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MASTER GARDENERS: Tend to the keyhole for fun gardening

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Rainwater harvesting is the capture and collection of rainwater to be used at a later date. To our ancestors, using cisterns to capture and hold rainwater was a way of life. It is hard to think of doing this after receiving more than three inches of rain this last week, and a hurricane going on, but in West Texas it is needed.

Rainwater is great for landscape use. It is free of salts, minerals, chemicals, etc., which are used to treat our public water supplies. Rainwater often has a nitrogen content which promotes a fertilizing effect for plants. Rainwater is helpful in attracting wildlife (birds, bees, butterflies, etc.) in our urban landscapes, but the greatest benefit is it is free.

How do you capture rainwater? Any place rainwater runs off of your roof is an excellent place to locate five-gallon buckets, trash cans, 55-gallon drums or a manufactured rain barrel. After a rain event, a lid or cover over the containers will eliminate algae and mosquitoes. To give you an idea of how much rain can be saved — if you have a 1,000-square-foot roof area, and we get one inch rain, the runoff will be roughly 500 gallons of good fresh rainwater.

If your house has rain gutters, then a rainwater storage tank would be ideal. Just use one of the down spouts to direct the water to the storage tank. The storage tank can be located some distance away from your house or it can be painted to make it blend in with the colors of your house. Storage tanks may be made of polyethylene, fiberglass, wood, concrete or metal. A small sprinkler pump can be used to transport the water to an area of your landscape where the water is needed, or it can be used to feed water into an existing sprinkler system or to a drip system.

With rainwater harvesting, there are many options you can use. It all depends on how much water you want to save for future use and how fancy you want your system to be.

Come see us at the Permian Basin Fair in Barn G. We will be there the on Sept. 9, 10, 14 and 16.

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