With the growing season coming to an end it's time to get your rain barrels ready for winter. With all the wonderful fall rains, most of us have totally full rain barrels and the thought of emptying them seems a shame. But for those of us who have been too late in doing so in the past and have found our barrels totally frozen, it just has to be done.
So hook up the hose and drain the water this week, send it out to the shade trees and shrubs, berry bushes and fruit trees that could use a final drink before going dormant over the winter. Have two barrels? Take one inside and fill it from the other one for your house plants over the winter.
Once they're empty clean them up for spring. An old rag mop works great to go around the inside and remove the layer of silt that has built up. It's much easier to do it now while it's wet than let it sit over the winter. They are also a great place to store your hoses and soaker hoses over the winter.
For storage over the winter, remember they will survive outside in the Iowa weather as long as they are completely empty and don't get dropped or banged around. Leave them behind the garage on their sides, lay them down next to their stand, put them in a garage or shed or take them to the basement. They'll be ready for the next season and you can get them out again when you are sure that they won't freeze, think April showers.