Jan at Thanks For Today is hosting an Earth Day giveaway. Earth Day happens officially April 22, 2010. You can read more about it at the website, including some history of Earth Day which I found interesting. For instance the first Earth Day occurred in 1970 and the EPA issued its first permit limiting a factory's polluted discharge into waterways the year I graduated from high school (I'll let you look up that ancient date). Amazing.
One of the requirements is to write a post about what you do in your yard/garden to help the world stay 'green'. This post provides a link to all the participating bloggers. (also see the link on the sidebar)
Some of the things Kim and I have done in our small way to help out:
1. In the spring of 2002, cooperating with our next door neighbors, we ripped out all the sod in both front lawns and went xeric. Now we water our front garden about once per month during the summer as opposed to continually watering in an attempt to maintain a green lawn on a slope. We planted a mix of xeric-happy plants and love the result.
Kim is a composting maniac. And I love him for it. His composting piles continue to be enlarged by him as he gathers more and more materials from our garden, house and everywhere else, to put to use in his three large compost areas.
His smaller version;
3. We attempt to grow some of our own veggies;
4. Of course we don't use any pesticides in our garden.
But we do have...
5. Chickens as natural bug killers, fertilizers and egg layers. (Also as pets.)
6. Speaking of Kim he is also a maniac at recycling. Don't even think about throwing away an empty toilet paper core at our house!
7. We also love feeding the birds, with at least three winter time feeders and more when summer arrives. Our pond is also very popular with all feathered varieties.
8. All the light bulbs in our house have been replaced with compact fluorescents.
9. We grow most of our annuals and veggies from seed.
Of course it wouldn't be a giveaway without prizes, right?
Some prizes in the contest include garden gloves, hand tools, GreenCure Fungicide, Earth-friendly (stainless steel) water bottle by Hip Mountain Momma, and a donation by WomensWork. (See Jan's blog for all the details.)
The grand prize is a rain barrel from Fiskars.
Ironically, two years ago I was doing a post on some window shopping when I asked this question concerning rain barrels:
".... are these actually beneficial? ..... Our rain comes in the spring and fall. That's it. We receive almost no, none, nada rain during our long hot summers which is when we desperately need it. So I would need to literally line my house with these things. Not really practical. And if we lived, say in Western Oregon or somewhere where they receive plenty of rainfall, then why the need? I'm sure someone out there has the answer. Please enlighten me."
Well, open mouth and insert foot. Frank Oliver from Gardener's Supply Company was only too happy to respond:
"Rain barrel water has no additives (like chlorine, which could be present in town water supplies), so the plants like it. Since rain barrels are naturally situated near houses, they can supplement water requirements for border plantings and porch, patio, & deck containers. And admittedly, not many people are able to harvest their total in-ground garden watering needs using rain barrels.
Say, did you know that using self-watering containers to grow flowers/vegetables can reduce plant water requirements up to 70% during the hot summer months!!!!!! A recent study conducted by University of Arizona and their cooperative extension showed that commercial nurseries could save up to 70% water usage by using capillary mat watering versus traditional overhead irrigation systems. Another avenue to consider if water is a precious resource during the hottest months of the year.
Hope this provides a useful counterpoint to the question, 'Why have a rain barrel where it doesn't rain much'?"
According to the Fiskars website:
"...if you have a 500 square foot roof section feeding a downspout, it will take about two tenths of an inch of rain to fill a 52 gallon barrel. A roof area of only 1000 square feet can provide approximately 600 gallons of water during a one inch rainfall."
Wow. I was convinced long ago and have been annoying Kim since to consider purchasing one of these systems.
Here is where I would place mine....
....right in the front of our house where I could use the gathered water for our front xeric garden and also for the containers with which I decorate the front porch.
I would gladly eat my words to win this wonderful prize.