Our Irrigation SYSTEM

With our new Urban Farm in full swing now, animals, orchards, garden boxes, and everything that goes along with that, one of the things we really want to do is to use as much native water as possible. This means rain water and passive run off.

If any of you have tended any type of garden with rain water, it is worth it for sure, healthy water untouched by chemicals and farming nitrates, but it is laborious and you need to have a system of sorts. You can have all of the catch tanks and pumps you want, but the fact is, you are hauling either buckets of water or miles of hose.

This is something I don’t mind doing, in fact I tend to be in better shape during rain water season than any other time of year, and I like knowing that we are minimal well water users for at least two months out of the year, possibly three. And seeing that our growing season is four months maximum, well that is most of the water we would need, and this is a satisfying thing to me.

So system is the important thing. If you are setting up to water a garden bigger than a sand box, you need to think of a system. How to get water from one tank to another or to the garden.

What type of hose, catch tank, pump, cart, or watering cans you are going to use need to be considered. My recommendation is to go to your ranch or gardening store and price things out. Your starting system should be easy and doable, you can always add later on.

You can get super fancy and technical, or become a true manual laborer. There is no right way, or better way, it is simply a SYSTEM that you create that will serve your watering needs with your garden area.


I have two GORILLA wagons, they have sturdy off road tires and have been awesome to haul water to the ducks in deep snow, spring mud, and now early summer multiple runs to and from the garden.

NOTE – any haul wagon should have big tires like this for ease of pulling over any type of terrane.


These are 50 gallon food grade olive oil barrels from our local ranch store. They came with the little spout in place but we replaced that with a bigger one, and added screen to the top, so leaves can’t enter the barrel, just water. This will also help with summer bugs.

We have three olive barrels under spouts that don’t tend to gather a huge amount of water, but can easily fill a 50 gallon barrel in a single rain.


We transfer the rain water we have collected into a 35 gallon tank that we have strapped onto another one of our GORILLA carts, this cart can hold up to 800 pounds, and the wheels are slightly bigger, truly it is almost no effort to pull this around, unless I choose to go up hill, which I don’t unless the tank is empty!

This part of our system is mobile and how we hand water the 184 trees we planted this spring. We pull the water cart and fill a watering can to hand water each new tree. We can easily do this with 35 gallons, and it also allows us to keep track of how much water we are actually using.

I love this part of our SYSTEM.


This is a 250 gallon catch tank, and fills within 10 minutes with each rain fall. This sits on the back of our loafing shed, and tends to be the best roof for catching water with the way that the storms come in to our valley. This tank sits in the shade pretty much all day so not a huge amount of algae growth.

I pump water out of this tank into my 35 gallon portable tank, or I hook up my garden hose and water the pasture gardens and orchard gardens right from this tank.

To water 12 squash mounds, 10 raised beds, 10 new fruit trees, 6 snow pea mounds, the green house plants, and three stock tanks that are growing herbs, takes about 100-150 gallons of water.

Again I can monitor my water usage every single time, and this makes me aware of how important and HOW MUCH water is needed to grow the food that we and our animals eat. Water is literally life!


My trusty pump. I love this little gadget! My husband wired the loafing shed and put in an outlet above our big catch tank so I don’t have to drag electrical extension cords all over the yard in addition to hoses. Super handy!

I hook the hose to the pump, drop it into my big tank, and then plug it in, it is super easy, efficient, and makes refilling or watering the garden super easy.


Hose and watering can are always in the cart when I am ready to go into the back pasture.


We changed out the smaller nozzle to a 3/4″ nozzle for better water flow.


With my portable water system I also fill our duck pools, either daily or every other day depending on how mucky the ducks have made them.

This water is then bucketed out to water the gardens or orchard, so nothing is wasted. The water has a second, or really, third life while in our hands.

And the bonus, it probably has some duck poop in it, so free daily fertilizer, or manure tea as it is called.

This pool holds 35 gallons.


Another stock tank for the ducks. They love water and so we have several tanks or pools with ramps in various areas of our back pasture. If I’m being honest, my ducks love to go pool hopping after hunting for worms and bugs in the back pasture, they have a super nice life!

Again, when the water needs to be changed out, this is hand scooped with watering cans and used to water various gardens and the orchard. This tank holds 50 gallons.


These 100 gallon tanks have been in use with our various gardens over the past 18 years. I love them and they are so useful.

These sit on the drip line at Fort Duckworth. It is an awesome huge green house roof and dumps a ton of water. We haven’t decided if we want to add gutters, or collect in this passive way, we will decide after this first season and see how it goes.

So far we have four – 100 gallon tanks, and they fill with each rain cycle. We will hand fill our mobile tank from these tanks, pump water out to some trees, or fill the duck pools with this water.

These tanks are affordable, and we found them at our local ranch and supply store, they have hose connection ports towards the bottom, and when empty you can drag them around to other roof areas to collect water if you want.

I also use them in the fall to harvest our winter squashes, or leaves for compost or whatever. They are simply super handy!


From inside Fort Duckworth, watching the tanks fill this morning.

So this is our system, we can collect 800 gallons per rain. We plan on adding two more 250 gallon tanks to other drain spouts next year as we will increase our garden area. But for now, this is serving our purpose with good healthy water for our gardens.

I hope this helps or gives you an idea of other possibilities for saving, hauling, or making water mobile for your gardens.

All the best, Nancy


3 Comments Add yours

  1. jehumiston says:

    Very impressive! And I always say my Gorilla cart was the best $100 I ever spent

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      agree – I LOVE my carts! Nancy

  2. Summer Time Fun says:

    Indomitable Spirit, Tenacity, Grit and a lifetime of LOVE is poured into your family, animals and now your urban farm

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