Saturday, August 25, 2012

Want to calculate how much water you can capture?

I have a post from April 10, 2010 about how to install rain barrels and harvest the water and another April 12, 2010 about how to build a rain barrel.. A reader posted this link, which I never saw until now. It is very cool to get an idea how much water can be harvested if you have the set-up to do it.  Thank you Raindrops Cisterns!

Statistics generated in reference to NOAA calculations for average rainfall per year.

This is the link where they have the calculator - just put in your zip code and the square footage of your roof and you get the gallon figure!!!  Wow!!!
This is what I got:
Rainwater Harvesting Calculator
How much rainfall can I harvest in a year?
You could harvest up to 23,976 gallons of rainwater per year!
= 11,988 Toilet Flushes
= 599 Laundry Loads
Results based on NOAA calculations of average annual rainfall for California, 1971-2000

Calculating the appropriate size
Rule number one!
Shoot for 1000 gallons and go from there. 1000 gallons on a 1000 to 3000 square foot house is a nice starting point and will supplement your existing water use quite nicely. Supplementing is the key word. It is not always practical to depend 100% on rainwater, but it is always practical to supplement potable water with rainwater.


square footage of roof area   X .6   =  gallons per 1 inch of rain.
gallons per 1 inch of rain   X .average inches rain per month   =  amount available for collection


Square footage of roof area (length x width) 1800 sq. ft
1800 x .6 = 1080 gallons
Average inches rain per month in most of Florida is 3 inches – this does not include June, July, August and September which are about double that.
1080 gallons x 3 = 3240 gallons collected
Let us assume 2 people live in this home. With each person using 69 gallons of water per day (this is average), that is 138 gallons per day or 966 gallons per week and 3864 gallons per month.
Considering the frequency of rain, a 1000 gallon to 2000 gallon storage capacity would be a good fit for this home.

Here’s how it breaks down:

Daily indoor per capita water use in the typical single family home is 69.3 gallons.
Use Gal per Capita  % Total Daily Use 
Showers 11.6 16.8%
Clothes Washers 15.0 21.7%
Dishwashers 1.0 1.4%
Toilets 18.5 26.7%
Baths 1.2 1.7%
Leaks 9.5 13.7%
Faucets 10.9 15.7%
Other Domestic Uses 1.6 2.2%

By installing more efficient water fixtures and regularly checking for leaks, households can reduce daily per capita water use by about 35% to about 45.2 gallons per day Here is how it breaks down for households using conservation measures:

Use Gal Per Capita % Total Daily Use 
Showers 8.8 19.5%
Clothes Washers 10.0 22.1%
Dishwashers 0.7 1.5%
Toilets 8.2 18.0%
Baths 1.2 2.7%
Leaks 4.0 8.8%
Faucets 10.8 23.9%
Other Domestic Uses 1.6 3.4%

Considering the above figures, with efficient fixtures and a collection system capable of supplementing your water needs, you can make a significant impact on the environment and your pocketbook too!

What is rainwater harvesting?

Rainwater harvesting is the collection, storage and distribution of rainwater from the roof for use inside and outside the home, farm or business. Also known as cisterns.

Why we harvest rainwater.

  1. Increasing water usage as population continues to grow.
  2. Climate change.
  3. Storm water run off damages the environment.
  4. Increasing the storm water infrastructure cost taxpayers millions.
  5. Increase property value.
  6. Save potable water for drinking.

The Benefits are endless.

  1. Start harvesting water now! Rainwater reduces water usage in every home. Installing a system you will start saving water immediately.
  2. Rainwater is naturally pure and fresh. It is not recycled water!
  3. Research supports rainwater can meet all household requirements.
  4. Significant cost savings for the community and each household. When you consider the total cost to the community, it makes sense to install a system to catch rainwater that falls for free from the sky and utilize it in and around the home.
  5. Lower overall water usage. People that collect and use their own rainwater become more aware of their water use and further reduce their overall water use.
  6. Lower energy consumption and green house gas emissions. There are significant cost to treat and pump mains water throughout the community. Widespread installation of collection systems result in reduced energy consumption and less greenhouse gas emissions. Rainwater is an ideal water source for 95% of our requirements.
  7. Protect local waterways, bays, estuaries and reduce storm water infrastructure cost. Harvesting reduces both the volume and velocity of storm water run off.

What is that green stuff on tomato plants?

Sept. 29, 2010
By Lynn Byczynski

What is the greenish-yellow powder you get all over your hands and arms when you pick tomatoes?

For the past two summers, this question has been bothering me. But I couldn't find anyone who seemed to know. I asked numerous friends in the biology and horticulture fields, and even several tomato breeders. Most people said "isn't it pollen?" But clearly it isn't coming from tomato flowers — it's all over the plant, on the leaves and stems. One grower called it chlorophyl. Another called it "tomato tar" because it turns black if you don't wash it off quickly enough.

An interesting characteristic of this substance is how hard it is to get it off your skin. You lather up with soap and water and the suds turn green. Rinse, and lather again, and the suds still turn green. You can wash your hands four or five times and the stuff just keeps coming off. It explains why all your towels and t-shirts get green stains in summer — no matter how many times you wash, there's still some left behind on your skin.

Finally, the mystery of the tomato stuff was revealed. Chris Wien, a horticulture professor at Cornell University, had sent me some information about high tunnel tomato production for an article I was writing for Growing for Market. I emailed to thank him then added, "By the way, do you know the technical term for the greenish yellow powder you get all over your hands when you pick tomatoes?"

Chris emailed right back. "Yes, the green substance is a number of chemicals that are released from hairs situated on the surface of tomato leaves, stems and fruits.  Under a microscope, these look like miniature water towers, and the compounds are inside these glands.  Some of the compounds are called 'acyl sugars'."

Finally, I had the right words to Google it with. When I did, I was plunged into the totally unfamiliar world of plant metabolism research.

A few hours later, staggering from one barely comprehensible scientific paper to another, I landed on the website of the Solanum Trichome Project, a collaborative genomics project between the University of Arizona, University of Michigan, and Michigan State. That's where I found this beautiful illustration above (by Chris Smith of fivethirtythree studios) of the little hairs that secrete the green stuff that gets all over your skin.

Solanum trichome illustration

And where I learned, in plain English, the meaning and importance of that substance. Here it is, in a nutshell:
The little hairs that cover tomato leaves are technically known as secretory and glandular trichomes (SGTs). About one-third of all the vascular plant species have SGTs. They secrete various secondary metabolites -- that is, substances that aren't used for the growth or reproduction of the plant but have some other function. SGTs contain the essential oils that give herbs their fragrance and flavor. In tomatoes, they produce acyl sugars, terpenoids, and flavonoids.  Acyl sugars are lipids (fats) that are greasy to the touch, insoluble in water and soluble in alcohol. That's why they're so hard to wash off your skin. Terpenoids release the familiar tomato scent when you brush against the plant. Flavonoids are the substances in plants that are getting all the attention for their role in preventing cancer and cardiovascular disease.

These substances are thought to protect plants against environmental assaults including insect attacks, foliar diseases, extreme heat and excessive light. They are of great interest to plant breeders, who hope to use them to develop varieties resistant to late blight, early blight, Septoria leaf spot and other diseases. There is also some research into increasing insect resistance. "Some wild tomato lines from South America have different acyl sugars than the domestic tomatoes, and by crossing them, the breeders can select for compounds that ward off insects," Dr. Wien said.  "Unfortunately, these compounds also give the plants a 'wet dog' smell, so may take some getting used to."

So now I know. The green stuff serves a very good purpose, from the point of view of the tomato plant. And that makes me more kindly disposed to the green stains on my towels and t-shirts in summer.

Lynn Byczynski is the editor and publisher of Growing for Market, a magazine for direct-market farmers.