Monday, April 4, 2011

My Gardeners’ Sustainable Living Projects 2011



Living up in the hills and having to conserve water had become a way of life for us at our home.
When we bought this house over forty years ago it was already an very old home and because of the price of drilling water wells which had to be drilled so deep it was years before we got our water well drilled.
The water we had came from a cistern that collected rainwater which flows from the roofs of the house into a downspout which went into a filter and then on into the cistern.
The cistern is made from blocks which are sealed and a concrete top over lays it. The cistern holds about 1800 gallons of water. When the dry weather of summer came along the cistern would go dry and we would have to buy loads of water to fill it which ran about $50.00 dollars a load.That may not sound too steep now but back then it was a lot of money for a growing family. So that is how I learned to conserve water and I still do not waste water even to this day. After we finally got a real water well drilled I thought I was in heaven. Having the cistern hooked up already with a tank and pump in the basement which then pumped it into the kitchen, washroom and bathroom I had them save this all to be used just for the garden. So we had a new tank and pump hooked up from the new well to take care of the house.
All of the cistern water is now used for my gardening and watering the beds in the summer.
When the filter for the cistern which was made of tile cracked I was so disappointed because I hated the loss of all of that rainwater.That is when I decided to get a rain barrel to catch the water in.
My rain barrel has had a rough life so far. LOL!
I hooked up an overflow pipe from the bottom of the rain barrel  which runs straight into the cistern.


I hooked up an overflow pipe from the bottom of the rain barrel  which runs straight into the cistern through a hole drilled into the lid.

The lid is due for some serious scrapping and paint work this summer.


The lid on the cistern has a handle so I can lift it to see how much water is in it.
So this is my way of harvesting water just for my garden, because it would not be clean enough now to drink without the filter but the plants love the rainwater. The hose from the rain barrel is great for filling my watering cans and with a water hose hooked up to a separate tank and pump in the basement I can run the hose to water all of the beds using only the rain water from the cistern.
The only time I use the well water in the garden is when the cistern goes dry in a long dry spell during the summer.
The plants love the warmer water from the cistern and do not like the well water because the well water is too cold since the drilled well is so deep.


I use the top of the cistern for my potting bench and  where I work. I also have a great chair there where on a warm summer evening I can set and read and watch the birds at the nearby birdbaths and houses.


I try to compost …..


stop your laughing!!! LOL!

This is my compost bin, an old trash can that the wheel broke off from. In fact I have a couple.
There is drain holes drilled into the bottom and I throw everything into it including my shredded mail. It doesn’t look pretty I know and it is worse when it comes time to try to stir up the composting matter. It is terrible to dig into and square trash cans do not roll too well to stir up the compost. The lid has a way of flying off  also and spilling the mess. LOL!  Not a good system at all.
I really need to come up with a better way to compost but I have used it for a few years now.

Going Green Gardening

I was contacted this winter by Andy McGee to try out their John & Bobs products of Grow Green Smart Soil Solutions.


I told him I would love to try their soil amendments and natural fertilizers.
We had a scare here last summer when twelve of  our lakes in Ohio got blue green algae in them, which can go toxic and is very harmful to humans and the fish population. The consensus  is  that it is caused  from the unrestrained use of phosphorus fertilizers in farming which gets into the the water table near the lakes.
So anything I can do to keep gardening safer for our state even if it is on a small scale through the use of natural microbes and organic soils amendments I want to try. I am excited to try their products in my gardening. They even have soil penetrators for clay soil and since that is what my soil is made up of I cannot wait to get out and get to working with them and to pass on the results to my fellow gardeners.
These are a few of the things I am doing in my own gardening efforts to help keep a Sustainable Living Keeping Mother Earth Green.
March 15 – April 15, 2011

Join us with our Hostess Jan at “Thanks for Today
for the “Garden Bloggers Sustainable Living Project”
and tell us what you are doing to help keep gardening natural or if you will green.
Celebrate Earth Day April 22, 2011.

Happy Gardening,



T Opdycke said...

What a great post! Reading about how you conserve water is such an inspiration. You reduce, reuse and recycle all in one project, which is quite admirable.

Here's to spring arriving soon.

~Gardener on Sherlock Street said...

I am jealous of your cistern! :-)
I have 3 rain barrels exactly like your one. If I had more space to sit rain barrels, I'd probably have more. Mine sit on top cinder blocks to make filling buckets easier. I started with a plastic trash can and then bought my first barrel because it could hold more water. I just kept expanding ever since. I know it would be hard to rely on the cistern for a household's water needs. My grandparents had one for their house complete with a hand pump in the kitchen. We are big water safers here too. Sometimes, I have to resort to using city water to soak my garden when we hit a dry spell. Last year, I did that three or four times. I use soaker hoses to save every drop. I'm constantly looking for ways to hold rain water on our property so the trees have a chance to use it.
I have a compost tumbler, although I'm not great at using it. I tend to just throw stuff in a pile but I have plans for the place where the pile sat so it got leveled this past weekend. Boy was that great soil under there. As long as you're providing a way for all those good scraps and stuff to break down, you're doing good!
I'm enjoying your garden!

Corner Gardener Sue said...

Hi Lona,
I enjoyed your post. I like all of your doings with the cistern and rain barrels. I've been thinking about what to write about for the sustainable living thing, but the fact that our tree is going to have to come down gets into my brain, and I can't focus on that subject.

Corner Gardener Sue said...

I forgot to say I like the "chippiness" of the lid to the cistern. People try to achieve that look on things by painting more than one color, then scraping some off.

A Garden of Threads said...

Great post Lona, I would love a cistern to collect my overflow from the rainbarrel. Happy Gardening.

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

I love learning about your cistern. People were being environmentally friendly back then without even realizing it. If we had rain barrels they would be overflowing everywhere right now. As I read your post I was trying to think about what I do in my garden that helps the environment, now to try and write a post on it :)

Anonymous said...

You have a lot of green going on. The cistern is a great reuse and your garden it the beneficiary. My compost bins are huge, black growers pots for trees 3 feet in diameter. They already have the holes in plus some holes on the sides of the pots. They are low enough to keep the rotation going easily. I just keep one of the five empty. Just emptied two into the garden.

Lori at Jarvis House said...

I have often thought about setting up a cistern, because on Long Island we get a lot of rain. In August the back of my garden browns out becasue it is slightly up hill. Maybe this is another project for my son and I. Do you hook up a sprinkling head to the tank? Usually my soil is so wet, that I never think sbout a sprinkling system, but in the late summer I could use it. thanks so much for the info. In one of my last blogs I showed a picture of my son-in-law's answer to a composter made from a 50 gal. plastic barrel. Cheers Lori from the Jarvis Garden

Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

We are on a well for the first time in my life. Your story of the cistern and how you have to conserve water is a wonderful tale to repeat to us many times over. We take for granted the water coming out of the spigot.
Well done!

Hocking Hills Gardener said...

T: Girl I think we are going to finally get some warmer weather. I am so happy. LOL!

GSherlockStreet: Once you have had to watch every drop of water it is hard not to appreciate the stuff. It was a good lesson though at the time it was a pain. LOL!

Sue: I like chippy too but I need to keep that lid from rotting so it really needs a new coat of paint.

Jen: It sure does come in handy for the garden. Have a great week.

Catherine: Well girl one think is you did away with your grass. That is a lot of upkeep.

GardenWalk: Now that is a great idea for a compost holder. I really need a better way.The trash can is just too awkward.

Lori: You could hook hose or soaker hoses right up to it. That would be a great idea.

Janet: Some kids today would find it hard not to be able to waste a lot of water, It is taken for granted.

keewee said...

I have a huge cistern/tank thingie we were given, sitting in the yard, all we need to do is get it set up to catch the rain water. One job at a time is in order right now.

Karen said...

Hi Lona, I can really relate to this post. Growing up on the farm we had a very shallow well and the cows had to drink first, so no wasting of water. We also had a cistern in my parent's house with the old hand pump, nothing like soft water to rinse your hair in.

I cringe every time I drive down a city street and see water running down the sewer from a homeowner sprinkling their lawn at 1 in the afternoon. Such waste.

I have five rain barrels here, and wish I had more. The quarry right now is too full of water and Carl and I were debating some way to pump it down and save the water for later in the season when we need it (because during dry times, the quarry pond goes down to a puddle) but how could we keep a few thousand gallons of water around?? I guess I need a really BIG cistern!

Rosey said...

These are are great ways to "love the earth." I have same exact rain barrel. Love it.
I need to get my post up for this event...almost forgot!
Thanks for your visit to my blog.

Becca's Dirt said...

Being here on the Gulf Coast where it rains almost every week we have never collected rain water for gardening. I compost and am glad to have it too. I found some wire and configured it with some twist ties to make me a compost bin. That is hard to compost using the trash can. Hope you are having a good day Lona.

Hocking Hills Gardener said...

Jennifer: I have saw those and wish we had had one. You would not have to seal them all the time. No Leaking.

Karen: You need one of those huge plastic ones they make now to put into the ground. That would be ideal to keep your extra pond water.

Rosey: I wish I had one more barrel to help catch more water. Two sounds wonderful. Thanks for dropping by.

Becca: Now your compost idea sounds better than my trash can. Have a wonderful week sweetie.

Elephant's Eye said...

Toxic algal bloom in the vleis in South Africa is caused by the phosphates in washing powder. Another reason why we try to keep our grey water in the garden. Making green plants here, not poisoning the rivers and lakes.

CanadianGardenJoy said...

Lona you and I have the same rain barrel girl !! haha .. but I don't have the cistern and that would be amazing! .. I have to have a watering system for a few of my thirstier garden beds, so we have to figure that chore out.
Composting .. really difficult with a small garden. My dream composter would be the suspended container with a hand crank system .. although I still have no idea where the heck I would put it!
Hey congrats on all that you are doing to be kind to mother earth : )

.............................. said...

Hi Lona, This year I am installing a plastic rain barrel at the side of the house where the garden hose does not reach. (August is always super dry here.) We have a well in the basement and one day I hope to hook up a garden hose to it to water my plants.

tina said...

I just so enjoyed reading about your cistern. I've never seen one and think it neat how it worked for you. Conserving water would indeed be the name of the game. It's great now that you have a deep well and can use the cistern water for the plants. And how creative to make the rain barrel flow into the cistern!

HolleyGarden said...

DH and I have talked for years about getting some kind of large tank for water storage. I am going to tell him about your cistern. Great post.

The Redneck Rosarian said...

The water tank is an excellent idea. I need one to catch the loads of rainwater that comes off our house and floods our driveway!

Andrea said...

Hi Lona, i really like that cistern style of rainwater saving. I didn't know that there are places in the US with difficult water supply, i thought it is only us here in developing countries! I have been thinking of doing the same but i still have not enough funds to do that, last year's long dry season killed some of our fruit trees. What is the dimension of your cistern? If i can make that it is also difficult to buy pumps and plumbing, oh how i wish we have more finances, so our plants will not suffer that much.

On the other hand, i pity your composting style, it can be difficult. In our case we just leave it on the ground with some boundaries, nature just do the rest. Your posts however will help lots of bloggers, i for one, for the inspiration by the cistern.

Stephanie said...

I hope you will have a new compost bin. LOL! That's too small for you actually. You have lots of plants in your garden you know.

Bonnie said...

Great post!

Skeeter said...

I for one must say, you are sure doing your part to help Mother Earth! I know your plants enjoy the rain water verses water from a city faucet. Your story of the cistern brings back memories of stories told me by my grandmother of their water source being from a cistern! So thanks for striking those memories and reminding us how precious water is to us all…

Asha Ram said...

You have a beautiful garden!

Hocking Hills Gardener said...

ElephantsEye: This is the first year we have had to deal with it. The conditions were just right. They had to close off the lakes to tourists because of it for a time.

Joy: I bet your barrel looks in better shape than mine. LOL! Of well it works and that is all the matters I guess. A hand crank sounds good to me girl. LOL!'

ThreeDogsGarden: They sure are handy and the plants will thank you.

Tina: I was like a kid in a candy store I was so excited when we got our first well. LOL!

Holley: The new plastic ones are just the berries nowadays.

Chris: There you go just the spot for a rain barrel.

Andrea: The cistern is about 8 square feet around and 10 ft. deep. It would be better for you to get one of the new plastic ones to put in the ground. No maintenance.

Stephanie: You are so right I really need a bigger compost pile for my beds.

Bonnie: Hey girl thanks for dropping by!

Skeeter: They were quite common to all of the houses here in the hills. People do what they have to do to get by. Glad you enjoyed the memories.

Ahsa Ram: Thank you so much and thanks for dropping by!

Barbara said...

Hi Lona, your rain water system is great. And I love the glimpse of your garden with the pots. And if that old trash can produces compost, who cares what it looks like!

Kate @ Gardening and Gardens said...

What a great post. I enjoyed reading how you conserve water and also learned a little something too! Your compost bin may not be the fanciest, but hey, at least you are composting!

Jan@Thanks for today. said...

Hi Lona, what a fantastic post about what you are doing! Despite no longer being able to use the 'old' cistern for drinking what how ingenious of you to re-use it as you are doing! Too bad all homes today aren't built with something like that--simple to provide an area to collect rain water, as you are doing! Directing the excess from your rainbarrel is so smart. Makes me wish I had one too! I do have a rain barrel now and it filled up in one big rainstorm! I think we will be adding one to a few other downspouts now that I know how good they are! I also think that no matter how we compost, it doesn't matter--just so we do it! Last year we had a pile in the back yard and this spring I planted things right into it! Now that I have the new compost bin I'm keeping it close to the house and don't have to walk out into the yard. But piles on the ground work quite well, or in trash bins, as you are doing. I didn't realize what I was 'wasting' by throwing things in the garbage until I started thinking about it more seriously, just last year. Now I will always compost, in some way. I will look forward to reading how you like the product you are going to trial! You have such a beautiful garden Lona, I am sure your plants are going to love it':-) Thanks so much for linking to my sustainable living project/giveaway! Good luck!

Rose said...

A great post, Lona! I think that every small thing that each of us does can add up to a major impact on the evironment. I think it's great that even with a well, you do so much to conserve water. My compost pile isn't very pretty either, and it's so stuffed with leaves, I'm having trouble turning it at all. Oh well, eventually it will all transform into that lovely black gold.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lona.
I haven't been by in a while but it's looking very springlike there reading thru your recent posts. I LOVE your potting bench photo. It looks so inviting ~ one of those pictures you could stare at for hours there are so many things to look at.
I REALLY need to get a rain barrel this year. I should have installed one way before now. Hoping your post was the "kick" I needed!
So glad you have blooms back in your garden again too.