Tanking up

Last summer was a costly one for us, especially at Dreamland. We had a newly planted edible forest garden, with new grass and clover paths, and it was blazingly hot and dry. To top it all, we had suffered a lot of spillage from our Homeland tanks during the time we were away, and we had no access to the Dreamlands tanks yet. So we had to use town water, and a lot of it! Naturally, the first big project I embarked on when the Dreamland property became fully accessible was to install another big water tank.

Ideally I would have loved to install two tanks at Dreamland – that would have taken the water capacity to over 100kl, but there just wasn’t the space to fit it in without serious engineering works, like dismantling a shed or removing some useful vegetable beds. I couldn’t get exactly the same style of tank as we already have at Dreamland, so I just went for the biggest of the same colour that I could fit in the available space. This one is a bit higher than the existing tanks, so managing the input water is going to be fun, but we already do that at Homeland, so flipping a few more valves at the right times of the rainfall season is not a bad price to pay in order to get an extra 5000l of water.

I used a different tank supplier for the Homeland tanks, and they literally just dumped the tank on the lawn and left you to your own devices. I remember for the last big tank we had to use my trusty old xTrail to push and nudge the tank into place. The other tanks at Dreamland were supplied by Orchard tanks, so I thought I would give them a try this time, especially as they are a local company. At first I couldn’t get hold of them, as they had since moved, but some helpful people on the local community page put me in touch with them. My word, they were so efficient and helpful in getting the order placed! Not only did they do a lot of homework to find a suitable tank of the right height and diameter, but they also gave me so much advice on installing it. I was expecting a lead time of a month for delivery, but within 2 weeks I got the message that the delivery date was last Friday. So the prep-work had to be done very quickly.

First, as with any tank installation, we had to prepare the bed for the tank. This job would have been best done with a bobcat, but I prided myself on having done it manually and in the process saving quite a few hundred dollars. That already goes a little to pay for the tank – these things don’t come cheaply. Even though the bobcat would have taken much quicker, and saved a few litres of sweat in the process, the time it would have taken to fetch it and take it back would almost have balanced out.

Tank - prep

Site prep

All three our big tanks (24 000l each) over at Homeland were just installed flat on the clay soil, but this time Kevin from Orchard tanks insisted we install it on a bed of crusher dust. So this had to be carted in too. Fortunately we have Elcho garden supplies right here in town which does deliveries almost to the minute when you want them. With a lot going on as we’re expecting long term visitors, their timeliness made it really convenient. Unfortunately the driver couldn’t back the truck over Gaë’s old vegetable beds (I don’t blame him for not wanting to try) so it had to be carted in by wheelbarrow. It’s torture moving that heavy dust just a few meters!

Tank - torture

Torture material front, torture instrument middle and torture destination back

Anyway the tank bed was prepared a few days before the delivery date.

Tank - area ready

Bed prepped

As it always happens, there is always one or more little side projects… this time we had to trim the cedars where the tank was to be placed. And of course, if you do the trouble to lug the chainsaw across to the other property, you might as well trim all the cedars. This in turn will allow more sun to shine on the avocados on the Homeland side of the fence, while still providing a good windbreak. Win-win I think they call it. Now I’ve got a whole heap of cedar branches – an interesting resource, but more about that in a later post.

Tank - cedars

Trimming cedars

So delivery day dawned cold and windy. I called Mitchell, the driver from Polymaster Tanks who was delivering the tanks. He told me it was so windy, he was battling to keep the truck on the road. We were last in line, so he reckoned we’ll be on at about 5:00, if he even makes it to us. This was a bit of a problem as we had a very important appointment just after 5 (more about that later too!) Anyway, it was a quiet day at home with no distractions, so I jumped in to get the next project done on the opposite side of the property. I kept my phone with me, just in case they phoned. By about 3:30 my phone was flat, so I walked back to Homeland to get a cable to charge it off my trusty yellow music player. When I came back I heard this faint but deep dum-dum sound. So in the time I walked back and forth they had arrived and had offloaded the tank on its side. It was massive! So it was Kevin from Orchard tanks, who had driven all the way out from Leopold (a good 40 mins away), Mitchell from Poly Master Tanks and me who had to get it in place, which included rolling it over Gaë’s old vegetable beds and putting it upright. It seemed impossible.

Unfortunately it all went so fast and I was too involved to take any photos, but it basically went like this… Kevin just naturally took over. He asked Mitch to hold the tank in place and he looked around. He asked me, can we use the two wheelie bins which were hanging around as if for some unseen purpose. I couldn’t comprehend what he was on to, but said sure we can. In the back of my mind I was calculating the tank weight and the wheelie bin strength. Oh well, they’re not too hard to replace I still thought. So Kevin laid the two wheelie bins on their sides, sloped up against vegetable beds, the smaller one closer to the eventual tank location. “OK boys, push!” So while pushing, Kevin guided the tank over the beds and its top end onto the wheelie bins. It was magical to see, as we were pushing, the tank slowly starting heeling over to the bottom side, and in slow motion toppled over and landed with a booming thud right on the prepped base area. So Kevin had created the perfect ramp and put it at exactly the right place to have that massive behemoth fall perfectly in place. Then he thanked Mitchell for his amazing delivery and sent him off.

Next Kevin asked me if I was happy with the placement. I was so flabbergasted I just mumbled yes. So then he started discussing where the outlet tap should be. So unlike other suppliers, they don’t order the tanks with the outlets pre-built in. They actually install them on-site exactly where you need them. He gave me some good advice to have it out of the way, where no-one will accidently knock the lever open or step on the down-pipe. During those discussions I realised it would be nice if the tank was another 6 inches to the right. So I asked Kevin if we could do that, secretly wondering how the heck we were going to move it. This tank was bigger than the Homeland tanks and we battled to move those ones with the xTrail. Again Kevin nonchalantly looked around, grabbed a big brick here, a sturdy old fence post there and a massive metal rod (all purposefully lying around of course) and using an incredible wedging action, he “rowed” the tank in place. He quickly installed the outlet valve and in a flash was off. I needed a reducing elbow, and luckily Country Link Supplies right in our town had all the necessary parts, which saved me a long drive to the green shed. Within half an hour it was all connected, the valves on the other tanks were opened and I could hear the sweet sound of water filling up the base before any gust of wind could try and move it.

Tank - in sun

Polymaster 31700 liters – a thing of beauty for any watersaver

I wish I had a video or had taken photos of the whole process – Kevin is truly amazing – he’s obviously done it a few times before, but he also knows how to make a plan using whatever resources are around. Theirs was by far the best tank-related service I have ever seen or heard of. Other suppliers just dump the thing as close as they can get it and leave you with it. So with great service from Kevin and Susan at Orchard Tanks and Mitchell from Polymaster Tanks, we will now hopefully have 31 700l more water for our dry summer. So at Dreamland we are now on 97kl of tank water if it all fills up before summer. What a blissful sound it was as it started raining that evening as I put the chooks away! (We’ve had 6mm over the weekend.)

Tank - backdrop

In place and filling

About martin@muchmoremulch.blog (174 Articles)
My name is Martin Rennhackkamp, I now live happily in Lara, Victoria, Australia with my wife, two children and two dogs. My interests, apart from the obvious Organic, Biodynamic and Permaculture Gardening and Farming, include sustainable living, surfing, horse-riding, a wide variety of music, dancing, nature, birds, reading, Christianity and a few other things which I never get to...

1 Comment on Tanking up

  1. The miracle of water from the sky! At least that’s one thing I don’t have a shortage of (yet!)

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