to really get worried there for a while.  Typically, our April/May months provide a pretty good amound of rain to tide us through the beginning of summer.  I cursed myself for not collecting more rainwater when it was more plentiful.  I have been collecting rainwater in plastic trash cans for several years now, though not very efficiently. I tend to forget about them…but not this year!  I used my gathered rainwater exclusively for my baby tomatoes this year. 

Anyway, after this mini dry spell, I really got to thinking about water usage and collection.  I mean…almost on the verge of obsessively thinking about it.  How much water do I use washing eggs?  How much do I use in the shower, or bath, or rinsing plates? 

There was a good reason for our grandparents using a ‘dishpan’.  I so happen to have two ‘dishpans’ and so now when I am washing eggs, or rinsing plates, I have been dutifully collecting the runoff and putting it in my garden.  This water is called ‘greywater’.  Your water that is used in your potty is called ‘blackwater’.  Anyway, there is definitely a lot for me to learn about re-using greywater.  I hope, one day, to have my kitchen and shower water diverted to my gardens.  Today, I even scooped out the bathwater after the kiddos got out.  This is NOT something you want to apply to a veggie/herb you will eat raw, though…..as, well, you know…there are ‘booty germs’ in it, but still, it watered the daylily garden anyway. 

Well, so the other day, we got a really nice rain.  I ran like mad to set out all my water collection buckets (read: anything that would hold water).  It’s amazing the amount of water that runs off of a building during a good storm!  We had tons of water, which we deposited into a couple of our water trashcans.  I also went and bought an aquarium gravel siphon @ WallyWorld, to, theoretically siphon out bath water (note to Self: the law of physics prevent this from happening in the manner I had hoped.  So I failed Siphons 101)  So, today I was walking around our shop, and we have 2 jet skis that we are keeping for someone.  The place where your feet ride was FULL of rainwater.  Well, so….I took my siphon and my trusty 5 gallon buckets:

And, out of all 4 footwells, I got almost 20 gallons of water!  So then, I took that, carried it to one of my trash barrels, threw a piece of screening that I found on the side of the road (I KNEW I’d find a use for it!!!) and poured the water through, to screen out the yucky stuff:

My future plans are to utilize some 55 gallon drums into an official rainwater gathering system. 

Water restrictions can happen anywhere at any time, so I want to do my best to be prepared for the worst.  Yay for saving free water!

Creepy Crawlies

Even as a very young child, I have always been attracted to the ‘creepy crawlies’ of Nature.  Snakes, spiders, insects, invertebrates…whatever most people had nightmares about, I was usually out catching them with my faithful bug net. 

I think about my elementary school playground teacher, Mrs. Brown.  Poor Mrs. Brown.  Mrs. Brown probably had some sort of insect phobia (unbeknownst to me) and I was always trying to hand Mrs. Brown all sorts of insects in the schoolyard.  “But, Mrs. Brown, they won’t hurt you!”, I would plead.  She would graciously turn down my tent caterpillar, grasshopper, etc.  I am not sure if she ever did eventually hold any of my prized finds.  Anyway, Mrs. Brown was in the same Sunday school class as my Mamaw and would always tell her how I was forever trying and trying to get her to hold one of my critters and how I would chase boys with worms. 

Anyway, I am proud to say that my own little ones are fairly fearless around invertebrates, and little Zoe carried around a poor tent caterpillar for days, calling it, “my little friend”.  Tent caterpillars, though somewhat destructive to some trees, have always intrigued me.  Honestly, they look like a crawling Oriental rug.  Their patterns are so complex and beautiful.  Here is one of Zoe’s ‘little friends’:

Of course, these little guys do not possess stinging hairs, however many caterpillars DO and some are extremely painful, so be sure you know what you’re picking up!  Here is another little guy  I found on one of our gates the other day. 


Generally, the more colorful the caterpillar, the best it is to NOT TOUCH. Not always true, though, as in the case of the potentially dangerous Puss caterpillar ,  which is what your grandparents call an ‘asp’.  I remember Mamaw nearly having a heart attack when I found a Wooly Bear larvae one day beside her house.  “Asp! Asp!  You stay away from that!” as my Papaw ground the poor little Wooly Bear into oblivion.  Naturally, I had to run into the house and grab my favorite book, my Reader’s Digest North American Wildlife identification book, only to discover that Wooly Bears are completely harmless.  Oh well.  You will often see Wooly Bears crossing the road in the fall.

Anyway, here is a neat little spider I found today, hanging out on my dill:

They may be creepy and crawly, but they all really do serve a purpose!  Well, maybe except cockroaches.  I can do without the cockroaches!  But, seriously, I don’t use pesticides for the simple fact that they indiscriminately kill bugs, whether they are ‘pests’ or not.  When you kill one link in the chain of life, the chain can’t go on.