Collecting Rain Water

On our site we do have mains tap water, but self sufficiency with water (or as close as we can be) is one of our ultimate aims. Over the years we have built up our capacity for water storage. We are now set up to collect up to about 6000L of water. Here we discuss the different ways we collect water on the plot.

Where possible we try not to water plants outside on the plot. Recently, we have had a long dry spell in May-June which does introduce some challenges. Plants that have been recently transplanted or sown directly from seed usually do need some additional water as they have not yet developed large enough root systems themselves to source it from underground. Our winter collections of water can serve this purpose. Once we get through to the end of July we are usually having plenty of top up rain in Manchester!

Outside this period our main water usage is for undercover space and with the recent addition of the summerhouse this demand will significantly increase.

IBC storage containers can often be found cheaply second hand. Local selling sites often list these at between £20-£50. When purchasing an IBC it is important to check what it contained and ensure it is safe for water storage. IBC containers will come with a sticker that identifies the contents and google usually gives you a clear answer on the specifics. We have yet to connect up the 3rd tank to the polytunnel. We plan to use guttering and some of the excess polytunnel plastic to divert the water as the curved structure of the polytunnel does back this more complicated. Guttering is very simple to attach to the roofs of any buildings.

Remember collecting water off a structure such as a shed, polytunnel or greenhouse also means it prevents this diverted water causing boggy patches on your ground in very wet periods.

We use free standing water butts. These are open to catch water, but it is easy to use a bucket or watering can to move water into these as the collection from the large structures starts to overfill. Being able to dip a watering can makes watering more time efficient.

Off one side of the shed we collect straight into an open water butt. One disadvantage of open butts is that they can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes. We find if you are using these regularly and they are kept clean and continously refilling this doesn’t become too much of a problem. Stagnant water is an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes. Another consideration is that animals attempting to drink from the butts like birds or squirrels could drown in an open butt. Covering with some wire mesh will prevent this.

The pergola roof collects into a smaller container. The smaller butt is a little more discreet. This is right infront of our summerhouse and this size doesn’t block the view of the plot from our sofa! (LOL). This butt is used to water the hanging baskets that surround the pergola so it is used regularly and then re-fills even in a small shower.

Down the other side of the summerhouse we will be connecting guttering to these wheely bins. Our local council offers wheely bins with broken wheels for collection. They make superb water butts as they have a large capacity and a lid. These 2 butts are nearly full by decanting from other water sources, but in the spring we will use a similar method of using the polytunnel plastic to divert water into the guttering.