Clean the gutters or you will end up with smelly water; actually it's a chore all homeowners should do whether they are harvesting the rain or not.
It’s now several months since we have had rain, and most likely your tanks and reservoirs too are low. It is time to roll up your sleeves and clean them out. It is not a pleasant chore, but must be done if we want clean, potable water when the Spring drizzle begins.
First syphon the water out of the sump leading to your reservoir if you have one.
The place to start is with the gutters; it’s definitely my least favourite Saturday afternoon job, but they will be filled with autumn leaves that will soon give your water a greenish tinge and an unpleasant smell.
Make sure the ladder is on stable ground, and preferably have someone hold it or lash it to a purloin. Take up a bucket, various paddles and a cut-off two litre milk jug to scoop up any sludge; it makes great humus for the compost heaps.
Now hose down your gutters; the detritus will be washed into the sump leading to the reservoir, from which you can then scoop it out. It's unpleasant but takes just one afternoon every year.
There are various leaf-traps that will protect your gutters; I must look into them.
One of the joys of a fibreglass tank is that they come with a plug at the base that you can unscrew and most of the gunge will pour out without any effort; plastic may be more difficult.
Slosh it out with a hosepipe to get it clean; obviously you save as much of the water as possible for the garden.
The most difficult is the reservoir, if you are privileged to have one. A hired pump with a large throat that will suck up all the debris makes life a lot easier. Then you simply have to use various squeegees and buckets to clean out any decomposed leaves that have settled at the bottom; and other fine material.
A five-litre icecream container is useful for scraping up the sludge. It takes me a couple hours; once a year, so one can’t complain considering the abundant rainwater harvest that makes us independent of the municipal vagaries.
Actually utility woes are no longer unexpected in South Africa; they have become the norm. At the time of writing in 2022 the price of water has been increased by an unfathomable 50%; is it time for you to start consider harvesting the rain on a much larger scale? If I was to do it again I would make the underground reservoir 5m in diameter and two metres deep; nearly 40 cubes. It will be paid off within three years.
This is also the time to open the compost heaps, and get all that wonderful humus into the garden in readiness for spring; we let the hens mull it over, pecking out the cutworms and other larvae.
Compost heaps in late winter is a subject all of its own; leave one small part for the butternut and pumpkin seeds.
We do our best to save the earthworms which are returned to the compost heap. A bakkie-load of manure does wonders too.
If you are planning to raise chicks this is the time to get the nesting boxes in readiness; you’ll soon have a broody hen or two. It needs to be placed close to the rest of the flock, but separate so the mother is not disturbed by the other birds. It needs to be secure at night so that the uchakide will not attack them; I like that Zulu word but not the creature.
We could go on about pruning the hydrangeas and roses, but I will leave that for the gardening columns; it’s a busy time around the green home.
Hopefully you are reaping baskets of fresh peas and carrots; radish and even the peppadews are still thriving. Your lettuce, kale and spinach are at their best.
Many human health problems are associated with our increasingly sedentary lifestyles. You have the choice of pumping iron at the gym, or climbing ladders to clean the gutters; lifting buckets of gunge, and turning compost heaps too. For my part, I would choose the latter; I like to see something visible achieved after all that effort.
I hope you noticed the small solar panel in the photo above; it powers the gate-motor.
A solar gate motor gives you a lot of protection against surges from lightning and mains; our built-in charger was blown and a dedicated PV turned out to be a much cheaper and more satisfactory option than having the device repaired.
The Great Depression occurred nearly a century ago after a great war followed by the Spanish flu pandemic. As I write in 2022 senior financial advisors like Jim O'Neill are talking about the third economic recession in three years. Could that be the harbinger of things to come?
The future is uncertain and I believe it's time to makes sure we are resilient should great hardship lie ahead. That means doing our own chores like cleaning the gutters and contemplating what we would do if retrenched; does pristine, free water without contaminants not seem attractive in any event?
Clean the gutters or your water will be tainted with organic matter. First it will start to smell and then stink; your showers will no longer be relaxing and very pleasant.
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