Friday, 28 August 2009

Measuring Rainfall

When I hear people talk about so many "inches of rainfall" it drives me crazy. "How can you measure rainfall in inches? It's not one dimensional!", I first thought. Now I understand how it's done, I still think it's dumb.

It's done like this. You collect rainwater. You use a funnel of a certain size and it feeds into a tube. The side of the tube has a reading of so many inches. You can then say that there were so many inches of rainfall in a certain time.

This is dumb because you have to know that the container is of a specific size to understand what an 'inch of water' is. If you want to compare notes with someone else in another country, for example, you have to make sure the containers are exactly the same size. You also then have to make sure that your funnels were the same size, otherwise you have to do some calculations.

The better way is to simply measure rainfall per square metre. That way you can say, "Well, my garden is so many square metres, then it will get so much rain." Instead of saying, "Well, my garden is so many square metres, and I expect so many inches of rain, therefore that works out'm sure it'll be fine."

How to calculate rainfall per square metre:

1) Figure the area of the top of your funnel in square centimetres. (A = πr²)
2) Catch some rain!
3) Measure how much rain(R) you catch in millilitres.
4) The amount of rain you catch per square metre is 10R/A litres per square metre.

Example: The top of my funnel has a 5cm radius. It's area is 78.54 square cms.
I catch 100ml of rain. Per square metre, that's (10 x 100)/78.54 litres = 12.7 litres.

Easy, right? Obviously to really be of any use, you'll have to measure rainfall daily or weekly for about a year and use the results to estimate what the rainfall might be like the following year. Personally, that's way too boring for me. I just work with whatever the weather throws at me. But a rant against measuring rain in inches was deserved. Because it's dumb. And it's dumb.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Evian Bottles = Rainwater Collection

Hey guys,

I drink a lot of Evian water. I'm not proud of it. I'd admit it in a courtroom.

It straight up tastes better than that shit that comes out of the tap and stinks of bleach and tastes awful. So I have a lot of empty bottles.

Today I made a gutter out of empty Evian bottles and I made rain chains out of the tops of the bottles. It's attached to the shed outside. It's pretty fricking sweet.

Temporarily, I have a bucket I found underneath the rain chain with a mesh pegged onto it for crude filtering. I reclaimed a huge plastic barrel a month or so ago from a construction site dump and once it's converted into a rainbarrel, it will sit under this guttering. Right now, the compost heaps are in the way.


Urban Homesteaders know a lot about greywater systems. If you don’t know, household water is usually classified into 3 types:

CLEANWATER (or potable water): the stuff that comes out of your faucet. It has been processed and chlorinated and is safe to drink.
GREYWATER: the water you throw away after it’s been through your bathroom sink, your shower, your bath or your washing machine.
BLACKWATER: the used water from your toilet.

Looking at the diagram, you can see that cleanwater goes to your bathroom sink, bath, shower and washing machine, and becomes greywater. That greywater can then be re-used to irrigate your garden and to flush your toilet: (because what kind of idiots are we to flush our toilets with drinking water?? >_<)

If you live in an area of little rainfall and/or high water bills, then reusing greywater is important. If you live in an area of higher rainfall like Aberdeen, then reusing greywater may not be necessary.

However, a rainbarrel is useful in any situation. It's convenient to have an outside water source for watering plants and it can be attached to an outside sink which soiled gardener's hands appreciate. In any case, reusing water is cool and it's fun.

if you live in an area of high water bills and/or low rainfall, or you think it would be cool to learn how to build greywater systems, then become a greywater guerrilla. At the very least set up a rainbarrel. If you're resourceful it will cost you nothing. I 'reclaimed' my rainbarrel from a construction site.

The major obstacle in water self-sufficiency is converting rainwater into cleanwater. Convert rainwater to cleanwater and your water supply is free. I know about filtration, reverse osmosis, chlorine, ozone, UV rays and solar stills. I know you can set up a system for just under £10,000 that'll give you over 45 kilolitres of storage, and give you a roof washer, ozone treatment, sediment and carbon filters and UV sterilisation. It'll pay itself off in about 6 years. I'm holding out until I learn the free method.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Hijacking your face from across the Atlantic

Hi. Hello.
My name is Whitney. I am kind of a writer on this blog too...sort of, but not really since I haven't contributed yet. I believe it's safe to say that my other half is much better at the gettin' the info out there and makin' things happen! part. :)

But I did want to say hi and to also say that here in a few months I will be showing you lovelies my adventures in attempting to harvest basil seeds! Oooh I know you're all looking forward to that. :)

Until then, keep on munchin'!

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Landshare and Why You All Suck

Hey guys,

A while back Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall started this project called Landshare. People who have land available for growing can post about it on the Landshare website. At the same time, people who want to grow can make a post on the site too. That way, people who have land and want land can network and get something started. It's all free, the land is free and you don't have to wait many years like you do with allotments. It's all available immediately! Why aren't you doing it already!?

So I just checked it out, and there are a bunch of people with land available in Aberdeen. If you're interested, follow this link:

Aberdeen's Landshare

If you're thinking of growing on someone else's land, make sure you actually know something about growing and about developing healthy soil. Don't go out there to spread your awful Aberdonian idea of gardening that you learned off the back of a seed packet. If you're the kind of person that gardens with a spade in one hand and a bottle of Roundup in the other, please give up gardening, and living altogether in fact. You would do more for the world if you died, rotted and composted your corpse than if you go out into the world to spread your awful gardening practices.

If you want to learn what growing is, read the free books I have linked you to under 'essential reading' on this page, to the right.

Don't buy compost: make your own. Don't buy fertilizers: be fertile, promote fertility. Don't use herbicides or pesticides: that's like fucking for virginity. Growing plants is great, but growing soil is better. Make it your priority and watch it pay you back tenfold. Don't dig your soil. Ever.

If you disagree with any of these statements, then you are not a gardener I recognise. You're just another seed planter who wonders year upon year why their produce was better the year before, and why the soil is turning to sand.