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  • Writer's pictureKate

Activity of the day: Get a couple of butts (for rainwater...)

Once again, we'll point out that the weather has changed. But it's likely to change back dry again soon- and even if it doesn't, indoor plants, greenhouse plants and plants in very sheltered locations are going to need watering whatever the weather.

If you're in the Severn Trent region you can get hold of free or subsidised water saving items including water butts here - and many other water companies will have similar schemes if you live in a different area.

At the moment, Severn Trent only have subsidised small water butts- but keep an eye out, because they often have the larger ones too, and sometimes have free giveaways.

Water butts are really useful: Rainwater is better for most plants than tap water: In this region, the tap water has gone through lots of limestone in the ground before being treated, meaning it contains a lot of calcium carbonate and is quite alkaline and "hard"- something that many plants don't really like. Rain water doesn't have this issue- and isn't chlorinated either.

As an extra bonus, by using water butts you'll be reducing demand on the water system during hot weather- helping our groundwater and rivers stay healthy and keeping pressure off the mains system so people are less likely to end up without water. And even better, during wet weather you'll be collecting some of the rain runoff from your roof into the water butts rather than letting it go into the drains, reducing the effects of flooding.

A handy hint in winter is to leave one or more water butts with the tap a tiny bit open- if lots of people have a leaky water butt like this it can really help reduce flooding peaks by slowing down rainwater getting to rivers.

And helpfully, water butts are really easy to fit. Most come with all the parts you need except for a ruler, pen, screwdriver and small saw. All you need to do is cut a small section out of your downpipe, measuring the correct height against the water butt top pipe, then put in the diverter and use a small screw to hold it in place. Make sure the water butt is secure on its base (if you have children, consider fixing the water butt to the wall with a strong strap- these things are HEAVY when full and could crush someone if they pulled one over)- then you're all done and will have an extra water source for years to come!

Just as soon as our Crow Wood CIC greenhouse is glazed, we're looking forwards to getting some extra water butts connected- not only will it help reduce the allotments' mains water use, we can attach a hose to the water butts if we put them at the top of the plot- meaning less bucket carrying for us- hooray!

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