Rain Barrel Sprouting A Harvest
After watching tomato plants start in a seemingly positive direction before—as regular plants—producing grape-sized tomatoes, I don’t want to get too excited yet. But after watching my tomatoes, peppers and green beans sprouting a la “Jack in the Beanstalk” fashion less than two months after planting, I am quite optimistic.
I credit this impressive development to the rain barrel we had installed late last year when we finally admitted our leaking gutters needed replacement.
When the company gave us a bid on that and a couple other projects, the owner said for not that much more he could install a rain barrel. And, a small wooden platform on which it could sit to establish a gravity-fed system.
Free Water Source
I could say that I’m ecologically-minded and wanted to reduce water usage. And, cut down on the water feeding into our city’s antiquated and overburdened storm sewer system.
While none of that would be a lie, the bottom line is I envisioned a free (of sorts) source of water for our garden. Water that is much too expensive to run out of the hose for more than a few times early in planting season.
Since we soon unhooked the system to avoid water going into the 55-gallon barrel during winter freezes, we didn’t use it until this spring. What a pleasant surprise awaited us after I started going out several times a week to draw fresh water from our EarthMinded rain barrel.
I took a gallon per tomato plant, and about half a gallon for each pepper plant, plus smaller amounts of water on the onions and green beans. Only once did the barrel sputter, but after a healthy rain the following evening, I never had a shortage.
Within a couple weeks, two tomatoes popped out of the “early girl” plant that I selected as one of the half dozen we purchased. Not long after, so did a bell pepper and a couple banana peppers, which a month after Memorial Day planting looked big enough to pick (although I held off).
Meanwhile, in late June the summer squash looked like a modern version of The Monster that Ate Manhattan, and by the Fourth of July we had picked the first plant. Had I known it needed such a huge space, I would have reserved its own corner—or maybe dug up a few more feet of the yard.
One reason for my excitement is the rather modest production I’ve had most of the past eight years from our garden spaces.
This, even after gradually working in a mixture of humus and manure into the main bed, only to see hardly any improvement. I also gave up on another corner of the backyard when it became apparent that that particular spot just didn’t get enough sunlight to grow anything.
So, to see my tomatoes already nearing the top of the baskets I purchased a couple years ago puts an amateur like me into orbit.
Compost to Come
Equally exciting is the fact that, due to our crowded schedule, we have yet to turn and inspect the compost pile we started last fall. As a newcomer to the composting craze, I realize I may end up with little more than a smelly mess—at which point that experiment will cease.
Whether our composting venture proves a success or a failure, though, the rainwater from our barrel will keep coming. I only hope the final yield is as promising as the start.