We had some visitors last week, and one asked about the rain tank near our garage. “What do you do with the water?”
As I showed him how I could open the valve on the tank and water all of my vegetables at once, I recognized that it was an efficient system. It was cheap, it relied on gravity (no pumps, no electricity), and all it took to operate was one turn of a valve.
I should show my setup to you too, I thought. So here it is:
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Have you tried the PC dripline yourself? I read that it may not actually be true, and that they may water more evenly even on gravity-fed. I’d be curious to know if anyone has tried. I assume that a normal 65 gal or whatever rain barrel has a lot less pressure than those big ones, and I keep going back and forth on whether it makes sense for me to get a couple. Monthly mosquito dunks, clearing out gutters, etc seems like a lot of work to then not have it rain all summer when I need the water. I hadn’t even thought about teeing off before all the drippers to add it as a second water source, that’s genius. I do have the CV dripline and PC emitters everywhere though.
I have tried it with some PC dripline but not all. I tried with Netafim Techline CV, for example, and there wasn’t enough pressure to open the emitters. I think they require about 15 PSI. With one brand of button emitters that were said to be PC, however, I noticed that they bled some water at lower pressure so you might be able to use those (Antelco brand).
As to whether the PC button emitters would water more evenly on low pressure, I’m going to have to test that with the Antelco ones I have. I’ll let you know what I find.
Thanks for the reply! I actually have CV techline too for my trees, and netafim PC emitters where I have emitters, so it sounds like it’s probably a no-go for me. I’m impressed you’re watering whole rows with gravity fed.
Hi Greg, I’ve been reading your posts for a few years and your advice has been invaluable for gardening in my zone 10 garden. Thank you!
How long can you keep water in a rain tank? Could I collect the water in the winter and save it for summer? Also, does the tank need to be cleaned out periodically? Thanks.
Thank you! I have a couple of tanks and I’ve used them in different ways over the years. My routine currently is to keep one tank full for the entire summer and only use the water in that tank in the fall just before the first rain is predicted to arrive. (I keep the water in the tank as a backup source in case there’s a problem with the district water.) I have seen no problem leaving the water in the tank like this for months. But my tanks are sealed well and not in full sun. That makes a difference in terms of mosquitoes and algae growth.
How often you need to clean a tank depends on how clean the water is when it enters and what you’re using the water for. Without going into details on that, I’ll just say that I only clean my tanks out once per year at the end of summer or early fall.
Hi Greg, thanks for showing your setup! I have a very similar gravity feed configuration at my house, but with one major difference: the reclaimed water and city water lines are strictly separate. In fact, I think this is a code requirement, to prevent unclean water from siphoning into the pipes in your home. (I also use purple pipe for my rain water distribution lines, to avoid accidentally connecting the two.) It’s kind of a pain, having to run two complete drip lines to all the zones, but it seems a lot safer to me.
Very cool! I’d love to see your setup.
There’s always a valve closed on one end of my system so there’s no potential for siphoning. If I’m running the rain tank, then the city tap’s valve is closed. If I’m running the city water, then the rain tank valve is closed.
My system is entirely separate as well. You can avoid water being drawn into the city system by using a backflow on that individual circuit or one at the city entrance in case both systems are open at the same time. Typically city systems are very heavily chlorinated as well, in case of accidental contamination.
Curious if you have a PC valve or something on the city side of the hook-up?
Are you wondering if I have something to reduce the pressure on the city side? I do. I either use a pressure regulator or I just keep the faucet open only about halfway.
I’m curious about something. My yard looks amazing right now and it’s a very strange time of year to look this way. Winter plants are growing out of control, the avocados, which I usually kill, seem to be quite happy with all of this rain, my tropicals in front, which are said to hate cold wet feet, are all doing very well, and the stone fruits, pomes, etc, wow. They’re setting fruit like I’ve never seen before. Here’s the question. Is it really that bad to over water in winter? I wonder if one were to over water in a dry winter if the results would be like this one? Thoughts?
Cool idea. My guess is that all of this rain and cold is a benefit to your place because you’re on a slope and your soil has good drainage, and most of your tropicals are in front of a south-facing wall which keeps them a bit warmer.
Today I visited a friend’s place in Point Loma where his bananas and avocados in front of the south wall of his house look really good.
But some places I’ve seen lately where the drainage is bad have puddles remaining for over a week after the last rain. That will suffocate the roots of some plants.
So I suppose it depends on the soil conditions and the heat factor in the microclimates of each yard.
Very good point on the drainage. I didn’t consider that, but it makes sense. there’s only a few places that stay muddy a few days after the rains, but the front drains like crazy, as does the slope in the rear.
I recently moved from a patio container garden to a small yard/garden that I have been watering with a hose. Between the normal outdoor watering rules in my city & the temporary watering ban in Los Angeles this past summer, and the massive amount of rain these past few weeks, I have been thinking it might be nice to buy some kind of slimline rain tank similar to the one in the photograph in your post. I noticed from my research that they are expensive and large to move around, so I’m a little unsure about it and would appreciate any advice you have. Specifically, are there any things that you would do differently if you were choosing a spot and installing a tank again? Are there any tank characteristics that were especially helpful or that turned out to not be practical? Would you consider installing a rain tank to be a project an amateur gardener would be able to pull off? Thanks