Rainwater harvesting is an ideal resource for the organic gardener. It's natural, self-replenishing and comes free of the various chemicals and preserving agents you might find in your tap water. Whether it’s saving money or helping the environment, here are some of the ways you can start benefiting from rainwater collection.
Therefore, this article will cover these key points:
- How to collect rainwater
- Benefits of rainwater collection to the garden
- Other areas rainwater collection can also be beneficial
How to Collect It
Before you begin using rainwater, you must first find a way to collect it. At its most simplest, any container can be used as a make-shift tank. So, even if you only have a small outdoor space to work with, or even just a roof, you can still collect rainwater. Of course, using a rainwater harvest system might be more useful on a wider scale. In any case, you can easily work with the space you have. As long as there's an open area with a clear view of the sky, you should have no problem gathering this vital resource.
Working with Your Weather
Similar to the harvesting itself, a successful organic gardener knows when to work with their local weather. In short, you can use rainwater collecting as a means to counter particularly harmful conditions. Store as much water as possible when there's a heavy downpour, for instance, and you can use this to keep your organic crops healthy during any subsequent dry spells. This method also works well in winter; after all, snow and ice both melt into water again. You can heat the snow back into water yourself, or just let it melt in its own time.
Plants Prefer Rainwater
One of the biggest benefits to using rainwater is that plants absolutely thrive on it. Rainwater has many natural additions that you simply won't find in tap water. Aside from the fact that rainwater doesn't contain the likes of chlorine and other preserving agents, it's what plants are naturally use to. Nature does just fine without a tap, so your garden won't suffer any consequences either. Don't forget, this also means that rain itself is a double benefit to you. Your plants will get the fresh rainwater while your tanks will fill up with reserve water for the dry periods.
It's Good For the Soil
Aside from the plants, soil is one area that any gardener needs to take care of. Fortunately, rainwater is just what the soil loves. It includes large helpings of nitrogen, as well as a low alkaline pH level. The former is vital because rainwater provides a natural source of nitrogen, often one of the key ingredients of most commercial fertilizers, allowing you to take care of the soil in your garden. While it's not everything your soil needs to stay in its best condition – you will still need calcium from bone meal and protective coverings such as compost and mulch – it does put you on the path to organic fertilization. As for the low pH levels, this also helps keep the soil healthy, whereas chemical-laden mains water may introduce high acidity that could change the conditions of your soil over time.
Cutting Down On Bills
While it may seem obvious, using rainwater does cut down on bills. You would be surprised how much water you need to keep crops healthy. Even in a small garden, a thriving vegetable patch takes regular amounts of water and this can add up over the month into one hefty fee. Rainwater, on the other hand, is free, allowing gardeners to grow their produce without worrying about money. This is also another reason why a large collection tank and water pump can make a wise investment, as you'll earn the money back in savings over the subsequent years.
Aside from the financial aspects, rainwater harvesting offers additional peace of mind. By using rainwater, you're not disrupting the natural cycle on the same scale as reservoirs and other water reserves. Since you're using the water for the garden, it's making its way back into the ground. Similarly, you're helping to remove your reliance on hard water and other forms of tap water. Storing water in large reservoirs and tanks prevents it from being where it naturally should be, so using rain water is a more organic and green way to collect the water you need.
Rainwater Harvesting Has Other Uses
Finally, you don't need to just limit yourself to the garden when it comes to using rainwater. Even without a filter, you can use it to wash dishes, windows and even the car. This is especially useful when washing things outside, as you don't need to worry about the run-off liquids contaminating the garden. Similarly, if you invest in a filter, you can use the water for your shower and other uses. Rainwater has plenty of advantages in the garden but, if you're willing to put a little more effort in, it can also provide much, much more.
As you can see, there are many advantages to collecting and using rainwater, especially for the humble organic gardener. Rainwater saves money, keeps plants healthy and allows you to have a healthy garden across the year. Why use tap water again when such a readily available resource is within your reach?
For a lot more great gardening tips, see our guide on 31 Ways to Make You an Organic Gardening Guru.