In monsoon season we never worry about a lack of water—but we do have dry seasons. And collecting rain while we’re getting it is a great way to extend your water.
The average roof collects 600 gallons of water for every inch of rainfall. That’s a lot of water you could use for your garden. There are some easy ways—and low cost, too—to put in a rain water collection system.
The easiest way is simply to plant a container garden under your roof line. The run off from the roof will water your plants for you, both with snow melt in spring and rain monsoon season.
If you want to store rain water for dry seasons, start off by getting a water storage barrel online. It’s cheaper to get used barrels—and keeps them out of landfills. Check Craigslist, the J&P pawn shop in Socorro, or ask hardware stores. Just be sure to clean the barrel, and buy a barrel that did not contain oil, pesticides, or toxic substances that would pollute your water.
Mount your barrel on a few concrete blocks or even on old wood. If it’s up higher, you can use gravity feed for a watering hose.
With your barrel in place, run a rain gutter along the edge of the roof and into the top of the barrel. Keep the barrel covered to keep out insects and mice.
Drill a hole a few inches up from the bottom and attach a spigot to the outside and a coupling to the inside. Teflon tape and washers will make a tight seal. You can get these supplies from Southwest Supply, or any other local hardware store. You’ll want to buy:
A hose and a standard one -inch hose spigot with threequarter inch pipe threads
A one and thee-quarter inch by three-quarter inch coupling
a three-quarter inch by three-quarter inch bushing
A one and three-quarterinch pipe thread with a oneinch hose adapter
A one and three-quarterinch lock nut four washers A roll of Teflon thread tape You can install a second, third or more barrels. To connect barrels, drill a hole just like you did for the spigot, but put the overflow a couple of inches below the top of the barrel.
Use a one and thee-quarter inch by three-quarter inch coupling. Put one of these on each barrel and connect them with a length of hose or Pex. Use hoses that can expand without breaking.
Winterize your system with insulation around the barrels and pipes, or by draining the system in late fall before the first snow. Also consider placement. Collection systems on the north side are more likely to freeze and stay frozen than on a south-facing side of the building.
Even if you only collect a little rain water, it’ll get you a head start in spring with your garden.