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What is rainwater collection?
Rainwater collection is an alternative water supply approach that captures, diverts and stores rainwater for later use. It can help alleviate the demands of existing freshwater supplies, such as a well. There are a variety of methods available for rainwater harvesting, but they are essentially comprised of a catchment surface, a conveyance system, and storage and distribution.
Your system can work well, even if it is as basic as a collection barrel. In fact, starting with a simple storage barrel may be a good way to get your ‘toes wet’ so to speak. You will need rain gutters and a downspout, to move the rainwater from the roof top collection area into your barrel, but not much else besides the actual barrel. Many garden centers, and online garden stores have ready-made rainwater collection barrels for sale. They usually come with a screened lid, to keep debris out of your rainwater, and a spigot to attach a hose.
Collecting rainwater is beneficial for two main reasons; it can save you money on water bills, and conserve our most precious resource, water. Every drop of drinking water we can save, by utilizing free rainwater, is helpful to everyone living in our communities. Rainwater is also healthier for our plants, as it is free from the salts, minerals and chlorine used to treat tap water for public use.
Harvesting rainwater can also help reduce the demand for groundwater, and the high costs, and environmental impacts of having to drill for water. Collecting rainwater can also help prevent erosion from extreme rain events causing heavy run-off onto lawns and beds. Please remember that rainwater is not pure, and not suitable for drinking, cooking or bathing. Rain can wash contaminants into your catchment area, such as bird poop, from the roof. Without being properly treated, rainwater is primarily used for irrigation, watering your garden and potted plants. Some localities may have their own regulations concerning rainwater collection, please check with your municipality.
You can estimate how much water you may be able to harvest using this equation: Catchment area (roof size in square feet) x Monthly rainfall (inches) x Conversion factor (0.62) x Collection factor (75%-90% to account for losses in the system) For example, according to NOAA’s Climate Report, the average monthly rainfall for the contiguous United States was just under 3 inches in 2019. Using this number and a 75% collection factor, the total water catchment for a 1,000-square-foot roof would be: 1,000 x 3 x 0.62 x 75% = 1,395 gallons per month, or 16,740 gallons per year (minimum) This is a substantial amount and can certainly go a long way in conserving drinking water. Consider the possibilities!
December’s to-do list
The week after Thanksgiving and we have been spared from snow and cold weather, so far. This has been one of the nicest autumns in recent memory, and I am grateful to be living in western MA, where beauty and serenity abound. Just the other day I saw a Bald Eagle soaring as I exited 91N in Greenfield. Not many places where you can see them flying overhead so randomly. As we close on 2022, I wanted tosay “THANK-YOU” to all our Countryside Corner readers, andfrom everyone at Countryside Landscape & Design, we wish you Happy Holidays, and a peaceful and healthy New Year.
With the winter solstice, and colder weather on the way; I willbe preparing to protect certain plants from gnawing animals, and the effects of severe weather. I have had problems with voles and field mice, aka white-footed mice, eating the roots and stems of shrubs and perennials, while under cover of snow and dead leaves. Plants store sugar and starch in their roots during winter, and rodents are attracted to this food source. I use a castor oil-based repellent applied around the base of the plant to ward off under ground attack. I will wrap the trunk of my special flowering cherry tree, with flexible tree wrap, to about 18 inches above the ground. Cherries, and other fruit trees, even ornamental types, have thin bark, making them particularly susceptible to gnawing.
If your garden has been the scene of repeated browsing by deer and rabbits, you may be helped by applying an animal repellent. It is best to apply repellent products while temperatures are above freezing. An alternative for larger gardens is deer fencing. This is particularly effective for protecting living screen hedges, and orchards. Contact Scott Higley for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
White-footed mice are the primary vectors for Lyme infected ticks. These mice incubate generations of new ticks in their mouse nests. By breaking a link in the life cycle, you can help to reduce the population of ticks. Continue to set traps to reduce mouse numbers. Do a thorough cleanup of all the places mice may hide over the winter. Utilize Damminix tick tubes, which kill larval ticks in the mouse nest, and Tick Free repellent for thorough coverage against tick infestations. Ticks will continue to be active until we have snow cover and sustained cold. Contact Scott Higley for more information: email@example.com
Left over flower and veggies seeds can remain viable for several years if they are stored well. Seal them in Zip-loc bags and keep them in a cool dry place. A snap-lid container in the fridge would work well.
If you haven’t already inserted stakes along the edges of your driveway to mark the areas to be plowed, don’t forget to do this before the ground freezes. This helps the person clearing your snow do their best job, minimizing damage to your lawn, and garden beds.
Paper white Narcissus is a very easy and reliable indoor bulb that can bring a little flowering cheer to your home. They don’t need to be planted; I just set mine into a 12” tall vase on a base of pebbles, and water them lightly until the roots start to grow, thereafter; only once a week. They will bloom in 21 days. The 12” tall vase keeps the leaves from flopping. If you start them now, they can be in bloom by Christmas.
Resist the urge to cut down these plants to their bases: Russian Sage, Butterfly bush, and Caryopteris. They are considered woody perennials and leaving them whole helps them to over winter in areas where they are only marginally hardy. Let your ornamental grass stay whole also, they tend to be late coming up in spring, and the old stems help protect them.
If you keep a garden journal, now is the time to read and reflect on what has been successful, or not. If you’ve never kept a journal, it can be an invaluable tool for year-to-year garden planning. It’s also never too early to start planning for next year’s garden! Did your veggie garden produce as well as you’d hoped? Set a reminder for yourself to have your garden soil tested, and plan on making corrections before you start growing next spring. If you haven’t applied garden lime to your soil in the past few years, there is still time this month. Late fall is the best time for lime application, as the snow/rain and freeze/thaw cycle will help move the mineral into your soil profile through the course of winter.
Need help getting ready for winter? Give our office a call today. (413) 458-5586
New Garden Ideas for 2023!
I like to keep my gardening spirit active through the downtime during winter. I’m already envisioning new ideas for our 2023 gardening year. Since we are still in a water deficit in the Pioneer Valley, I’m taking that into consideration as I plan for next season. I’m also looking to garden smarter, and not harder; here a few ideas to get you thinking about gardening in the new year.
Greek Themed Gardens-I have been seeing this design idea all over the web. It harkens back to an image of romance and classicism: stone walls, Greek statuary and architectural elements. Think archways with climbing plants twining over it. Plant-shaded seating areas, adjacent to Grecian planters with ivy spilling over.
Color of the year-Terra cotta-Terra cotta means “baked earth,” and is a reddish-brown unglazed clay that is used to create pots and planters. Both the terra-cotta material and color are expected to play a big role in backyard design come the new year, adding a bit of a Moroccan or Mediterranean flare. The warm and vibrant tone will help balance out all the grays and neutrals that have dominated outdoor furniture and interior home décor.
Accessible Gardens-Super agers and Boomers living a productive and active lifestyle especially want to keep gardening as they age. Weeding has become my bane due to arthritis in my hands. Did you know there are now solar powered robotic weeders? It operates like an outdoor Roomba, and it gently tills the soil too. The Tertill weeder will be on my Xmas wish list!
Swapping lawns for meadow gardens-The trend for drought tolerant gardens and pollinator gardens is melding together. Many homeowners are removing their lawns and replanting it with drought tolerant meadow gardens. These gardens consist of primarily regional native plants that are naturalized together to give the appearance of a wild meadow. Though many of these plants consist of flowers, native grasses play a primary role. Meadows provide habitat to support wildlife, including bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insect pollinators. They don’t require fertilization or regular mowing, and no harmful chemical treatments.
Embrace vertical gardening-Make more of the space you have by maximizing its vertical potential. Vertical planting can also achieve privacy screening in small spaces by using rolling shelves, pergolas, trellises, hanging baskets, planter boxes, fence shelving, mounted containers, and pouches. Think of the unused ‘airspace’ above your beds as valuable space to grow more. You can even create a living wall indoors or outside to train plants on.
Grow your own bouquets-has become a hobby/job for some gardeners the last few years. Flower growers get a lot of satisfaction from growing a product that sparks joy for their customers. If you have an empty bed, or patch of ground, you can grow your own bouquet flowers too. Flowers with strong stems, and long bloom times work best: Dahlias, Cosmos, Zinnias, tall Ageratum, Celosia, Salvia, are readily available, and easy to grow suggestions for a cutting garden.
New flower and vegetable varieties are produced every year; growers test them in growing trials, such as those for the AAS. These new introductions were selected by AAS (All-American Selections) for attributes of habit, vigor, disease resistance, and flower presentation. Their growth habits, and productivity make them stand outs in the trial gardens; they will be winners in your garden too!
Hybrid Tomato ‘Zensei’- is an early-maturing, high-yielding Roma tomato for home gardeners. Zenzei produces a great yield of fleshy plum tomatoes that are perfect for canning and freezing. Neat and tidy plants produce fruits that are uniformly shaped and are easy to harvest on unique bushy yet indeterminate plants. Each fruit has fewer issues like spots and blossom end rot. Plant in full sun and provide stakes or a cage when the plant reaches the appropriate size but there is no need to prune!
Salvia ‘Blue By You’- This perennial features rich blue flowers that bloom up to two weeks earlier than the comparisons. ‘Blue By You’ has excellent winter hardiness and heat tolerance, ‘Blue by You’ salvia is an excellent candidate for your pollinator, cutting, and container gardens. Bright blue blossoms from late spring into fall, it will repeat bloom throughout the season when spent blooms are removed. Adored all season long by hummingbirds and butterflies. Salvia is resistant to browsing by deer or rabbits.
Salvia ‘Blue By You’
Squash kabocha ‘Sweet Jade’-This cute, single-serving-sized squash is the perfect addition to your garden for a fall harvest. Each fruit is between 1-2 pounds and can be used for single servings of squash, as an edible soup bowl, or in any number of Asian-style dishes where a sweet, earthy nutritious squash is typically used. Sweet Jade’s deep orange flesh is dry yet sweet and very flavorful whether roasted, baked, or pureed.
Squash ‘Sweet Jade’
Leucanthemum ‘Carpet Angel’-The first-ever groundcover Shasta Daisy! Growing only to a height of 6 inches, this unique Leucanthemum can act as a groundcover spreading up to 20 inches wide. Large 3-inch flowers boast a second inner frilly bloom adding to the unique look of Carpet Angel. The unique branching on this new AAS winner means more flower stems sporting beautiful pure white blooms that look like angels dancing over a carpet of dark green foliage. Deadheading will encourage repeat blooming.
Shasta Daisy ‘Carpet Angel’
Zinnia ‘Profusion’ Red Yellow Bicolor- Introducing a beautiful new bicolor addition to the popular Profusion series of zinnias. This gorgeous zinnia starts the season with a bold vibrant red center ring surrounded by golden-yellow outer petals. As the season progresses, the aging flowers morph into soft, beautiful shades of apricot, salmon, and dusty rose. This new compact Zinnia continued to bloom new flowers over the old, all summer, so there was never a decline in the floral display.
Zinnia ‘Profusion’ Red Yellow Bicolor