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Posts Tagged ‘rain barrel’

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There are definite signs of the change of season around here. The birds are starting to pair up, the air is warmer, and buds are beginning to swell.

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Heck, I might even have daffodils to pick next week!

The Periwinkle is already beginning to boast a few flowers, and crocuses are in full swing (all except mine, which are woeful), and the Camellia has a few pink blooms open. I noted the honeysuckle is leafing out, too.

Last week I even started some seeds: two kinds of sunflowers and one variety of heirloom tomatoes.

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The sunflowers wasted no time in sprouting upward and today I noticed that the tomato plants are making a brave attempt to sprout.

I decided to start the sunflowers this way because the last two years have been a bust for me. In 2011, my sunflowers started but stunted. In 2012, not a single sunflower seed planted out-of-doors bothered to sprout. I don’t know if the chickadees ate the seeds as soon as I sowed them, or is something else came along and nipped the fragile sprouts, but I had no sunflowers last summer.

My husband never got the vegetable garden sorted out last summer and the only tomato plant we had was a volunteer that sprouted up by the compost bin. It did eventually produce some fruit, but that corner of the yard is only full sun for two months out of the summer and by September – when tomatoes need the sun the most – it is a shade garden. I thought if I had some nice tomato plants started this year, I could work them into my full-sun flower beds and maybe – just maybe – I would have some tomatoes by the season’s end.

Of course, the veggie garden may be a “go” this year, but I’m not holding my breath. We get distracted and I am certainly not going to be the one to haul out the rototiller and attempt to turn all that soil! Sure, I probably could, but my husband can be territorial. So I will leave that to him, and if he gets it done or not will be his decision. But I will incorporate veggies in and out of my flowers, just in case.

My garden desperately wanted me to go around and finish dead-heading all the flowering plants that faded after the rainy season started, so I worked on that today. I re-staked my grapevine win hopes that I will get some grapes this year. This is year number 3 and I have it pruned down to the strongest vine. Crossing my fingers on that one.

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This was my first project of the day: getting the rain barrels set up. I have two. One is permanently plumbed into the drain for the rain gutters. It has an on/off switch and all I did was open the flange so the water from the rain gutters will now be diverted into the rain barrel. The second barrel is free standing.

First, I replaced the paving stones I had with regular cinder blocks, and made the ground a lot more level than it was last year. Then I removed a 4′ section of the rain gutter drain (when we had the new rain gutters installed, I made them set this pipe up for me so I could remove that 4′ section every March 1 and replace it every October 1 with little hassle).

I found a rain barrel pump that I hope to purchase before watering season begins. The biggest problem with the rain barrels is there is no water pressure! The only downside to the solar pump is that the pictured rain barrel is in a very shaded location. The other barrel is in a sunny location. But if it is portable enough, I can probably make it work here, too. That would be beyond awesome.

That was pretty much all the prep work I did, other than to peruse garden catalogs and dream of new plants.

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Harvey was quite bored with the whole thing. “Walk! Walk! Food! Walk! Food!” He’s such a “Dug”.

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Don talked me into purchasing new rain gutters for the house this autumn. We really needed new ones: the old ones were cheap, angled wrong, leaked, and didn’t cover all of the eaves.

Of course buying something like rain gutters involves sales men (because you didn’t really think Don was going to install gutters, did you?) and sales men always involve sales pitches. I pretty much tossed this back at Don and told him to deal with the salesmen and the sales pitch because I really didn’t want to. For one thing, this whole year has left me stressed out and tired. And for another, I just don’t like pushy salesmen.

And, of course, I came home one night after a miserable commute after and intense day at work and there are salesmen in my house looking all chipper and relaxed and I just wanted to eat dinner and go to bed. I don’t think I was very nice. They left their sales pitch and said they’d call back in a couple weeks.

Well, we decided to buy the rain gutters from LeafGuard. Don promised me they could work around my existing rain barrel. He said something about they were going to throw in a second rain barrel but he never could find the piece of paper that was written on. So when the laborers came to install our new gutters, a second rain barrel wasn’t on my radar.

The young men who came to install the gutters were very nice men and I actually liked them. This is good because Don vacated the premises on the day of installation and left the final inspection to me. (In his defense, he already had plans.)

The installers took pains to set up my rain barrel so that I can retire it for the winter and reinstall it in the summer. If that sounds counter-intuitive, it really isn’t. Yes, it rains nearly all winter here but it also can freeze. The last thing I want is to have water in my rain barrel and have that water freeze. I paid $45 for that barrel from Systern Rain Barrels. The manual says it should be out under the down spout from March-October and in storage October-March.

I inspected the gutters and the installers left. Then it rained and we discovered they’d installed one downspout incorrectly. Don (bless his heart because he just hates to make phone calls and I was absolutely overwhelmed with work and life) followed through and got them back out here. The young man who headed up the crew apologized and fixed the problem (said he had a trainee on the job but it was his fault for not noticing). I may not have liked the salesmen (probably no fault of theirs; its just they’re in hard-sell mode) but I certainly liked the laborers.

Don was disappointed that a second rain barrel did not come with the install, but he still couldn’t find the slip of paper with that quote on it and I was quite happy with the gutters.

Until tonight.

You saw that coming, right?

I came home from work and started to open the front door when I noticed something black at the end of the house, under the big rhododendron. I peered closer and thought that’s a rain barrel!

I asked Don if he knew we had a second rain barrel. He didn’t believe me and had to go out and look for himself.

Yes, LeafGuard came out sometime today when we were at work and installed their rain barrel as verbally promised when Don originally spoke with the salesmen! Didn’t say a word to us, just set it up and left it.

It’s really cool. Better than the other barrel in that this new one has a valve built into the downspout that you can turn so that all the rain water goes down the spout or it goes into the barrel. You don’t have to disconnect it during the winter – you just turn the valve! And they set it up so that it is not currently collecting rain water. (The blocks were already in place because I was in the process of moving my original barrel to the other side of the house – so glad I left them in place!!)

I’m pretty jazzed: I now have two rain barrels! And I can sing my mom’s favorite rainy day song to go with the barrels. (I miss my mom now!)

 

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May I present you with a few photos of my garden? In which we contemplate the hope that Spring really has sprung.

The only anemone that survived Murphy, this little blue beauty comes up early every Spring and hangs out until the weather gets too warm for it. It’s a true Willamette Valley Oregonian: seventy degrees is too hot for it.

Until I met this beauty, I though currants were some bland berry that you picked in the summertime to make tasty jelly. The wild flowering currant (ribes sanguineum) grows wild in the Willamette Valley and is one of my favorite flowering shrubs. No berries for jelly, but the early blooms make up for that.

Oregon Grape (Berberis aquifolium). When I was a little girl, my dad told me this was “wolf’s bane” and would keep werewolves away. I believed him. I hope it keeps vampires at bay, too. At least the Twillight sort of vampires. I’m not into creepy, stalking, glittery vampires.

Somewhere I have a recipe for making jelly from the very sharp-tasting berries of the Oregon Grape: not terribly palatable fresh-picked, they make a very tasty jelly.

Rather than search for the recipe, I usually let the little birds eat the berries.

And the last true sign of Spring is this: my rain barrel is in place, ready to catch all those April Showers so I can water my front yard flower beds with recycled water. I’m so excited about getting the rain barrel set up.

Reminds me of a song my mom used to sing to us kids when it was rainy and depressing out:

Say, say, oh playmate,
Come out and play with me
And bring your dollies three
Climb up my apple tree

Shout down my rain barrel
Slide down my cellar door
And we’ll be jolly friends
Forever more more more more more

Say, say, oh playmate
I cannot play with you
My dolly’s got the flu
Boo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo

Ain’t got no rain barrel
Ain’t got no cellar door
But we’ll be jolly friends
Forever more more more more more

I had no idea what a rain barrel was but my mom knew what one was and the song always made me feel hopeful about the dreary days of Spring: Summer is coming.

Some day.

 

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