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Rain Barrels, Composters Help the Environment

These gardening accessories can help reduce pollution in the Severn and Magothy river watersheds.

Each year, Earth Day reminds us of the impact our day-to-day living has upon the environment. Hopefully, those of you who attended the ninth annual Earth Day Festival, hosted by the Greater Severna Park Watershed Action Group at , came away from the event with a desire to help reduce pollution around your homes and neighborhoods.

A number of people took advantage of the opportunity to purchase rain barrels and composters at our local Earth Day event. Both products offer homeowners easy, practical ways to reduce pollution and improve our environment.

Once the initial excitement of celebrating Earth Day has died down, don’t forget to install and use your new rain barrel or your composter. Neither item does the environment much good if it is left sitting in the garage or backyard without being put to use.

Fortunately, installing and using a rain barrel or composter is not “rocket science.” Trust me, I know from my own experience. This is definitely one of those “if I can do it, you can do it” scenarios.

Rain barrels can be easily installed by following the instructions at the bottom of the page on rainscaping.org. Using a rain barrel helps the reduce pollution by capturing the initial flush of rain water that comes off a roof when it rains. According to rainscaping.org, the water trapped in a rain barrel will contain most of the contaminates that were on the surface of the roof.

Attaching a soaker hose to a rain barrel will provide water for a garden and reduce the amount of stormwater runoff from a yard while microorganisms in the soil break down contaminates in the rain water.

The Earth Machine composter that was on display at the Severna Park Earth Day Festival was available for pre-order from the Greater Severna Park Watershed Action Group. This unit provides homeowners a way to benefit the environment by making valuable compost from kitchen scraps and yard waste to improve the soil in gardens or lawns.

Whether you use the Earth Machine or one of the free compost bins offered by Anne Arundel County Department of Public Works, remember successful composting requires that organic material in the composter be aerated by turning it once a week to help ensure proper decomposition. If you did not purchase or own the turning device, then use that old 7-iron golf club collecting dust in the basement to do the job.

The University of Maryland Home and Garden Information Center provides lots of good “how to” information about composting for both novice and experienced gardeners.

Please remember to use the knowledge you gained from the Earth Day Festival around your home every day. Using rain barrels and composting are two simple, yet effective, ways for homeowners to help reduce pollution and improve environment in the Severn and Magothy river watersheds.

Susan Howes Galuski May 04, 2012 at 11:57 AM
I am very interested in learning how to most economically get a rain barrel and make it slowly empty onto my veggie garden. Please share ideas.
John Dawson May 07, 2012 at 10:21 AM
Susan, thank you for your comment. Attaching a soaker hose to your rain barrel will allow water to slowly flow into your garden. I have had good success with a nylon mesh soaker hose which works well with the low water pressure from my rain barrel.
Fredric Nalle December 07, 2012 at 07:12 AM
It seems like rain barrels are really catching on. Some people even gave it a trendy and environmental name: rainwater harvesting. Can anyone recommend a good rain barrel supplier in Pennsylvania? My mother lives in PA and she has been telling me that she is keen to get one. The problem is that it would be difficult for her to install the rain barrel on her own. Are there some kind of environmental consultants in PA whom she can engage (not those big companies that help other companies, but individuals who help consumers)? - http://www.bstiweb.com

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