Thursday, June 6, 2024

Appreciating our Cisterns During this Dry Spell

It is no secret that my favorite rainwater harvesting feature is catchment basins. They can sink in more water than our largest cistern can hold while nourishing the soil and providing food and shelter for birds and other desert critters. But I have to admit that during this long dry patch, (our last wet day was the hail storm on April 1st) I am extremely grateful to have several cisterns to keep my new plants and moringa alive in this extreme heat. (As I write this, there is a heat warning in effect.) 

Every morning before the temperature reaches 80 degrees (the temperature when plants stop taking in water), I am outside watering my baby plants with my watering can filled with rainwater from our cisterns. I have already emptied one slimline cistern and the other one is nearly empty.

Fortunately, I still have water in our biggest cistern in the backyard, but that requires me carrying it through the house. (See pic at the top of the page.)

I get water from the big cistern to daily water the newly planted hibiscus in the greywater basin and to deep water our heritage, desert adapted pomegranate tree, the hibiscus and two curry plants. We're excited that the pomegranate finally grew big enough to support some fruit this year! 

5 gallon buckets with 2 holes in them deep water pomegranate and hibiscus 

We also have a medium cistern by the garden that gets water off of our kind neighbor's huge roof. The few plants I have in my veggie garden only require one watering can a day to keep them going. (I usually have more planted there but I didn't get around to it with my broken wrist.) 

A few years ago, I asked someone at Watershed Management Group if there was any point in putting in rainwater harvesting cisterns when we are getting less and less rain. They replied that you need even more cisterns to get you through the dry months. I have to say I am absolutely a convert now. We are so grateful to have gutters that direct the water from our roof into our rainwater harvesting cisterns to get us through this dry spell and heat wave. Thanks to the cisterns, we haven't had to use any city water in our yard so far this year. 

If you want to try out rainwater harvesting you can start with a little 55 gallon water barrel for a reasonable price.  Here is our first one that we used to water a few veggies. Dan directed a downspout from the gutter into the blue barrel below.

To find out how much water you can harvest at home, try out this simple water budget calculator from Watershed Management Group.

Learn more at Watershed Management Group's Rainwater Harvesting Rebate Classes:

Read another cistern story:

Racing to get our cisterns installed before the monsoon storms

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