Thursday, July 24, 2008

How about composting?

I just read an article in a local paper where the author said that everyone should have a compost pile. And the reason behind his claim was that it should not cost anything.

Of course this holds true for all folks who have a yard. Apartment dwellers and condo owners would be excluded. (However there are indoor composters available.)

This year I took a corner in my yard to actively maintain a compost heap. It is nothing extravagant. Just a pile of discarded vegetables and fruit peels topped with leaves and some grass clippings. As the author said you do not need expensive tumblers or containers to get started. If you want to spend the money go ahead - It will still make you "green" in the long run. I'm too cheap to go for the expensive containers.

This is pretty easy. At the rate that we add kitchen wastes we should have a good pile to be used to fertilize my plants next year. I'll have to let you know how that works out.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Update on my home made rain barrels.

It rained pretty good here last week so I decided to get hardware and paint the second barrel.

So I needed to find another 3/4 in bulkhead fitting. I decided to go to one of the mom and pop hardware stores in our area, as I know they carry all kinds of plumbing supplies. I found the same Hayward fitting for the same $21 price as I installed on the first barrel. Then I found a plastic spigot for $3.97. Man what a deal!
As there is no substantial water pressure behind it this should work.

I painted the barrel in the same manner as the first one and installed the spigot.

In order to have the water flow from one barrel into the other, I made a short hose with connectors on both ends. (Like most people I always have an old hose laying around to cut up and reuse.) After connecting the hose to both barrels' spigots I opened the faucet on both causing the water to flow from one into the other. Thanks to my father for the physics lesson.

Here is a picture of both barrels.
They are both filled after a good night's rainfall.

Plastic barrels painted to be rain barrels

The plants are loving it. We'll have a dry week this week, but our plants will keep sipping on rainwater.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Using a rainbarrel to recover rainwater

Who says you have to spend a lot of money to "Go Green"?
Well, many people may think that you have to spend a lot of money to reduce your carbon foot print.

Some will think they have to put up expensive solar panels. Others think they have to buy expensive appliances.

Well you have to think: "What is there around the house that I can do to "Go Green" without breaking the bank?"

Maybe it is just changing some of our habits, such as reducing the length of showers every member in the house takes to just 5 minutes. This will actually save you money without spending a dime. You have just saved water, saved on gas/electric to heat the water and sent less water down the drain to be processed by the sewage plant.

Speaking of reducing the amount of water we use; I was able to acquire some 55 gallon recyclable plastic barrels to turn into rain barrels. We get enough rain here in Upstate New York, so why not collect some.

I have already painted and installed a spigot on one. This first one served as my test model.

I found the cost to buy one of these could run you well over $100, depending on where and what you buy.

Well I ended up spending just under $50. I spend about 3 to 4 hours total painting it and installing the spigot. I am hoping to reduce the cost a little more now that I know what parts I need. I am also sure I can reduce the time spent on painting and installing the little faucet on it, now that I know what I am doing there.

Plain rain barrel

Here are pictures of the barrel before and after paint. (The blue stood out a little too much.) I will have to add a second barrel next to this one as one good rain storm filled it up and more.

Completed rain barrel with spigot

I am using the rainwater to water all the plants around the house. And because my mother gave us a bunch of new perennials this spring, there are plenty to water.

It makes it easy for the kids to help water the plants. They don't have to use the faucet in the garage, which saves me from having to dry the garage floor after them.

The bottom line: Our family just became a little "Greener" without spending a lot of money.