DukeMaverick
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Location: Roseville CA

Rain water storage

Most of the west coasters are probably aware of the drought we are facing. I am thinking of purchasing a 50 gallon water barrel to collect from my gutters when it eventually rains. (Hopefully it does!)

My intension is to use the water for my veggie garden. I have a few questions for those that have stored rain water;

How quickly do you go through your stored water? (I have a raised bed that is about 96 sqft)
Are Mosquitos a big problem?
If so how do you deal with them? I've seen mosquito dunks, but are those considered a pesticide? I'd like to keep my garden organic.

Any other tips for a newbie gardener looking to store water.

Thanks!
Roseville CA
Sunset Zone: 14
USDA Hardiness Zone: 8a

Bobberman
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Re: Rain water storage

Just keep a cover on the water and no bugs! I have several containers 50 gallon that hold water from gutters on the greenhouse. I have water all the time. Use a hose to connect to several 50 gallon drums and the water level will go down in each barrel at the same time using the syphoning effect. You can this way make a 100 gallon container with barrels not even close to each other!The hose has to run to the bottom of each when you syphon one to the other and will never loose its syphoning effect as long as the hose has no air leaks! You can have a 50 gallon drum 30 feet away from the gutter barrel and have the water close to the garden! You can even run the hose under ground and it will syphon up hill as long as the water gets no air!
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Rain water storage

Mosquito dunks are not a pesticide. They are Bt (bacillus thuringiensis) a bacterium which only infects certain insect larvae and is harmless to everything else. Nonetheless, Bobber is right, if you just cover/screen your rain barrels, there will be no mosquito issue. I have two 75 gallon rain barrels with screen covers and no mosquito issues (from them - the pond at the bottom of our hill is another story! :( ) .

I don't think anyone can tell you how long your water will last. It depends on your climate and what you grow. My rain barrels stay full most of the time, except in the worst drought, because I live in a rainy, humid climate.

But 50 gallons is not very much. If I lived in your climate, I would look into cisterns or at least larger containers. My Quaker Meeting got a 200 gallon rain container for free from a company that uses the containers. It is a large, clear plastic cube and came complete with the fittings to make it a rain barrel.
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Re: Rain water storage

I have a 50 gallon plastic barrel in the center of one greenhouse 15 feet away from my water collection barrel. The hose I have extended into each barrel from the top to bottom keeps both barrels at the same level all the time. I am taking water from one barrel but it is a total of 100 gallons of both barrels. The syphon never fails as long as the hoses opening is at the bottom of the barrel. I can add another barrel even 20 feet away from either barrel just by adding another garden type syphoning hose. Any hose or tube will work! You never have to resyphon as long as the hose remails in the water. Water does flow up hill in the syphoning effect even 10 feet high!
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DukeMaverick
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Re: Rain water storage

Thanks for the info all, can't wait to get set up!
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USDA Hardiness Zone: 8a

imafan26
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Re: Rain water storage

I have my rain barrels hooked up in sequence. I have two now but I want to connect two more. I put a screen over the top and I use bleach (the algae grows in the barrel) and it will dissipate if I wait a couple of weeks. I also put Bt in the drum.

I only have my barrels raised up about 16 inches. It would drain faster if I had it up about 4 ft, but I live in commieville and the barrels need to keep a low profile. The water does not go that far and unfortunately the way rain works , you will have too much water when you don't need it and cannot contain it al. The barrels will overflow in a heavy rain when you don't need to water and the barrels will be empty when you do. So it is best to have more barrels hooked together and it would be nice to get the barrels up high enough at least to get a bucket under the spigot. I connect a garden hose to the outlet to fill my bucket. I could connect a drip line to the barrel and run it down hill down the side of the yard (about 40 ft run) It would be good for one watering.

Some people bury the drums so it is unobtrusive and you can have a lot of drums that way, but you need a pump to pump the water out. There are 500 gallon square tanks that are usually used for gasoline that are really strong, but really heavy but it works well buried. You have to get a new tank though that hasn
t been used yet. Businesses will sometimes have them to fill their vehicles in the yards.

BTW water barrels are heavy so whatever you lift them on has to be able to handle the weight. I used concrete blocks.

To make the water go farther, I put the water in 5 gallon buckets and dunk my potted plants in them. I can do all the orchids in the front yard (about 40) and 7 pots. The rest I have to pour the water out of the buckets into the pots. It takes about 8 buckets (about half a barrel) to do one watering in the front yard. It does not include the grass. I have a small yard. My front yard is bisected by a fence so I am actually only watering a 20x25 ft section of mostly potted plants.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Rain water storage

Yeah, I'm not sure where Roseville is, but if you are in some of the area of SoCal where it never rains all summer, you should be aware that your little 50 gal drum will just sit empty most of the time. The year we had a really bad drought (for us), my 150 gallons of rain barrels sat empty for a couple months, when I most could have used the water.

Not saying you shouldn't do it, but really if you are serious about it, you will want more barrels.
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applestar
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Re: Rain water storage

Bobberman, can you explain the hose fittings to the barrels and how you keep them covered in more detail?

- Is the hose end open and loose on the bottom of the barrel?
- Is it bent and sideways or is the full circle of the opening more or less against the barrel bottom?
- Do you duct tape it down or something?
- Is a length of hose (presumably cut to length as necessary) draped in from the top for both barrels?
- Do you make a hole in the cover for the hose? Is the cover the original barrel cover? (Which kind of barrel do you use?)
- Do you only add a spigot to the barrel you are taking water out from or do you just dip the water out?
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Re: Rain water storage

I take water with sprinkling can or bucket! I have metal and plastic 50 gal drums. I cover the drum top with plex glass or any type of glass or wood.. The hose goes over the barrel edge bending down to the very bottom . The length of the hose does not matter but when you start the syphon effect hold both ends of the hose in your hand and fill up with water till you see the water on both ends of the hose. Hold your finger over the edge and insert it into the barrels water that have at least a foot of water in each! Hose opening must be below water at all time or you loose the water pull that the air replaced!The hose length does not matter it can even be coiled up.! The height of the water level seeks a neutral height with gravity! If one barrel is lower than the other the lower barrel will fill over the top first. Any hose or plastic tubing will work. Place a brick over the bottom of the hose so you won't accidently pull it off the bottom! I leave the hose TIGHT AGAINST THE TOP COVER SO THERE IS A SMALL OPENING IN THE TOP. yOU CAN NOTCH OUT THE TOP IF YOU WANT TO KEEP THE HOSE BELOW THE TOP! As long as you have both ends of the hose in the water they will always syphon. You can add other barrels even 50 feet away and it will work the same. They use this technique to measure the leveling of homes when they build the foundations. I hope this makes sense.! Any questions?
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imafan26
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Re: Rain water storage

This is the cornell pub for rain barrels and how to link them from the top.


https://www.ccelivingstoncounty.org/Gard ... Barrel.pdf

I link mine from the bottom. I connect the spigot from one barrel to the spigot of the second barrel with a short section of hose. Both ends have to be female. Washing machine hoses work well for length but you can get a hose remnant or cut a section of hose and make two female ends. The barrels will fill up at the same time at the same level. One barrel will need to be connected to the overflow and drained to ground for when it rains and the rain barrels overflow. I connect another section of hose to a drain hole drilled about two inches down from the top of the barrel. I put in an adapter and connect the hose that drains the overflow out into the yard. There is a special drill bit to drill the barrels so the adapter can be threaded in. Since I knew I was connecting barrels, I did not drill an overflow drain in the first barrel. To connect additional barrels I would put a y connector on the second barrel and connect it to the spigot of the next barrel and another y connector on the third barrel to connect to the fourth. The barrel with the overflow drain must be at the same level or slightly lower than all of the other barrels to make sure that the other barrels won't overflow or end up being under filled. For insurance a second overflow drain can be drilled into the last barrel and connected to a hose to the ground. All the barrels will fill up equally, when the water gets low it is hard to get it out, so I will turn off the spigot from the second to the third barrel when it isn't raining that much and turn it on again when rain is expected. I will have to manually drain the remaining barrels from the spigot by disconnecting the attached hoses. My barrel tops do not come off so they are not that easy to clean in the dry season as I only have the inlet plugs that came with the barrels. I do have problems with algae growing in the barrels that will clog the spigot, so that is why I put bleach in the barrels to clean up the algae.

These sites have illustrations and tips for connecting multiple rain barrels.
https://www2.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/henv/he ... env201.pdf
https://www.wizardanswers.com/rain-barrel.html
https://www.kidsfromkanata.ca/files/rainbarrels.html
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Re: Rain water storage

Very nice post on the bottom connected barrels.

The way I do the barrels requires no holes and does not require anything except a hose with 2 open ends. I have no leaks since the hose is at the top and no holes in the barrels. My method you can take either end of the hose and fill a bucket up then hold finger over end and replace it into the drum! Buckets fill up quick! You never have a clogged hose. The drum you take the water from will refill from the other drum minus the water taken split between both drums. You can have as many drums connected as you want and drain any drum without effecting the other drums incase you want to move a drum! Other method The drums connected from the bottom can also have a shut off between the barrels but my method needs no shut off when disconnection a single barrel! Let me know when someone tries what I have suggested and you will see how easy it is?
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imafan26
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Re: Rain water storage

The siphon is a simple and great idea.
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Bobberman
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Re: Rain water storage

I plan to change my hose to a 1 inch flex clear hose. The 1 inch clear hose cost about $15 for 20 feet. You can squeeze it together when reinserting into the drum so no air enters. The lid or cover of the drum compresses the hose some and makes the top fit more snug than with a garden hose!
The main problem with bottom hoses is a leak would cause all drums to drain! My hose system would drain all drums if the hose was left on the ground and not replaced into the drum! The clear hose requires some type of weight to hold it down. I suggest 2 heavy one inch opening bolts pushed on the bottom of the hose. Even a small piece of metal one inch pipe about 4 inches long will also work slid over the plastic tube even a small black gas pipe which is cheap will work great! This will make a very nice set up anywhere!
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imafan26
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Re: Rain water storage

Yeah, I was wondering how you kept the hose from moving.

I don't have problems with bottom leaks. I have a ball valve at the bottom attached to a short hose. I have a quick connect at the end of the short hose that connects to another hose. This setup puts less pressure on the ball valve so it is not moving as much when I connect and disconnect.
I was told it was better to have a ball valve than a faucet because the opening was larger and the water would flow better and have less issues with clogging. If algae gets stuck in the ball valve, I can clean it out with a piece of bamboo stake. I would not be able to do that with a curved faucet. I do have to make sure the quick connect actually clicks or it else it does leak.

I cannot open my ball valve all the way. Next time I will make sure my threaded adapter is the long one. That way I would not have to cut off part of my ball valve handle.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Rain water storage

I don't know if you re still around Duke, but if you are, it occurs to me that buying a bunch of rainbarrels might not be the best plan for conserving water in your climate. Even if you had one of those 200 gallon ones I mentioned, it is still likely to just sit empty most of the time, including all the times when you most need water. Rainbarrels work better for me, where we do get rain in the summer.

What would work much better for you would be some kind of grey water system, where at least some of the household water gets re-used, water from the kitchen sink, the washing machine, the shower/tub, etc. Probably any one of them would provide all the water you could possibly use and there would always be more. It's just a plumbing issue to redirect the water from going down the storm drain. Best would be having some kind of storage system for the water, but if you had a valve, you wouldn't even need that, just turn the handle to direct it into the storm drain when you don't need it or in to irrigation hose system when you do.

Given the drought in Calif, I think everyone should be reusing their grey water!

Marlingardener, you are in a dry climate. Have you thought about a grey water system?
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applestar
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Re: Rain water storage

In a hot area with no rain, another source of small amount of water is the air conditioner and/or basement de-humidifier or sump pump.

I planted a swamp azalea in a foundation bed located away from the rain gutter downspouts, but where the central air conditioner's condensation drain pipe comes out. And the constantly dripping moisture keeps the shrub happy.

If I didn't already set up the swamp azalea to receive the moisture, I could have an enclosed (i.e. No loss by evaporation) reservoir for what comes out of the pipe.

Even window air conditioners drip so some kind of clever system could be used to collect the water.
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Re: Rain water storage

imafan26 wrote:Yeah, I was wondering how you kept the hose from moving.

I don't have problems with bottom leaks. I have a ball valve at the bottom attached to a short hose. I have a quick connect at the end of the short hose that connects to another hose. This setup puts less pressure on the ball valve so it is not moving as much when I connect and disconnect.
I was told it was better to have a ball valve than a faucet because the opening was larger and the water would flow better and have less issues with clogging. If algae gets stuck in the ball valve, I can clean it out with a piece of bamboo stake. I would not be able to do that with a curved faucet. I do have to make sure the quick connect actually clicks or it else it does leak.

I cannot open my ball valve all the way. Next time I will make sure my threaded adapter is the long one. That way I would not have to cut off part of my ball valve handle.
+++You could have one new drum connected to one of your barrels from the top like I explained and use the water from all the drums by taking it from the new drum! It will syphon and give you a total water supply of all the drums and you could place the new drum even 20 feet from the main drums!
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tomc
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Re: Rain water storage

Duke, do your cisterns on the down-low. CA is real fussy about its ownership of every drop of rain water. They are going to see that rain as theirs and not yours...
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imafan26
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Re: Rain water storage

You can also try an African style keyhole garden. It was designed for use in Africa in places where water was scarce. The garden is a 6 foot circle with the walls made up of bricks or stone or whatever is available. In Africa they would make a basket out of sticks and vines because that is what they have, but here the basket can be made of wire and it will last longer. The central basket is also your compost bin as well as where you put the reclaimed water. The rest of the circle is pretty much a lasagna garden made up of layers of straw, compost, dirt, and manure. The six foot diameter is about how much area the basket can nourish with compost and water. You would toss your kitchen scraps and also the reclaimed water from the house into the basket and that willl percolate out into the rest of the keyhole garden. When it is hot, a cover is placed on top of the basket to keep it from drying out.

Water that I have reclaimed from the house. Save the water from the shower, while you are waiting for it to heat up. I use bath and sink water to flush the toilet.

For the garden. I use the kitchen rinse water. I used to run the washing machine water outside, but the soap residue actually created an impermeable layer of soap scum on the ground so, it is not a good idea to use the wash cycle water.

To make the rain barrel water go farther. I dunk the potted plants in a five gallon bucket rather than pour the water over them. I can get up to 40 orchids watered with 10 gallons of water.

https://www.texascooppower.com/texas-sto ... -gardening
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Bobberman
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Re: Rain water storage

Key Hole garden looks like it works because the water goes to the bottom and does not evaporate from the surface like when you water from the top! The compost effect also adds water slowly! Good post on Key Hole garden everyone should look at it!
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Rain water storage

We are having an excellent discussion, in the absence of the OP, who never came back after he made a few posts a month ago. Oh well, I'm still enjoying it.
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