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When is it safe to start filling my rain barrel?

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When is it safe to start filling my rain barrel?

Post  rob.emenaker on 3/10/2010, 8:20 pm

I just got a rain barrel and I am curious when it is safe to start filling it from my gutter. I don't want to start filling it and it freeze one night and crack it. My last frost date here in Indiana is April 22nd so maybe it's just safe to wait. It was 72 here today. Stupid Indiana weather Smile
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Re: When is it safe to start filling my rain barrel?

Post  mckr3441 on 3/10/2010, 9:48 pm

You sure don't want it to freeze and break the barrel! I've haven't used a rain barrel yet. Sure would like to, though.

This is no expert or from-experience thought but if the barrel is not full to the top it should not expand out if it freezes. Right? or not. And, if it is full to the top it would take a darn long cold snap to freeze it all!

Just thinking off the top of my head. Hope someone here can give you more factual info. Did it say anything about that in the printed material that came with the barrel?

Best of luck.
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Re: When is it safe to start filling my rain barrel?

Post  boffer on 3/10/2010, 10:19 pm

Hi,

What if you work backwards. When do you think you'll need to water for the first time? Work back from there. A 500 sq ft section of roof that feeds a 55 gal barrel will overflow it real fast if you get a half inch of rain.

If you want to do the math, there's 7.5 gallons per cubic foot.
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rain barrel

Post  choksaw on 3/11/2010, 12:38 am

if it was a purchased rain barrel then it should have an over flow port near the top so that the barrel itself doesnt over flow out the top if not its very simple to make your own over flow port borrow or buy a whole saw for your drill (if you dont alredy have 1) about 2 inchs dwon the side of the barrel from the top drill a 1/2" sized hole home depot and lowes in the plumbing dept will have pvp pipe that is threaded get a couple of couplers and some pvc cement while your at it thread 1 of the couplers on backwards for the outside and insert it into the hole smather some pvc cement where the coupler meets the outside of the barrel now put the other coupler on the right way smather is with pvc cement and screw it all the way in til you have a nice firm seating and the pvc cement starts to ozze out the sides of the couplers and viola you have just made an overflow vent for your rain barrel at this point i would also like to suggest attaching a piece of old garden hose to vent til it is laying on the ground otherwise if it does over flow and start running out your vent it will start to errode the ground around the barrel from the gravity pull of the water to the ground.

the worst thing that can happen to your rain barrel is the gritty stuff from the shingles getting in to the barrel but i have a simple idea that thwarts that problem as well get an old pair of panty hose/nylons etc. slip it over the end of the spout that goes into the barrel and secure them with zip ties duct tape wire anything handy and now you have an in expensive filter the water will seep through the panyhose and all the debris will be caught inside. hope some of this helps
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Re: When is it safe to start filling my rain barrel?

Post  rob.emenaker on 3/11/2010, 8:26 am

It's still getting down to about 37 or so at night here, but I can't imagine it would get cold enough to hard freeze that much water in one night. My roof is big enough to fill that sucker in one decent rain for sure and it already has overflow protection built-in so I am good there. I guess I don't really need it yet anyway since my seedlings are still so small. I am just anxious to get it going Smile
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Re: When is it safe to start filling my rain barrel?

Post  martha on 3/11/2010, 12:42 pm

Not me. I'm not impatient. Nope.







(please don't read my other posts. I am going to go to hell for lying!)
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Re: When is it safe to start filling my rain barrel?

Post  boffer on 3/11/2010, 12:50 pm

I can see Martha now, standing in front of the minister, waiting to get married.

"C'mon, c'mon, let's get this done, I have stuff to do in the garden!"
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Re: When is it safe to start filling my rain barrel?

Post  martha on 3/11/2010, 1:11 pm

Hey, were you there???? (I did in fact get married in my mother-in-law's garden!)
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watering

Post  carolintexas on 3/12/2010, 1:27 am

In the book it says you are suppose to hand water if possible with sun warmed water...if I have buckets of water sitting around waiting to get warm will I have swarms of mosquitos?

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Re: When is it safe to start filling my rain barrel?

Post  LaFee on 3/12/2010, 3:47 am

CarolinTexas -- Get yourself a dark-colored bucket -- it will absorb more than enough heat to warm the water in a few hours.

If you're going to use something to filter out the roof grit, make absolutely sure that you check it and empty it regularly. The last thing you need to do is cause a problem with your gutters (or worse yet, your roof!) because of backed-up water building up behind a filter full of leaves and dirt and god-knows-what-else.

And just something to consider for those capturing water from the roof...if you've got a roof that you've coated with something -- aluminum reflective coating, asphalt roof sealer, etc. -- it's probably best to not dump it on your SFG -- give the coatings time to completely cure out (6-8 months). They have all kinds of nasties that take a while to fully cure out of the coating - aluminum paste, asphalt, mineral spirits, anti-moss and anti-fungal agents for elastomeric (white) coatings, etc -- and using water running off of a fresh roof coating is a pretty good way to dump a lot of chemicals on your veggies that you probably don't really want there. Shingle roofs (over a year old), tile roofs, metal or fibreglass -- not a problem -- older coated roofs will still leach some stuff, but the concentrations are pretty low after the first full rotation of seasons.

I spent ten years in the roofing industry....

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mosquitos

Post  choksaw on 3/12/2010, 3:23 pm

@carolintexas wrote:In the book it says you are suppose to hand water if possible with sun warmed water...if I have buckets of water sitting around waiting to get warm will I have swarms of mosquitos?

it is possable that you may get some mosqiutos in your water if left standing too long but remeber they only lay thier eggs in the surface of the water and ive seen in the gardening centers down here they have little discs that you can place in the barrel/bucket that floats around and kills the larva not sure if it will harm the plants or not. A home remedy that i know is safe for plants is to add some vegtable oil or canola water to the barrel/bucket the oil will float to the surface and the mosquitos will not be able to lay thier eggs.
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Re: When is it safe to start filling my rain barrel?

Post  happyfrog on 3/12/2010, 4:10 pm

what a great thread!! i had found some plans online to build a rain barrel but i just haven't gotten around to it.

as for freezing water, i would think very unlikely at this point because it would have to be very cold in order to freeze a body of water

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thoughts on water

Post  LaFee on 3/12/2010, 4:19 pm

For those in the Sunbelt (Texas, Florida, AZ -- Choksaw, I used to be a neighbor - in south Hillsborough -- GO BULLS) -- two thoughts:

First off -- remember that any captured rainwater is going to be pretty close to ambient temperature before you ever put it in a bucket to warm -- that's gonna be 85-90 degrees (or more!) by July. If your catch barrel is dark colored, it could be quite a bit more than that due to the radiant heating, so if anything, you need to be sure you're not going to boil your plants when you water.

Second -- if you have to use water from the tap for whatever reason, keep in mind that (especially in Florida!) the municipal water lines run 18-24 inches below the surface -- if that much. The water coming out of your tap isn't going to be cool enough to shock your plants any time soon...so draw a bucket in the morning, and by afternoon you'll have to make sure it's not too warm.

From the way I read things, Mel doesn't expect you to have buckets sitting around long enough to grow skeeters -- if you use a bucket of water a day, the mosquitos won't have a chance to hatch that fast...

Now...the little mosquito floater things that Choksaw is talking about are going to be necessary to keep your rain barrels from growing critters...but a water bucket shouldn't be a problem.

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Re: When is it safe to start filling my rain barrel?

Post  Patty from Yorktown on 3/13/2010, 8:10 am

Hi,
I have a homemade rain barrel. I love it. It is a mosquito breading ground. The little disks do not work, if you are trying to keep your garden organic. I do not worry about the bugs, as our yard is very close to protected wet lands. That is a polite term for swamp. Your can also use a few drops of dawn dish soap or drain your barrel once a week. Hope this helps.

Patty from Yorktown
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Re: When is it safe to start filling my rain barrel?

Post  LaFee on 3/13/2010, 8:57 am

There are some of the mosquito-control floaters that are organic -- they actually contain bacteria that kill the larvae. Check around -- they're out there.

Some folks put fish in their barrels, too -- but I don't know how well that would work in the South.

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Re: When is it safe to start filling my rain barrel?

Post  camprn on 4/11/2010, 8:43 am

@happyfrog wrote:what a great thread!! i had found some plans online to build a rain barrel but i just haven't gotten around to it.

as for freezing water, i would think very unlikely at this point because it would have to be very cold in order to freeze a body of water
Hey could you tell me about or point me in the direction of plans to build a rain barrel.

I have seen collapsable rain barrels in the big orange box store. Do any of you have experience with them?
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Re: When is it safe to start filling my rain barrel?

Post  timwardell on 4/11/2010, 9:46 am

@choksaw wrote:
it is possable that you may get some mosqiutos in your water if left standing too long but remeber they only lay thier eggs in the surface of the water and ive seen in the gardening centers down here they have little discs that you can place in the barrel/bucket that floats around and kills the larva not sure if it will harm the plants or not. A home remedy that i know is safe for plants is to add some vegtable oil or canola water to the barrel/bucket the oil will float to the surface and the mosquitos will not be able to lay thier eggs.
Mosquito dunks as they are called typically contain BT and are safe for fish and plants. I've been a water gardener for 15 years and have used them many times in new goldfish ponds because you need to wait 1-2 weeks from the time you fill the pond with city tap water until you add fish. During that time - if you have any stagnant areas in the pond where the water isn't moving - mosquitos will lay eggs. Once the fish are in the pond however, they eat every mosquito egg as soon as it hits the water. Especially if you have a few gambusia (mosquito fish). The Dunks do not harm the fish nor the aquatic plants.
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Re: When is it safe to start filling my rain barrel?

Post  timwardell on 4/11/2010, 9:47 am

BTW, there are TONS of videos on how to make and install rain barrels on YouTube.
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Re: When is it safe to start filling my rain barrel?

Post  nancy on 4/11/2010, 10:11 am

I bought my rainbarrel through craigslist. It held fruit cocktail in it's past life. It is on my backporch where it gets full sun all day. The water in there is pleasantly warm already and by August will be too hot to house a fish. I never emptied it before winter and Lord knows we had us some snow in February. It has been at or very near capacity all year. Over the winter, since I didn't empty it, I just took the lid off. I did indeed have a 55-gallon icicle, but since the ice could go up, it never cracked the barrel. This year I think I want to paint it so it doesn't stand out so much. Not that I don't like blue...
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Re: When is it safe to start filling my rain barrel?

Post  timwardell on 4/11/2010, 8:58 pm

I installed a rain barrel today. I'd been contemplating it for some time but this thread finally convinced me to go ahead and do it. I'd like to say I got a used barrel on freecycle or craig's list or repurposed a container of some kind, but I was lazy and had a LOT of other items on my to-do list so I bought one at Home Depot. Cutting the drain spout was no easy task - especially since the blades on BOTH my reciprocating saw and my hacksaw were less than sharp. Nonetheless I got it done. It's in place, looks nice, and I'll be able to supplement my sprinkler/soaker hose system with rain water this year. Yipee. Very Happy
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Re: When is it safe to start filling my rain barrel?

Post  bullfrogbabe on 4/11/2010, 9:13 pm

Use screened tops on rain barrels, they keep out debris and mosquitoes.
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Rain Barrel Care

Post  PransomeHince on 4/19/2010, 10:02 am

As an old, emphasis on old, rain barrel maker - user for over 20 years, I've got a bit of advice for you youngens. #1 Don't buy, make. Catch the web-site for King County WA. http://www.kingcounty.gov/environment/stewardship/nw-yard-and-garden/rain-barrels.aspx, which gives a skillion of sources. You can paint and decorate to your, or your wife's wishes and desires. #2 - skeeters and roof gravel can be deterred by a bit of window screening either screwed, preferred, or glued on the top will keep not only the beasties, but the gravel, leaves, tree seedlings, and miskellaneous thingy's out. Overflow is built into the plans. When a heavy rain is expected, I lead a overflow hose out to my garden for additional watering. #3 as for other thingys beng washed off an old roof - including bird guano - just think of it as additonal fertilizer for the garden. Anyhow where did manure come from in the first place, and the second place also.
Well, sorry, I can't post a pic. I'm too incompetent to figger that stuff out. Maybe some day.

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Re: When is it safe to start filling my rain barrel?

Post  boffer on 4/19/2010, 11:09 am

Thanks for the info. I think experience is the best teacher in the gardening world.

We do appreciate pictures on the forum and would like to see yours if you have some.

Here's the way to do it:

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/how-to-f33/
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Re: When is it safe to start filling my rain barrel?

Post  Mirjam on 4/19/2010, 12:38 pm

Hi, our last frost date is also around april 20, and my rainbarrel has been filled a few weeks ago. We've had some frost at nights, but not enough to freeze a larger amount of water. I wonder however, are you gonna fill it yourself, or just connect it, and let it fill itself when it rains? As long as you don't fill it to the top, it won't break from a little frost.
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Re: When is it safe to start filling my rain barrel?

Post  pattipan on 4/19/2010, 1:03 pm

I ordered a rain barrel today from Ace Hardware and had it shipped to the store (DH said to order it, since he would be the one would have to make it!). Ace is just a short stroll down the street for us to pick it up. Here's the one I got (Suncast 50 gal):

Patti
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