Super-sized (recycled) water butts

21 May 2013

I said in the last blog that I’d tell you about our VERY large water butts. These are plastic vats, which are used to ship liquids like orange juice from the countries where they are produced to here. They are not re-used  for the same purpose (boo!) but some enterprising souls have been realising that they have alternative uses and buying them up to re-sell: they are popular with farmers, and have also been used for very large floats by fishermen, apparently. Any sort of rain saving is good, but if we have a dry spell, you need a serious amount of water storage to see you through.

To give you an idea of size, the “normal” water butt is about 3′ (1m) high and contains around 45 gallons (200l). The orange juice vats are 6′ (2m) high and hold about 330 gallons (1520l). At that rate, you’d think they’d dominate the garden, but with careful screening that isn’t necessarily the case: we’ve got one just inside the back gate, which everybody walks by without realising it’s there.  We put it in at the same time as re-modelling the gate area – see the photos below.

Left: the butt ready to go in. Centre: the butt in place. Right: the butt disguised by green-painted trellis.

Left: the butt ready to go in. Centre: the butt in place. Right: the butt disguised by green-painted trellis.

Part of our ability to hide it very quickly was that there was a large rambling rose just to the side of where it was to go, which I insisted was not to be removed or cut down while the wooden pergola was being errected (you can see some of the pergola in the left-hand photo). I supect the poor workmen doing the job cursed me up hill and down dale as they battled with the very thorny stems, but it worked, as you can see from the right hand photo. I did have a couple of lovely shrubs called coronilla covering the foot of the trellis, but lost them the winter before last, so am still looking for something to go there permanently, but last year grew a climber called asarina up it.

This butt catches the rainwater off one side of the garage roof, and we’ve got a second one which catches the flow the other side, which is particularly useful for topping up the pond in the summer. I have got smaller butts, catching the rainwater off the top greenhouse, which are tremendously useful for odd bits of watering as needed. It is possible to link several small butts together, so you can store more water.

Left: butt once rose and clematis had grown over. Right: butt last year with asarina growing up the trellis.

Left: butt once rose and clematis had grown over. Right: butt last year with asarina growing up the trellis.

Looking on the Internet tonight, it seems these recycled vats are no longer so easy to get, though it’s not impossible., and they aren’t cheap, but they do a great job, and it’s good to re-use something. Remember, recycling is good, but the best option of all is to reduce consumption, the second is to re-use any item as it is, and the third is to recycle: i.e. re-use the item after it has been re-manufactured in some way – we’ve only got one planet, let’s work to keep it.

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