Got a lot of blackberries? Then check out this recipe for Blackberry Mojito Fruit Leather.

I'm not a huge fan of fruit leathers, but this turned out super good! And, really, you can't go wrong with blackberries, mint and rum.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The not so ugly rain barrel

Most rain barrels are hideously ugly. They either look like giant plastic oil drums or huge pickle barrels and come in exciting colors like black or red, attempting to look like terracotta. I've always wanted to get one that looked a little more like a garden sculpture rather than a garden eyesore.

It's been years that I've been planning on buying one, but never really got around to doing it mostly because I've been deterred on the idea of rain barrels ever since learning that, with an asphalt roof, you really shouldn't use the water on food crops. The issue has a lot to do with the composite roof deteriorating and collecting in the water. I've seen this happen in our downspouts and drainage and it's really not something I want to put on my food.

Anyway, the other week I had a brilliant idea. Well, at least I thought so. Instead of using the roof run-off, I could use a rain barrel as a giant collection tank for my clean, drinkable shower warm-up water that I save. Water that I have no where to store if it's raining out and can't use immediately (which is far too often around here). Water that I could use not only on my flowering plants, but also on my edibles. So, I done got myself a rain barrel. But, not any average rain barrel - one that isn't as ugly as the standard kind.

It looks like a large clay urn from afar. Up close, you can tell it's plastic, but the cool thing is that it has a planter on top. If you leave the receptacle as is, it can double as a bird bath, but I drilled holes in it, layered it with cloth barrier and planted a cyclamin and two alpine strawberry plants. As you can see from the picture, it's not hooked up to the downspout, but it is right next to the deck and I have it placed where I can lean over the deck to dump the water without too much effort.

Of course, I can always hook it up to the downspout if I decide to use it for that purpose one of these days. Or, if we replace our roof with something that doesn't leach zinc or other petroleum products into the water.

However, the better looks and fancy planter action will cost your more. Mine is an Algreen 81001 Cascata 65-Gallon Rain Water Collection and Storage System that I got through Amazon*, but at least I got free shipping. I didn't think I'd enjoy having a rain barrel so much, but it's been incredibly satisfying so far saving all that water. And, the box it came in has been turned into a rather well-used castle.

Note for the FTC: I am an Amazon Affiliate, so clicking on the product link and buying something from Amazon may just result in a referral kick-back for me to buy more rain barrels :)

12 comments:

Brenna said...

That is pretty! We don;t have any rain barrels (yet) but my kid's school has some really pretty ones too... although now I am wondering what kind of roof the school has and if they use that water on edibles!

Christina said...

Much prettier than mine, although mine is mostly hidden behind the rosemary. I don't collect roof-water, for all the reasons you mention, but I do dump assorted clean kitchen water there (from canning, cheesemaking, yogurt making, thawing things, etc). Shower's on the third floor and I don't trust myself to lug the warm-up water down the stairs without spilling it or hurting myself. If only the HOA would approve a third-floor-window-to-barrel-funnel system...

Tree Huggin Momma said...

I am still looking for a rain barrel that isn't plastic. I would love one that was actually terracotta or galvanized metal - that looked pretty. I will be in the same boat as you for a while (I just reroofed the back half of my roof 4 years ago) but when I complete the garage and front roofs, I am going metal and will see if there is any reason not to collect that water. Would love to collect my shower water, but that requires bringing it down the stairs, and I just don't see that happening.

Suze said...

We have a 3000 litre tank and an old barrel or two around the place. Having just come out of a long drought we have learned to economise on water.

But I love that planter/barrel. I wonder if they sell them in Australia? I am off to research.

Farmer's Daughter said...

That's pretty! We don't ave one, but it always make me think of my grandfather's ugly white pails that caught water off the roof. Funny how he was super cheap, which translates to green today :)

Anonymous said...

Recently I had been getting geared up to start looking for a rain barrel or two to install at our place to use for the herb and veggie gardens, but I had no idea the water was not safe to use on edibles until now. I just went back and read your older post and all the comments, and now I'm just totally dismayed by it all. This, in conjunction with reading an article this morning on the health hazards of flame retardants that are embedded in *everything*, has made me very mopey and want to just throw my hands up in the air.

Earth mama said...

Hmmm I had never heard of the asphalt roof thing. I may have to rethink what was going to be my future purchase of rain barrels. Thanks for the info!

Michelle said...

We plan to buy some rain barrels this weekend. I had thought I would use them in the garden -- hadn't even thought about the asphalt stuff! But, I can still use the water on my non-edible plants and flower pots.

Love the looks of this one. It's much prettier than anything I've seen so far.

Alissa said...

Thanks for this post; I had no idea a
bout the asphault roof thing! I'll have to pass this on to my husband, who has been thinking about installing a rain barrel.

Sarah said...

Pretty rain barrel! I didn't know about the roof thing, we have been using an ugly rain barrel for our garden. Though with the lack of rain here this spring we have been reusing the water from my daughters kiddie pool more than rain water.

Sonja said...

What a cool idea!

i heart spinning said...

yeah, the asphalt thing is exactly why I don't have one yet. I could do the collect the extra clean water around the house thing though. Thanks for the idea. Nichole from Seattle

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