As the March 29 snowfall melts, the rain barrel fills up for later. Come July when the cucumbers are thirsty, I won't have to haul water out to the alley. A length of chain channels water from the gutter to the barrel opening.
I'm a big fan of rain barrels. Some years back when I was feeling flush, I bought an 80-gallon commercial model, plus an overpriced downspout diverter gizmo from Real Goods catalog, and installed it at my York Neighborhood house. It did yeoman duty there, helping me establish new plants in the desert conditions under the juniper tree.
At my current house I have that one for the front yard, and a do-it-yourself model in the alley. The 40-gallon alley barrel was free from the Trans Ocean surimi plant on Orchard Street. They kindly steered us toward the ones that had held dextrose, rather than the ones that reeked of fish. A bit of RE Store gutter, a few fittings from Hardware Sales, and we're in business. My house has only one hose bib and it's inconveniently located, so the barrels save me hassle as well as water. A couple years ago on a local sustainability tour, I saw a smaller rain barrel mounted on a handcart so it can go where the need is greatest. That seems like an excellent idea too.
If you would like a rain barrel of your very own, there's a workshop Saturday April 19, 10 a.m. to noon at the Bellingham RE Store. Pre-registration is required by contacting Anitra Accetturo at 778-7732 or AAccetturo@cob.org
A second workshop will be held in May--date to be announced later.