Richard Bell's Wild West Yorkshire nature diary, Saturday, 4th August, 2007

buttHERE’S A JOB that is simple enough but which I need to do a lot of thinking about if I’m not to end up with unforeseen problems and a sense of panic.

It seems strange to be thinking of water conservation after all the rain we’ve had this summer but the weather now looks more settled and I’m fitting a rain-trap to the shared drain-pipe between ourselves and next door (we live in a semi-detached), which I’m connecting to a slim-line Blackwall 100 litre mini-butt that we bought in a Yorkshire Water offer a year ago.

Bits & Pieces

We spend an hour or so at two of the big do-it-yourself stores in town choosing the few extra bits and pieces I’ll need. For example, I’ve got a 22 mm drill bit but the instructions specify 25 mm so to save a lot of filing and sanding I track down one of the right size (I realise writing this up later that the 1 inch drill bit I had in is 25 mm in metric! Wish they'd said '25 mm or one inch').drill bit

hacksawThen there’s the fiddly business of cutting into the drain-pipe precisely 10 mm below the level of the rim of the water butt. This neat little hacksaw, specially designed for working in awkward corners, is going to make the job so much easier than it would be with the plastic-handled stub of a hacksaw that I’ve made do with for years.

Cutting Remarks

All goes well until I come to insert the rain-trap. As the drain-pipe is fixed to the gutter at the top and concreted into the ground at the bottom there’s no play in it to open a gap sufficient to insert the device. I make a cut across the top length of drain-pipe, fit the trap then tape up the drain-pipe temporarily. I’ll have to go back to the store tomorrow for a suitable connector.

rainIt never rains . . .

I’m rather looking forward to the forecast rain on Monday and Tuesday to see how quickly this new butt fills up. It has half of the entire house roof and our neighbour’s new conservatory to draw on, so one real downpour should easily recharge it. If I’ve made the cut in just the right place, the rain-trap should then prevent excess water entering the butt and overflowing through the lid.

Yorkshire Water currently charge us £2.16p to supply and dispose of every 1,000 litres (cubic metre) that flows through our meter, so we’ll save 21 pence every time we use a butt-full on the garden. We’ll be rich. And think of the saving in the electricity that’s needed to pump the water to us from the reservoir up in the Pennines.

Saving a Penny



* Take care with sharp knives and never run with scissors!


Talking of saving water, here’s a tip I picked up on the latest series of It’s not Easy Being Green; a cut-off plastic water bottle in the toilet cistern (the bottle should be just below the water-level) could save you a litre or so every flush.

Sharp Practice

oil canWhile we were at the store I also had lubricating/rustproofing/cleaning oil on my list. The last can, which I bought when my bicycle was new, has lasted me about 25 years. I like the retro-styling of the new can. It probably looks more like the kind of tried and trusted product that you might have bought in post war years than the actual product did at the time. Yes, like that design. Now I know what to get my friends for Christmas. Only £1.48 and so useful!

long-handled secateursPresent use for the oil; to lubricate a boat-shaped carborundum stone that I’ve bought for sharpening curved blades, such as the secateurs and my garden knife. It works well and the knife now cuts cleanly through the side-shoots of tomatoes in the greenhouse that it would have torn through before.

peat-free compostPeat-Free

trowelI’ve had a kind of block about sowing seeds recently. I’ve got everything ready in the greenhouse but one thing that’s been putting me off is that the tail-end of our old bags of multi-purpose compost now looks tired and past its sell-by date. The older batch even has green algae growing on it. For sowing seed I can't easily use my own seived garden compost, which is fine for potting things up. The weed seeds in it would sprout before the veg seeds we're sowing. I have an old soil steriliser but that takes a bit of forward planning to use. Next year perhaps.

We get a small new bag of peat-free multi-purpose compost and, while I work on the rain-trap, Barbara sows spring cabbage (the slugs and snails annihilated our last sowing), corn salad (a new crop for us) and baby carrots, the latter in a 10 inch pot which we’re trying them in on the patio.