If you cannot use a solar cell panel then use a rainwater butt
Rainwater can be used in the greenhouse, in the garden, in the washing machine and for toilet flush.
When it is raining during the summer, it is better to utilise the opportunity for free water from the sky than grumbling over the large amount of rain that you cannot do anything about.
Lulu Jacobsen has made a drawing that illustrates the different opportunities to utilize the rainwater.
Drawing: Lulu Jacobsen
Rainwater can be used in a washing machine or as a toilet flush, or even in the garden for irrigation. One toilet flush cost approximately one shilling, so if you are a family of four who flushes a couple of times every day it mounts up. A wash is approximately 24 pennies so you can also save some there. A fully equipped rainwater butt of 5000 litres is around 4.800 pounds, so you can calculate if it pays for your family. For most families, the cost of a rainwater butt is recovered within 8 years.
Be careful with the tomatoes
In the garden, you can easily use a couple of thousands of litres when irrigating. Here a rainwater butt would benefit a lot. In the greenhouse, it is almost a must. Be careful if only irrigating tomatoes with rainwater as they can get bottom end rot. If your tomatoes have bottom end rot the solution is to irrigate with tap water every other time. The problem is worse when growing in a closed system rather than directly into the ground.
A rain garden is easy to make. It is a depression in the garden where water will slope off to. You can put a rubber cloth in the bottom to detain the water and then decorate with stones and plants.
Photo: Grøn Kommunikation
Beauty the garden with a rain garden
In principle, a rain garden is a depression in the garden which can detain rainwater and let it slowly soak into the ground. Lulu Jacobsen has for many years worked with rainwater issues in Denmark. She suggests, either planting grass, flowers or bushes in the rain garden or fill the depression with beautiful stones or other water vapour permeable materials.
It is a good idea to combine the rain garden with a fascine or a spillway from a sewer, so excess water can slope off. A fascine is a solution in itself, but it is not as beautiful as a rain garden. A fascine is a cavern under the ground which can collect water and slowly let it soak into the ground.
Flowers on the roof
As another rainwater solution, Lulu Jacobsen suggests laying a flowering roof on the house, garage or shed.
Plant roofs with moss, different kinds of stonecrop, grass or other beautiful plants absorb half of the rain, says Lulu Jacobsen.
A plant roof lasts for approximately 50 years and is practically maintenance-free. Many manufacturers offer complete mats with short drought-tolerant plants that can be put directly on the roof.
A rainwater barrel is the simplest way to collect rain and if differently not a bad choice either. You can easily irrigate your greenhouse plants as it is filled continuously.
Photo: Grøn Kommunikation
You can also collect water in a barrel or a bigger tank. The rainwater can be used to irrigate the garden, wash the car or similar, then you avoid using expensive tap water.
Om Lars Lund
Danish horticulturist and journalist
Lars Lund has for many years engaged in the garden and greenhouse. Lars has published many books about greenhouses, and he has participated in many Danish horticultural TV shows. He is a walking garden encyclopaedia, and he has answers for most basic cultivation questions – also the more ambitious ones.