Storing water

Kuri and Kona
Kuri and Kona Posts: 177 ✭✭✭

I am not sure if this is the right category.

I live on the first floor of an apartment in the inner city. I do have a small garden. Every year, we get a month of solid rain, followed by several months of high heat and (mostly) dry weather. So my garden suffers from rainy season, and then it is a struggle every day during the summer to keep it properly hydrated.

I would love to be able to store some of the abundant rain water that we get during rainy season to use during our dry months in the garden.

I could just put out buckets or containers, but then, how would I store the water in my apartment? If possible, I do not want to buy a water storage tank, because there is no room in my garden, and they are quite expensive.

If enough water could be stored, that would really cut down on the cost of watering the garden in the summer.

Any advice is appreciated!


  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,375 admin

    @Kuri and Kona I did think about this when you mentioned such a sharp contrast in your seasons. My first thought was a water storage tank.

    I think storing the water in your apartment could cause mold issues, depending on how you would store it, and water does tend to take up a lot of space if you store it indoors.

    We store drinking water from a spring in (unfortunately) safe...water pails with lids. We do find that since it is "living" water, we do get green or brown algae growing on the inside sometimes, especially if sunlight hits the pails. It hasn't harmed us. I believe it actually keeps the water cleaner and helps it not go stale. This is used as my indoor plant water as well.

    We can keep 17 - 3 1/2 to 4 gallon pails in a fairly small space because they do stack well. We stack it up to 6 high. Once emptied, they can be washed, completely dried, and nest in each other to take less space.

    I don't know how long this would last for you, if you are watering a garden, but we use approximately just under 1 pail/day for our consumption (cooking, drinking). My indoor plants take 1 - 3 gal. pail 1 to 3 times per week depending on the season & humidity.

    You will want something in your garden that helps conserve the water you use as well. You don't want to lose any to evaporation if you are trying to depend upon stored water.

    Have you tried Ollas? If you can't buy any, or find something similar in your stores (perhaps something is available for in-ground fermenting?) you can make substitutes. This link will bring you to the discussion.

  • marjstratton
    marjstratton Posts: 1,132 ✭✭✭✭

    You could also use your grey water. When you are adjusting the temperature your water for a drink put a bucket in the sink and use that water for your plants. It isn't much, but it can help. I do it mostly for my house plants, especially in warm weather.

  • jowitt.europe
    jowitt.europe Posts: 1,413 admin

    @Kuri and Kona we have very dry springs and sometimes very hot summers, so we installed an underground rain water tank containing 4000 lites. It collects water from the roof. We had a very simple system made: an opening in a rain water pipe which we open or close manually. I open it when it rains and the rain fills the tank very quickly as the pipe collects water from the whole roof. Of course, putting the tank underground costs money and effort. Now, when I think, I should have installed a 6000 liter tank. But, so far, I had to use drinking water for watering the garden only once.

  • Kuri and Kona
    Kuri and Kona Posts: 177 ✭✭✭

    @jowitt.europe That is a nice setup that you have there. I don`t think my landlord would let me do something similiar, though. Although I live in an apartment, it is only two floors (and my floor only has three units.) I am allowed to have my garden and compost pile in the garden, but I think having something like you have would be pushing it, unfortuatley...

    I was thinking of eventually getting something like this.

    Amazon | 安全興業 雨水タンク 茶 ×1 | 貯水タンク

  • Kuri and Kona
    Kuri and Kona Posts: 177 ✭✭✭

    @LaurieLovesLearning That is a wonderful idea about the olla. I can`t find anything similar online here, but I did find a number of articles explaining the principle (and checked the forum link you shared.) I think I am going to try to DIY something. Also, I already have two big compost buckets for my bokashi compost. (fermenting compost with rice bran.) Both buckets have spickets on them to let out liquid. Maybe I could move the compost out, and repurpose the bucket for saving water. Thank you for all of the ideas!

    @marjstratton You`re right; saving gray water is always a good idea.

  • jowitt.europe
    jowitt.europe Posts: 1,413 admin

    @Kuri and Kona we also have a simpler version. Just a water tank under an opening in the rain water pipe. The disadvantage is that you have to carry water instead of watering with a hose

  • Kuri and Kona
    Kuri and Kona Posts: 177 ✭✭✭

    @jowitt.europe I don`t have a hose now, so that is no problem. I think just as a cultural difference, my apartment here in Japan does not have the rain pipe under the gutter like you have there in the picture. I think the gutters are all in places that are off of my property.

    My current thought is to get some wide bucket like things, and then look into a DIY olla, like Laurie suggested.

  • jowitt.europe
    jowitt.europe Posts: 1,413 admin

    @Kuri and Kona one more possibility is a greenhouse with the rain collecting system from the roof. But you might be not allowed to put a greenhouse on the property.

    this simple system collects enough water to water the greenhouse throughout the growing system. I have containers on both sides.

  • Hassena
    Hassena Posts: 345 ✭✭✭

    Hi, you may just leave out buckets, let them fill up with rain water. At least you'd have water for a few days....?

    Or consider a wicking bed to conserve water. They are used much in places of droughts.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,920 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Would you be able to keep a few large trash cans in the yard? It wouldn't be enough to store months of water, but every little bit is a benefit.

    If you do this, I suggest plastic trash cans, preferably the square type on wheels. You won't be able to wheel them around when completely full of water, but the wheels will be useful when only partially full.

    It's very challenging when you don't own property, or "own" property with a homeowners association telling you what you can't do.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,920 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @jowitt.europe I've seriously considered modifying my gutter drain system to fill a large plastic garbage can supported on cinder blocks to give it some gravity pressure. A hose fitting could be epoxied at the bottom.

    So far I haven't been able to justify the effort.

    This wouldn't store a huge amount of water, but I live in a pretty wet climate. What is considered a drought here would be an unusually wet summer in California. :-)

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,535 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Olla's work great and you can make your own from two terra cotta pots. Hopefully you can find them at a garage sale and save money!~

    Using grey water is also a great idea.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,518 admin

    @Kuri and Kona How big is the space that you have for your garden?

  • dipat2005
    dipat2005 Posts: 1,226 ✭✭✭✭

    I made the mistake one time of rinsing and cleaning out water jugs for holding water. After two years they do lose there shape and leak. Other people where I live have stored water in soft drink (but it is plastic) containers.

  • gardneto76
    gardneto76 Posts: 528 ✭✭✭✭

    I live in a very dry area and we use wicking beds. It is great for those weeks we are over 100* and have gone months without rain. I have heard there are ways you can dig out and prepare the garden area to help retain water. I forget what it is called right now, but I know it is done a lot in dry areas. We also try to catch any rain we can and use that in the gardens. It will evaporate quickly if it doesn’t have a lid. I would start to save any containers you could use to hold some of the water in and stash them away. Having visited Japan, I know the containers your food and drinks come in are different than we have in the US.

  • Kuri and Kona
    Kuri and Kona Posts: 177 ✭✭✭

    @jowitt.europe Sorry that I seem to be negating all of your suggestions. I think that you have some great ideas! Due to space, I think that a green house of any size would take up the whole plot; it really isn`t that big. However, I do feel inspired that next season, I am really going to think about how to use the small amount of space that I have, and perhaps dramatically change the layout.

    @Hassena I had never heard of a wicking bed. Thank you for this new idea!

    @VermontCathy I think large trash cans would work, although I don`t know if such things are available in Japan (the trash system is completley different, and nobody has a large toter outside for curb side garbage pickup. ( However, a large container of some sort would work the same.

    @Monek Marie We don`t have garage sales in Japan, but there is a Japanese site called jimoti that is sort of like craig`s list; maybe I could find something there.

  • Kuri and Kona
    Kuri and Kona Posts: 177 ✭✭✭

    @torey It is not that big, but I have no idea how many feet/ meters it is. I took pictures from different angles as I walked around to try to show the scale. But I think that the pictures overlap each other and are confusing to understand, so please don`t think about it very much. Maybe these pictures will give you a bit of an idea of how big it is.

  • jowitt.europe
    jowitt.europe Posts: 1,413 admin

    @Kuri and Kona oh, no problem at all! This how ideas develop. One sees all kinds of examples and develops one’s own ideas that are most suitable for what one has. The photos show that there is potential in making the space into a cute garden. May be in different levels: something hanging, something on the shelves, something on the ground. Some bigger plant in the middle casting shade or some winding plants forming kind of a shelter....

  • Kuri and Kona
    Kuri and Kona Posts: 177 ✭✭✭
    edited April 2022

    @jowitt.europe Yes, I am definitely hoping to do something with hanging or vertical. I think going up will make the most of my limited space. Rather than many, many small pots on the ground level, I would like to get more intentional with where different plants live.