Friday, July 15, 2022

The Day After (the rainstorm)

After a joyous night celebrating our new cisterns capturing the rain,  I was tempted to sleep in the next morning.  After all, the garden had been watered by the rain... But there was the issue of the water overflowing from a full tank.

How could that happen?  Maybe because I concentrated on using up the water in the smaller tanks first because they fill up the fastest. I should have alternated using the water in all of the tanks. Doh! Fortunately, I had previously removed some bricks that framed our patio (that had been a mosquito haven) so that water would flow into our Mexican Honeysuckle in the back. So the overflow water wasn't a total waste. 

The next day after the rain...

One of my main rainwater harvesting rules is to use up the rain before it can overflow during the next storm. And Google says there's a good chance it will rain this afternoon! My big dilemma was where to put the water since the yard had already been watered by the previous night's storm.  I know...I know... That's a good problem to have! Now I just need to use up some of that water! 

I checked the soil by the sunchokes under the roof since the rain goes over them.  As I suspected the ground was dry. So I gave them their usual 2 1/2 watering cans of water. But this time they got the benefit of nutritious rainwater!

Then I checked the desert plants on the high end of the basin. The agave looked a little yellow, so I gave it a little bit of rainwater. That gave me the idea to deep water the curry plants and fig tree that are on mounds by the greywater basin. While I had watered the mulch around the plants to maintain the microbes in the soil, I hadn't deep watered them this week. Since I usually use city water on these trees, there was probably a build up of calcium under the ground. So it was a good time to rinse it out with two buckets of rainwater!

5 gallon buckets with two small holes on the bottom let the water out slowly

I poured pasta water on the ground under the fig to build the soil AFTER I watered it, so it wouldn't be flushed away.  (Remember - no salt while cooking pasta.)

After the brutal drought in June, I am keenly aware that every drop counts. As I was filling up the watering can, I noticed the puddle of water that leaked from the hose when I put it on the ground. So now I put the hose into a jar to collect every drop.

Next I checked to see how much water had sunk into the garden. The branches of the palo verde blocked some rain from getting through (and also prevented my soil from being washed away.) So I used half the water I usually use in the garden. 

While I was there, I built up more dirt around the bird netting cages so the pests couldn't get in. 

Then I checked to see if the compost pit needed covering to prevent it from getting over saturated (and becoming anaerobic) if it rained later that afternoon.  The pile had actually gotten just the right amount of rain! Later, when a squirrel dug a hole in the compost, I discovered some nice mycelium growing in the compost! And further investigation showed that the worms (I had previously added to the pile) were multiplying! Yay! 

While I was out there I went ahead and...

Checked for standing water to prevent mosquitoes from laying their eggs in it.

Dumped out the water on this lid... 

Replaced the birdbath water with fresh to prevent mosquitoes (dumping the old on a nearby plant). 

Removed debris in the channel to the Mexican Honeysuckle. 

Removed any eucalyptus bark from the basin and the leaves from the water barrel filter.  

(We had already checked the gutters after the first big downpour and removed some branches and leaves that were blocking the flow to our downspouts and cisterns).

It's not always easy to get up early, but I always enjoy the sweet morning air and being in my garden. Today, when I was out watering, I spotted two baby squirrels wrestling in the greywater basin. So cute!  No wonder I putter around doing all these little tasks! And while it can be a challenge figuring out how much rainwater to use vs. how much to keep in the cisterns for dryer times, I am so grateful to have that rainwater to nourish my trees and little garden.


  1. Super inspiring!

  2. good for you! This is wonderful.

  3. You work so hard and enjoy so much but I think it is time for a nap. You are entitled.

  4. You have been one busy person and so happy to do all those things -- good for you. If there were more like you we wouldn't be facing climate change like we are now.

  5. You are a good environmentalist.

  6. What a great post, and you are a hard worker! Keep it up!

  7. A great way to enjoy lifes little blessings

  8. We desperately need more water conscious people like you!

  9. So refreshing!
    - Stuart

  10. Thanks for sharing your project. It looks like a good investment plus the added benefit of knowing you're making wise use of water!