Sunday, March 31, 2013

Hallelujah! He is Risen

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suff’ring and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Home Rooftop Rainwater Harvesting

Arizona allows and encourages the practice of collecting roof runoff for reuse on your property.  Check whether your state allows this via Google. Some do, some don't, based on their basic water law, i.e. who owns the rain. Not joking -- I was listening to a radio station while driving through Utah and it sure sounded like Utah owns the rain that falls within the state boundaries....

108 gallon stack barrels (53 gallons each) by Arid Solutions
Collections tanks and cisterns can be expensive and obtrusive, but there are ways to reduce the cost and the visual impact. I bought tanks about 10 years ago, before they got really expensive. I wanted to add another recently and discovered that I couldn't afford another one of the type I have.  The model had more than doubled in cost! 
This is a 200 gallon barrel in a backyard.
Metal dome in the top center is just a bowl I turn over to keep it from becoming a birdbath. We added the gutters for less than $100. Dear Husband did the work, materials were from Home Depot. 

I thought I'd provide a few references and ideas for you handy-people who want to have a little more clean water for your home use. If you live near a Farm, Ranch or feed store, you can usually pick up a 30 to 50 gallon barrel that can be easily converted for rainwater harvest storage for under $50.  I like using rainwater on some of my plants because our groundwater is alkaline. Even when using containers and potting soil, I can't grow blueberries without rainwater -- too alkaline! Kills them fast.

When deciding how large a system to install, consider your rain seasonality, roof size and budget.  Some sites have calculators that allow you to plug in your rainfall and roof size, but essentially for every 1000 SF of roof and 1/2 inch of rain, you have potential to collect 300 gallons of water.  The first little bit of rain may be needed to wet the roof, especially with standard shingles, but after that, it's yours. My 200 gallon barrel has a diverter that goes to an old boxwood hedge. It is lush, so I need to re-think that and put it to better use!

My favorite DIY is using corrugated metal culverts.  It's definitely work, because you need a concrete pad, but the cost is manageable in bites as you go along.  A 46 inch culvert, 4 feet high will store 300 gallons of water. A good, frost-resistant commercial tank will cost you about $600 for the same capacity. You can probably do better using this method or if your area has prolonged freezes (or are a glutton for punishment) and need it to be below ground, this one.

I've seen people around here hide the metal with paint, stucco or stucco walls.  When we walk the dog in the nearby riparian park, we can see into some backyards, where most people put their tanks. What variety!  We see some that are house-colored, some big black 2500 gallons jobs, others are the 55 gallon blue ones.  People are good about mosquito screens, so we've seen no increase of bugs as the harvesting has increased.

In areas with an urban runoff problem, rooftop capture can be a great method to reduce the runoff, especially if the entire neighborhood decides to harvest their rainwater.  It can reduce your water bill or electric bill when you buy or pump less water. Worst case, add a little Clorox (maybe run it through a coffee filter) and you can drink it!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Yam I am

Probably should have posted this one here and linked from the other one, but too late. It's about starting and growing your own yams.  If you're a yam fan, this is a must-read!
Baby yam plants waiting to grow big enough to go outside.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Will wonders never cease?

Just saw this on one of my favorite websites,
Check out the running shoe!

ADVERTISE AT THE EDGE OF SPACE: is pleased to announce a unique advertising opportunity. We can launch your ad banner or product to the edge of space itself. Take a look at this running shoe or this bobble-head figure. In collaboration with Earth to Sky Calculus, a student-run corporation based in Bishop, California, will fly a helium research balloon to 120,000 feet where your ad, picture, birthday greeting or other item can be photographed against the limb of the Earth. Liftoff is scheduled for 9 am on April 22nd, Earth Day 2013! Contact Dr. Tony Phillips for pricing and details.                              

Thursday, March 14, 2013