I’ve been looking to improve my rainwater collection system for a while now and I thought I can’t go into another winter without a longer term solution.
Yes we have a few tanks around the place and they work just fine but they tend to fill up fairly quickly which means our capacity is limited.
While I was doing my research I came across a few videos on where other gardeners use huge white plastic containers in a metal cage for collecting rainwater. I’ve since found out they are called Totes although I think there is another name for them.
We put the word out and my brother in law who works on a farm came good! He told me they they were selling off a couple of second hand totes and was I interested. Oh yes!
They arrived last weekend and they are perfect for collecting rainwater. I gave them a good wash out with a little general household detergent to remove any lingering fluids and they were as good as new!
I’d read somewhere its a good idea to either paint them black or cover them in black plastic to stop the sun from turning the water green. So off to YouTube I went to see if anyone had done the same thing and I found a guy in the US called LDSPrepper who has a series of videos explaining in great detail how to prepare a tote for rainwater collection.
Huge thanks to LDSPrepper for such an insightful set of videos.
Basically you remove the plastic bin from the cage and wrap it up like a Christmas present.
I bought black plastic damp proof membrane from my local building suppliers which comes in a long roll. I’d used it before and I know it’s really strong and it should last.
The totes we used measure 48 inches by 40 inches by 40 inches. To cover a single tote you’ll need a sheet of plastic 14 feet long by 10 feet wide.
Wrapping totes in this way is not difficult but if you’re thinking of having a go ask a friend or partner to help as two people make light work of it. Also invest in some strong adhesive tape. I bought some black Gorilla tape which I found at my local DIY store. Not cheap at £6 a roll but really good stuff.
Begin by turning the tote upside down making sure the tap is at the top. Also remove the filler cap before you start or you’ll struggle to get it off later. Turning the tote upside down ensures when you seal the joints and turn the tote up the right way up any rainwater will run down the sides and not collect in the folds
Lay down the plastic sheet and position the tote in the middle. Next lift the back half of the plastic over the back half of the tote and align at the half way from the back of the tote. I should have said earlier … it’s worth having a dry towel or rag handy to dry off any damp on the tote so the tape sticks properly.
Tape the plastic to the tote to stop it sliding back off thenfold the back sides in like wrapping a present and tape the fold on both sides. (Think present wrapping)
When the two back corners are complete fold the front side up over the top of the back side and fix with tape.
As with the first side fold the plastic in as tightly and neatly as you can in the corners and fix with tape. Finally fold up the pointy end pieces that are left on the sides and secure with the tape. It really is just like wrapping up a giant Christmas present.
When the tote is all wrapped up simply slide it back into the cage and you’re done.
Finally make a hole in the plastic for the cap and position the tote where it can have the maximum effect. I’m using one in the nursery to collect from the new outbuildings and the other to collect from the workshop nearest the house.
Final job was to stretch an old pair of tights over the hole. Low tech I know but it works.
Total cost somewhere in the region of £80. I didn’t think that was too bad for a pretty snazzy looking rainwater collection system.
If you’re thinking of doing the same sort of thing I urge you to take a look at this series of videos from LDS Prepper that explain all.
I’ll take a few more pics of the completed set up next weekend.
… still living the dream.