A rain barrel setup, with a white pipe extending from a gutter.
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The initiative behind out rain barrel project is to move away from pumping water from wells and, instead, collect rain water that can be used to irrigate the vegetable garden, our fruit trees and eventually, the rest of the gardens here at HollyHedge. We even keep the water bowls full in the barnyard! Because such a large quantity of water can be consumed here during events of up to 200 people at a time, we are making a concentrated effort to conserve water wherever we can.

So far, we have installed a 1550 gallon barrel at the back of the tractor barn. A hose connects the barrel to the drip irrigation lines that we have set up in the vegetable garden. Gravity, water pressure & manually opening the water line are the basics of the system; no electricity (nor fuel) is required to operate the system.

The drip irrigation lines slowly deliver water to the roots of the plants.Water isn’t wasted on surrounding soil (or weeds) and you lose a lot less to evaporation. The combination of mulch (be it straw, leaves, woodchips or black plastic) with the drip irrigation maximizes the effectiveness of the water. Using water efficiently doesn’t just cut back on wasted water. Keeping plant leaves dry also helps prevent diseases in the garden.

As we’ve mentioned repeatedly, it was a hot, dry summer. With such infrequent rains to fill the barrel, one barrel proved not to be enough during a dry season. We would like to implement more rain barrels throughout HollyHedge to capture rain from other roofs. It is important to note that the water collected is runoff that would otherwise be diverted off the property. Even with this recent summer, efficient water use helped this garden flourish.

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