Monday, October 13, 2008

What are those blue things? Part 1

Ahh, going green. Looks great on paper, but in reality, it's somewhat a colossal pain in the buttocks, but the results are worth it.

Rain barrels. Frankly, this past summer has been sooooooo rainless, I think my act of building them is a modern version of the rain dance, only instead of dancing, traditional singing and a celebration of the earth; there was instead lots of swearing. :)

So let's begin!

The barrels.


These are food grade barrels that I got from a local salad dressing company that I found on craigslist. Just type in rainbarrels and you will surprised what will come up.

Before I get to modifying the barrels I had to first prepare the ground...

hole.jpg picture by Javaman8263
I dug out a plot 4 feet by 2 1/2 feet. 4 inches deep.

If you notice the pipe in the upper right corner, well, that's were this happened...

pipehole.jpg picture by Javaman8263

One must know where all water lines run in ones back yard before driving sharp shovels into the ground.

And here is a very handy tool to keep around...

waterwrech-1.jpg picture by Javaman8263

This little gadget allows one to shut off the main water line so the geyser of water shooting from the ground will stop. ;)

It was a humbling moment.

After a while, the ground soaked up the water and I was able to continue.

I then filed it with 2 inches of sand, to allow for expansion and contraction during the hot hot hot Texas summers and the chilly and occasionally freezing winter months.

I also started placing my bricks. Keep a level handy. You want to try and keep them as level as possible, but be aware, some settling will occur during flight.
IMG_0866.jpg picture by Javaman8263

With all the brinks in place. I took the remaining sand and spread it out over the bricks to fill in the cracks...
fulltile.jpg picture by Javaman8263

My ground is now prepared for the barrels.

That is the end of part one.

FYI: I got the bricks at Home Desperate for 1.39 a piece, the sand was cheap. Each 50 lb bag was 99 cents.

Tomorrow: What are those blue things? Part 2. I modify the barrels and install all the piping. Weeeeeee!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

What the Green???

Hey all,
This is my attempt at helping folks trying to go green. This will be for those people who haven't the foggiest idea where to start, how to start or even what being green means.

"Green" is a very over used term these days. It's applied to everything from coal to toilet paper.

To me, simply put, is decreasing ones carbon foot print on the earth. I mean, is that hard to understand? Meh, I guess some people believe so.

Anyway, this blog will follow me and my wife's trials and tribulations in "greening" our home and yard.

Granted, a major portion of this blog will be mostly about my yard and how we are on a mission to grow as much food as we can in our yard but at the same time to work with nature by having a place for butterflys, bees, birds and other critters to live.

That said, let the insanity begin!!

First up, a little background. My wife and I have just finished suffering through remodeling our home for the past 2 1/2 years. I did about 65% of the work and had contractors do the other 45%. We got contractors mostly to help preserve our sanity.
Now that the house is about 95% complete, I'm now shifting my attention to the backyard.

And here is my yard:
Backyardhalfw-arrows.jpg picture by Javaman8263
I'm still new at this and will work out the kinks as time goes by. Okay, after messing around with the photo, it appears as if (the place where I source my photos from) as a size limit. Sigh.

If you can read the teeny tiny itzy bitzy print, there are several arrows with numbers. This is basically the order by which I'm going to take on each and every project.

Briefly, 1) I will install rain-barrels 2) rebuild my Fred Flintstone composter 3) Build a new clothes line (instead of the last minute quickly I put up 2 years ago) 4) figure out something to do with the condensation line from my A/C unit 5) the most ambitious project of them all - relocate my shed and build a root cellar underneath it. That will be a massive undertaking. And our ongoing garden expansion.

We have gigantic plans for turning our entire yard into a food factory and we will do this by employing the squirrels as unskilled labor thus saving on overhead and our backs. We are currently working with the squirrel union boss. We hope to reach an agreement soon.

That aside. Water. Everyone needs it and so do plants. I could use our hose and pay for the water, but since I have a cheapskate tendency running through my veins, I choose to get the free stuff from the sky at least for the garden...for now.

My next post will show the step by step procedure for how I put together the rain barrel. It will include time, costs, stubbed thumbs and the general insanity that went into rain barrel construction.

Thanks and remember, Green is good!!!