What would you do if you needed to leave home long enough to turn off your water and power, but you still wanted to keep your garden growing while you were gone? If you were Gary Lee of Edenton, North Carolina, you would design your very own solar rainwater harvesting irrigation system, then turn around and make it available to the public.

The patent-pending Garden Sitter system is a self contained solar powered, programmable rain barrel irrigation system designed to “babysit” your garden while you’re away, for weeks or even months at a time.  It makes use of a 5 watt solar panel mounted in a sturdy box constructed of North Carolina cypress, as well as  is a 7 amp charge controller and battery; LED lights offer the system’s charging status at a glance.

Garden Sitter rain barrels
image via Garden Sitter

The Garden Sitter is a twin barrel system with a 2600 gallon capacity that can be used throughout the entire growing season–spring through fall–saving an estimated 5000 gallons a year. The system is designed to hook up to an an existing irrigation system, and works with a traditional programmable timer.

Garden Sitter solar panel
image via Garden Sitter

According to The Daily Advance of Elizabeth City, Lee was as concerned about aesthetics as he was about functionality in designing this system, so he took care to make each component as complementary as possible to the average residential landscape. Rain barrels were designed to blend into the surrounding environment, and the box that houses the solar power system was even created to resemble a bird-house, complete with hole.

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