To say that my dad, Tony Thomas, is handy is as much an understatement as saying that food is a complicated and fascinate subject. So when he decided to devise a rainwater collection contraption to self water his tomato plants when he’s away (and save money on an expensive water bill) he became a man on a mission.
Since the entire point of this endeavor was to recycle the natural abundance of Southern Florida (where rain is ubiquitous) he made to sure to use recycled materials whenever possible for the project. His first step was collecting gutters, which were being discarded from a new roofing job. On the logistics sides he had to add down spouts and end caps, cover the top of the gutters so leaves and debris does not enter the system, and paint all the items for esthetic values.
Before setting the rainwater barrels, he had to build a stand to elevate them so he could obtain the pressure to push the water to the plants. This material was also recycled as it was discarded fencing material intended for a landfill.
Once the base was built he could start with the barrels. First he gave them a good washing. Even though they were food grade (some had contained vegetable oil) and he wanted them as clean as possible (very important even for just watering plants). The barrels, which are inverted so that they will self-drain and do not need a pump to dispense (only gravity), were placed on the stand and connected in a series with a manifold arrangement.
Similar to punching a vent in a can, none of the barrels would drain if they were not all vented. The arranged PVC venting/overflow system at the top was devised to vent all of the individual barrels and should they all fill up to overflow out to they bottom of the vent stack. The vent stack was screened at the top so no insects could lay their eggs in the water and the bottom of the overflow has a pantyhose rubber banded over the end (Green yet again) so insects couldn’t invade that way either.
Tony (aka Dad) then added the facets at the end so that he can place both a timer (attached to the drip hose which will run throughout the beds when he’s away) and a regular hose to water individual plants. When I talked to him about this adventure he said it was raining hard that night and that he should have 220 gallons before the night was through.
Super handy and super Green (both environmentally and fiscally)!
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