water tank

Ferro-cement Water Tank

At Russon Family Farms, we believe in the potential of hard work and creativity, especially when it comes to ensuring sustainable water sources for our green spaces. Today, we’re excited to share our recent project: the construction of a ferro-cement water tank.

The journey began with a strategic site selection: the highest point on the property. The elevated position of the tank ensures gravity-fed irrigation for the nearby fruit trees and other garden areas.

To commence the construction, we dug a circle surrounded by a border of stones salvaged from our pasture garden. We then excavated the area down 22.5 cm/9”, filling it with 15 cm/6” of purchased sand and gravel to form a stable foundation.

True to our commitment to resourcefulness, we chose to use materials already available to us, like fence posts, which were repurposed for the project’s framework. The planned dimensions for the tank were 2m/6.6ft in height and 2.5m/8.2ft in width.

Next came the labor-intensive task of mixing and laying 7.5 cm/3” of cement by hand over the sand and gravel. Needless to say, by the end of the day, we were thoroughly in need of a manicure!

We then encased the fence posts in cement and attached 2m / 6.5 ft of salvaged fencing to them. We followed this with a layer of chicken wire on both the outside and the inside.

While one method of constructing ferro-cement tanks is to use a form made from corrugated metal sheets, we chose the self-forming method, for its simplicity and accessibility.

Next, we had to tackle the mixture of cement. After some trials and errors, we found the ideal ratio to be 3:1 cement to sand. We had initially underestimated the quantity needed, having initially purchased eighteen 100-lb bags of cement and 2 cubic yards of sand. In reality, we used 38 bags of cement and about 7 cubic yards of sand.

The construction process was demanding, requiring precision, patience, and a lot of elbow grease. It took two weekends to cement the exterior and interior of the tank and a third to complete the octagonal top designed by Craig. The design features overlapping shingles to channel rainwater into the tank.

But, as with most large-scale projects, we faced a hiccup: the tank leaked where the walls met the floor. Determined not to let our hard work go to waste, we devised a solution: adding a suprafloor to the base. After making this amendment, we were thrilled to see water coming out of the spigot without any leakage.

With the tank complete and secure, we added the final touches by tying down the roof with an old clothes line to prevent it from being dislodged by strong winds.

As a final step next summer, we plan to add goldfish to the tank to tackle any mosquito larvae. The fish will not only keep our water clear but also provide additional fertilizer through their excrement.

The ferro-cement water tank proved its usefulness sooner than we anticipated. After a storm caused a power outage, cutting off water to our house, we were able to rely on the tank to meet our water needs. I was never so delighted to see water pouring into a bucket!

Through this project, we’ve reinforced our commitment to sustainable and creative solutions for our farm’s needs. We’re excited to see how this new addition will further enrich our gardening experience and help us in our journey towards self-sufficiency. Stay tuned for more updates from Russon Family Farms!

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