PHOTO: Daniel Johnson
September 11, 2018

When it comes to distributing water across my farm, I’ve historically been a fan of hoses and 6- and 7-gallon water containers, which perform their jobs quite well while being simple, easy to use and relatively inexpensive.

However, having recently embarked on planting a new orchard (with seven apple trees and three plum trees to start), I realized that keeping the trees watered would require a new approach. My young trees, out of their pots and in the ground for the first time in their lives, will need plenty of water this fall, but the location of the orchard (far from a source of water) means that running hoses to the trees isn’t feasible. Furthermore, while small water containers would technically do the job, the fact that I’ve surrounded each tree with six-foot mesh wire fencing (to protect against the abundant deer in my area) means that getting the water to the roots of the trees would require removing and reinstalling the wire every time, and that’s neither practical nor time-efficient.

For these reasons, I purchased a 35-gallon polyethylene leg tank, along with an adapter for the water outlet so I can attach a short hose. The advantages are convincing—it holds enough water to care for all my trees, while it’s also lightweight and easy to handle. When I’m ready to water my trees, I simply place the tank in my red wagon and pull it around with a lawn mower, stopping at each tree to guide the hose through the mesh wire and easily deliver 3 to 4 gallons to the tree. The tank itself is semi-transparent, and I can judge the water level thanks to a gauge printed on one side marking the capacity in five-gallon increments.

Some people might be disappointed by the slow flow rates offered by a tank like this—it’s not a pressure tank and it doesn’t have a pump, so water is dispersed by gravity only. However, I’m pleased that the tank disperses water at a modest rate, because that means I can water my trees without worrying about a harsh jet of water disturbing the soil or delivering moisture at a faster rate than the ground can absorb.

Of course, the gravity feed also means the end of the hose must stay lower than the tank in order for water to flow. This hasn’t been much of an issue for me because the tank is in my trailer and I’m just watering trees at ground level. That said, the trees are planted on a mild slope, so I do have to approach on the high side rather than the low side, just to give the tank a little helping hand. I also keep a concrete block in my trailer so that when the tank is almost empty, I can prop up the back end to help the water flow toward the outlet.

But to put it simply, I’m thrilled with how my leg tank has performed so far. Watering my trees couldn’t be simpler—I just drive around and turn a hose on and off. If you have a similar need for transporting water across your farm, I encourage you to check out this option.

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