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Rain barrels on sale again

By Darrell Blackwelder
Cooperative Extension
Installing a rain barrel may be one of the most practical methods for homeowners to conserve water and possibly save valuable landscape plant materials. With the rain we’ve had the past week it seems a moot point to install a rain barrel but there are always periods of drought in the summer. Even with ample rainfall, evaporation occurs quickly with high temperatures requiring supplemental irrigation.
An inch of rainfall on a 1,000- square-foot roof surface is capable of producing more than 620 gallons of water. Even a small shower will fill a barrel, saving valuable landscape plants or preserving a well with weak gallons per minute.
It is a simple and affordable way to harvest rain water from gutters. Collecting rainwater in rain barrels or other depositories is an ancient practice. Historical records show that rainwater was collected in simple clay containers 2,000 years ago in Thailand. Rain barrels are now used extensively in more arid climates in the western United States as a way to conserve water for plants during extremely dry weather.
Cooperative Extension will offer rain barrels again this spring. These barrels are manufactured locally from high density polyethylene with deep ribbed sides for strength. It is important to note that a 60-gallon barrel filled with water weighs 500 pounds and an 80-gallon barrel close to 700 pounds; thin-walled plastic trash cans are not suitable as rainwater collectors.The rain barrels fill from any size gutter downspout through a insect-proof mesh cover. The unit also comes with a solid brass spigot which connects easily to your garden hose or soaker hose. The barrel also features two overflow ports that easily connect to standard water hoses diverting excess rainwater away from your home to nearby shrubbery areas.
The 80-gallon barrel offered is only 37 inches high and 28 inches wide with a deep concave top to channel water into the entry cover. The barrel has a screened entry preventing insects and debris from entering the rain barrel.
Costs are $100 for an 80-gallon barrel and $90 for a 60-gallon barrel. Deadline to place an order is April 24. Customer pick-up is scheduled for April 29 at the Agricultural Center on Old Concord Road.Contact Cooperative Extension Service-704-216-8970 or darrell_blackwelder@ncsu.edu to place an order or visit the Rowan County Master Gardener Web site at www.rowanmastergardener. com for more descriptive information about the unit.

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