With the addition of guttering to the roofs of the buildings we’re renovating, it’s always been the intention to catch and store the rainwater runoff. It’s at this time of year, when the land is parched and the stream down to its bare minimum, that a few thousand litres can make all the difference. The east side of the quinta furthest from the stream suffers the most. Here it’s so dry it’s been pointless trying to establish new plantings or even dream of growing annuals without installing some sort of irrigation to support them. Long-term, the aim is to grow ground cover plants and shrubs that, over time, will increase the moisture holding capacity of the soil by adding organic material to it, and shading the soil from the harshest effects of the sun, but until we get to that point – and even when we do – water in the summer will be important.
While less than ideal from several perspectives, the quickest and cheapest solution to the water storage problem has been to purchase second-hand 1,000-litre plastic IBC tanks. By specifying non-toxic original contents, it’s possible to be reasonably confident you’re not going to compromise the health of your land with toxic residues, though ‘non-toxic’ can include some less than pleasant liquids. A supplier who jet-washes his tanks before selling them is consequently an advantage too. If you can obtain food grade tanks (moulded with a wineglass and fork symbol), better still.
So this is what we did. Amazingly, Lester managed to shoe-horn 6 of them into his van. They went in, but then they wouldn’t come out again. While the crowbar was tempting, we finally managed to extricate them by removing the cradle base of the one that was stuck.
For the primary storage area right next to the wee house, we cut into the bank running between the ground and first floor levels and levelled a site large enough to take 4 tanks.
Conveniently, just a few days after we completed this, it rained. Somewhere between 12-15mm at a guess – and the tanks collected around 500 litres. 12.5% of their capacity in one night. I think I’m going to have to install a lot more tanks.