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Way back in January, I found a pod of honey locust seeds (Gleditsia triacanthos) lying on the sidewalk as I was wandering around the neighbourhood, it having fallen off a nearby tree. I figured that by then it had been stratified enough, so I picked it up and brought it home. I planted six seeds in a small flat and placed them in a warm spot, but they never sprouted (they were fairly large; about the size of white beans). I essentially wrote them off and (months) later planted something else in the flat.

Fast forward to the end of August – two honey locust seedlings sprouted in the flat. I potted them up yesterday. Now I have to wonder what to do with them in future. Bonsai, probably.

My regional government (Peel Region) has been heavy-handedly encouraging people to disconnect their roof downspouts so they don’t lead into the storm sewers any more, and instead direct the rain directly into the garden. They (not wrongly) claim that it’s better for the water table, but I feel the real reason is so they can save money on the sewer infrastructure – upgrades for which they have initiated a tax based on roof size. Yes, folks, that’s right – they’re taxing us for the water load we create less of.

Anyway, one of my downspouts was already disconnected so I could use it for the rainbarrels, so I decided to formalise it by installing a diverter. This can be set to carry water from the downspout either to the barrel or to the garden. Theoretically, anyway. Overflow from the rainbarrels also goes into the garden.

I envy gardeners in Britain. I feel they have a better selection of better quality garden products at better prices. The only diverter I could find off-the-shelf here cost nearly $50.00 + tax and having installed it two rains ago, I am decidedly NOT impressed by it.

The brand is Fiskars – they create all sorts of garden tools, mostly of the sharp sort, as well as sewing equipment. The concept behind this diverter was good – the execution of the design is piss-poor. The inner piece that actually diverts the downcoming water doesn’t fit snugly enough, so a lot seeps through. That piece also features a sort of grid to filter debris, but the bars of the grid are so wide, the water just splashes off them instead of through, and is sent to the spout instead of the barrel.

Also, anyone who has played around with eavestroughs and downspouts knows that each piece should fit into (rather than over) the next (connectors, elbows, etc.), or water will leak through the joint. The lower end of this diverter is not sized to allow this, hence it must fit over the drain and water leaks out unless you use a sealant.

The net effect is that a lot of the water coming into the diverter is not sent to the barrels and instead goes down the spout – literally. I’d say half or more is lost this way – and in an area that experiences seasonal drought, every drop you can collect for future use is precious.

The reason why I wanted to try the diverter in the first place is because the rainbarrels cannot remain outside year-round. If there is water in them during winter, that water will freeze, expand as it does so, and crack the barrels. Having the diverter meant that snowmelt during warm spells, or rain when the barrels are not there, could be sent to the garden instead of the storm sewer (per city regulations). In the past, I would manually disconnect the downspout in spring and direct it to the barrels, then reverse the process in fall. The diverter was supposed to save me doing that.

I’m pretty disappointed in this diverter. I’ll try taking it apart and modifying it, probably by reshaping the internal piece and sealing it permanently in place to prevent the internal leakage. If that doesn’t help, I might just have to go back to manually switching twice a year, possibly with the flexible attachments.

Stick to cutting tools, Fiskars.

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