rain barrels, water, garden
Photo by Gregory McNamee

Rainwater, like any crop, can be harvested and put to good use. In your survival garden, you’ll want to dig catchments and trenches to guide the rain to where it’s needed. You’ll also want to get hold of as many rain barrels as you can. Use 55 gallon drums, preferably plastic ones, that haven’t been used to store petroleum or chemicals. Or use rain barrels made for the purpose, with mesh screens to filter out twigs, leaves, and dirt. Rain barrels can be networked with hoses to store overflow.

Rain Barrel Placement

The first consideration in siting a rain barrel or water tank is where the water gathers on your roof. Usually this means the place where the most water falls, often the south-facing roof of a structure. Place the barrel below this spot, with a gutter or downspout directing water to it. Place it on a level, stable footing such as a cinder block or pavers. Cut away the downspout to feed the rainwater into the barrel at a height of about four feet off the ground.

Filter Debris

To fortify the screen, layer stones on top of the lid of your rain barrel to help filter out larger bits of debris. It’s important to keep the lid screwed on tight to keep animals from falling through. If mosquitoes or other insects become a problem, add a quarter-cup of household bleach to the water, which will quickly eliminate the problem. Under no circumstances should you or your animals drink rainwater if it can be avoided, so this bleach will not be a safety issue for anything other than those insects.

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