Drip irrigation helps with watering in the vegetable garden.
Drip irrigation is usually my go-to in the garden, but after a Memorial Day weekend mixup, I'm thinking of adding rain barrels to the plan as well.

What a week! My three daughters finished their school year this past week, we celebrated my husband’s birthday and we joined family to celebrate Memorial Day. Whew!!! Loads of fun but it certainly caught up to me.

When we got back in town Monday evening, I did my usual “to do” list for the week ahead and looked forward to the morning puttering around in my robe with a nice cup of coffee and spending some time pruning our flowers. However, the next morning while my little ones slept, I walked down to look over the roses and flowers and check on my veggie garden’s progress, with coffee in hand. I have to say, the sight of my veggie beds stopped me cold. The tomatoes looked terrible… Like they hadn’t been watered in forever. But that couldn’t be, I thought, because we have a drip system that is so efficient and has never let me or my plants down. But the closer I got and after looking over the soil, it was obvious that the water system must have failed.

I called my husband to check and see if he had tinkered with the drip system controls, and then he reminded me that the power had been turned off at the pool/guest house that sits next to my vegetable and herb beds: “Remember me telling you that we need to run an extension cord temporarily…blah blah blah.” (Vaguely…Yes and no…) It hadn’t really registered as there were so many things going on at once and we were trying to get out if town. Oh man! Now my garden was paying the price. I had come to rely on the drip system and honestly didn’t bother to check it (which I did regularly last summer).

So… this brings me to my back up plan because I hoisted the big green hose down to the water hose bib that sits by my beds and…. Again, no power, so I had no water source. The closest water source from there is about a half of a football field away and I needed to make 10 to 15 runs… Ridiculous!

Syrup barrels can be converted to rain barrels.
A friend's rain barrels are made from white syrup barrels donated to a local nonprofit by Coca-Cola.

After several trips back and forth, I decided I need a rain barrel. I’ve been talking about getting one for years but kept putting it off, especially when I got a drip system and got a little lazy. It’s on my birthday (June) list!

Rain barrels are relatively inexpensive (around $99 for most I’ve seen) and come in natural colors to camouflage them. You can also make a rain barrel yourself and make it a fun household project. A friend made hers from syrup barrels donated by Coca-Cola to the Alabama Environmental Council. Read about Coca-Cola’s 1,000 rain barrels project and watch a video on how to build your own rain barrel. I might just add “make a rain barrel” to my summer to-do list.

You can also read about rain barrels and other drought-busting techniques in the Bonnie website’s Watering section.