Along about May, my first year of owning a rain barrel (sent to me by Fiskars for trial), I noticed an extremely foul smell when I filled my watering can. I was afraid something had drowned in the barrel; it smelled that bad. Being the squeamish type, I asked my husband to remove the lid and check it out. To my relief, the only thing dead inside was pollen. It had turned the fresh rainwater putrid.
Pollen probably doesn’t coat the springtime tables, chairs, and plants in most parts of the country. Here in South Carolina, we suffer through a week, sometimes more, of pine pollen so thick in the air that sometimes it turns our whole world hazy. This is the pollen that washes into rain barrels, becomes a swollen mass, and rots. So cleaning out the rain barrel is a very necessary chore here in high pollen country.
That chore was eliminated this year for me. Last fall, we had covered gutters (LeafGuard seamless gutters) installed on our two-story house. They have kept my husband off a high ladder and pollen out of my rain barrel. Hallelujah!
If you own a rain barrel, it still would be a sound practice to empty and clean it with a spray from the hose every spring. Your gutter can deliver more than fresh water, so keep the barrels clean and the water free flowing.