replacing IBC tote valve

My rainwater harvesting system includes 5 IBC (intermediate bulk container) totes, each with a 1,000 litre (280 gal) capacity.  It was inevitable that the valve at the bottom of one would misfunction - in this case a crack developed at the handle shaft housing and water came out steadily. This meant I had to study up on how to replace a tote valve.  The valve is removed by turning anti clockwise the ridges on the metal coupler shown below. There are ibc valve spanner wrenches Read more [...]

2 simple fixes

Hand tools I use several hand tools for my weeding and mulching operations.  They are easily misplaced in the high grass and surrounding weeds and not discovered until, accidentally, days later.  It occurred to me that a cause was their lack of distinctiveness (blame the tools not the workman).  Their handles are either natural wood color, yellow or, the logic for this beats me, green.  So, easily camouflaged.  The solution was a small pot of cherry red paint and now, with their distinctive Read more [...]

locating a buried 4″ drainage pipe

About 20 years ago I dug a 100 ft trench for a 4" drain pipe, which led from a concave area of the yard where the rainwater gathered, to a nearby creek.  Over the years I planted many trees and shrubs in this area.  The pipe worked well until the past few months when it completely ceased functioning.  With downpours seemingly more intense than ever, I decided I had to fix the problem. I have a 50 ft plumber's snake and I inserted it in the hole and it moved along easily for 45 ft and then hit Read more [...]

earthworks – terraces, contour ditches and tree trunks

My permaculture readings have focused me on developing an edible forest garden and earthworks figure prominently in my designs.  Although I already have a number of different fruit trees in my orchard I decided to expand the selection and expect, by the end of November, to receive 2 goumi, 2 pawpaw, 3 kiwi (2 female, 1 male), and a medlar, aronia, sour cherry, and juneberry.  With these pending arrivals I have been at work preparing their planting sites on the side of the hill. The earthworks Read more [...]

rainwater harvesting – vigilance needed

As a matter of principal (or is it pride) I try do all my irrigation with rainwater collected in storage tanks.  Total storage capacity exceeds 6k gallons.  The design is fairly simply - I collect directly into 3 large storage tanks and then pump to two temporary tanks at the top of the hill, from which the water gravity feeds to the watering areas (see tab at top of website for full details).  I also collect rainwater at two remote locations (the chicken coop and tractor building) and pump the Read more [...]

rainwater from coop roof

When I built the new coop in October last year I fitted  a gutter which directs rainwater to an adjacent 250 gallon storage tank.  My thought was to (a) collect all rainwater landing on impervious surfaces, and (b) use the water to irrigate a chicken food growing area.  To grow food for the chicken I would have to cordon off a growing area and maintain it with vegetables and irrigation, which involves extra work, so instead I now give them excess vegetables from the vegetable garden.  And the Read more [...]

water conservation – “Heart of Dryness”

I just read Heart of Dryness by James Workman about the plight of the Bushmen in the Kalahari desert when the Botswana government cut off their water supplies and how they adapted and how we can learn from them. I was interested in the book because I am originally from South Africa which abuts Botswana, and also here in Georgia we are engaged in legal water wars with neighboring states.  Workman interlaces the story of the Bushmen with a narrative on the use and abuse of water worldwide and his Read more [...]

rainwater harvesting – making every drop count

Blockages in the rainwater harvesting system With rainwater harvesting whatever can go wrong does.  After fall I cleared my gutter of leaf debris and left it at that.  Silly me!  I didn't consider that the 2" pipe from the downspout outlet to the storage tank might be clogged with leaves.  It was only when rainwater collection by the one tank was less than expected and when, during a downfall, I saw rainwater cascading over the gutter, that I figured I had a problem. Clearing the blockage Read more [...]