Real Men Sow

Introducing New Arrival Number 2

water butt against the back of my houseJust to bring things back on topic, I’m also delighted to announce the installation of my new water butt (this is not a sentence I ever imagined saying until recently). I absolutely love it. Not quite as much as my new son, but still, it is great.

I actually finished installing this whilst Ailsa was sat in the front room feeling the first of her contractions – just in time for both labour and all the rain we had over the weekend. I returned from the hospital to a brimming butt.

A Freebie Butt
Gratifyingly the butt was free, and probably the biggest success of my new £5 a month venture to date. These sorts of things are like gold dust on Freecycle and the like, but I got mine by chatting to a gentleman at work. He had one going spare, and by the next day the butt was safely in the boot of my car.

This is how I got my Dalek compost bins too. It is amazing what people are prepared to give away or swap once you get talking vegetables, and I still think getting to know likeminded folk is the best tip for anyone who is gardening on a budget.

So, a big thanks to Roy for my water butt, which with some cleaning, has come up rather smartly.

Why Get a Water Butt?
I’ve vowed to get a water butt since reading some startling estimates published by the Wildfowl and Wetlands trust back in 2011, who claimed that during hot summer days, over 70 per cent of the nation’s water supply may be being used for watering gardens.

Furthermore, the proportion of treated mains drinking water used for gardening in the UK can approach 50% during the drier months. However, if every household ran a water butt we would save about 30,000 million litres of water every summer – one roof alone collects enough water to fill 450 butts a year.

I suppose the question I’ve been asking myself is, if I knew all this, why has it taken me so long to pick up a butt? The answer, as with everything, is cost. A decent butt will set you back nearly £30, which might not sound much, but from short experience of running a household, those spare £30s tend to get spent on other things.

Government Assisted Scheme?
I’ve often wondered whether a government subsidised water butt scheme would help get more installed across the country, like some councils have done with insulation and compost bins in the past. I know that we’re in times of cuts, and butts probably aren’t at the top of the list for most local authorities, but our climate is changing and droughts like those experienced during 2012 could become far regular.

How to Pretty Up a Butt?

On a lighter note, I now have the challenge of making my water butt look attractive. I might be very satisfied with the installation of this useful freebie, but even I’ll admit that a water butt is not the prettiest thing to have stuck on to the back of our house.

Unfortunately, I’m bereft of ideas to make a big, green plastic barrel look remotely appealing, so any tips on that one would be gratefully received.

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  1. LorraineFebruary 14, 2013 at 7:35 pmReply

    Wrap a bit of net around it then grow some sweetpeas in pots around it, they will attach to the net and cover it…

  2. Alan @ it's not work, it's gardening!February 14, 2013 at 8:20 pmReply

    It’s actually not too unattractive already, based on some designs I’ve seen over here.

    I had one of these years ago but found it impractical for our climate. During dry months I’d use it up in a day, then it would sit empty for a week or more until a thunderstorm filled it up in 5 minutes — I really need one with 10x the capacity, and am seriously considering having a cistern buried under my driveway when it’s time to have it redone.

    I like Lorraine’s idea.

  3. Jono

    JonoFebruary 14, 2013 at 8:29 pmReplyAuthor

    I like Lorraine’s idea too. I’ve got some netting that is perfect for the job too. Thanks Lorraine. :)

    I love your cistern under the driveway idea too Alan. I watched a really interesting property building programme a while ago, where the guy lived in a really dry part of Australia. The whole house was essentially a load of water tanks built into the walls, harvesting water from the roof. Quite inspiring.

  4. Claire BensonFebruary 17, 2013 at 9:51 amReply

    At mum’s house they have wire mesh around the tank and honey suckle grows all over it now.

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About Real Men Sow

meIn 2007, I took on a redundant allotment plot with my gardening-mad mum Jan. As all good mums do, she went along with it, but I don’t think she held out much hope. However, over a decade later, and she now lets me do stuff without watching over my shoulder, so I must be doing something right. [ read more ]

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