The Gardener :: Editor's Letter
March 2020
   The Gardener

I always look forward to this time of the year. There is a glimpse of respite from the heat of summer, and my word has it been hot! Never before have I experienced such soaring temperatures, not only in our part of the world but in many other parts of South Africa as well. Now more than ever before it is obvious that we need to practice smart gardening methods such as mulching (in any guise or form), watering at the correct time of the day, and planting and planning by zone. Everyone is going to hear a lot more about this in 2020, and I now believe that it is the new normal.

With water being the main commodity of gardening, I took a brave leap at the beginning of the year and decided to install two 6000-litre Eco Tanks. Before I launch into an account of this adventure, I need to talk about a key flaw in how we approach the design vs cash flow of our gardens. It’s the chicken and the egg scenario. When we build or buy our home, let’s face it, we are counting every penny and making our resources stretch. Invariably we’re always pushing the budget! With transfer fees, building costs and relocation costs, this is just the way things unfold. It’s only when we arrive at our new home that we start considering anything beyond the four walls.

Even if we had already thought of installing a few tanks, above ground or below, we probably didn’t have the cash flow to actually do it. I now find myself in this exact position. Ten or so years after building my home the little tanks that have been installed around the garden are just not saving enough water, and every time it rains I feel a pang of guilt and see R100 notes falling from the sky and disappearing!
Let’s get one thing straight though: installing underground tanks is a messy job, whether you do it before you have moved in or, lo and behold, do it when you are living there, like us. TLB machines digging enormous holes, Bobcats removing soil, cubic metres of soil that emerge from the said hole having to be relocated. And of course, your garden is already established, with gorgeous gravel pathways that are now being used as a highway for wheelbarrows carting muddy red clay soil that sticks to everything. Never mind the stains! Can you tell that I am
loving this and then to top it
all off, after the hole had been dug and the concrete base had been completed without many glitches, the heavens opened just as we were finishing up on that
Sunday afternoon. The final result was a hole that looked like a swimming pool, with over two feet of water at the bottom. My plumber assured me that this would seep away in a day and all would still be on track for installation. Ha – famous last words! In reality we had to pump the water out of the hole and scrape away the layers of mud to find the concrete base that we had worked so hard on for two whole days. But fast-forward a few days and you can imagine my relief when the hole at last had two beautiful Eco Tanks in place. The soil is being backfilled, and my stress and worry about little fur kids falling into it is nearly at an end.

So what is the point of me sharing all my pain? It’s simple: first prize is to install tanks before you move in and before you have turned even one spadeful of soil for your garden. Tank companies, I believe, are presented with a spectacular business opportunity: to offer clients the facilities to install now and pay over time. We all need these systems of storing water as much as we need running water in our homes. I wonder who the first to offer this will be?

The second big lesson to lessen your anxiety is, obviously, to install tanks in winter (in summer-rainfall areas). I knew this, but hey – I just couldn’t wait. So I needed to suck it up and deal with the mess. I get it!

But oh my word, I am so excited. There is now space for 12 000 litres of water, just waiting to be filled by the next rains, and all of it for FREE!

Happy gardening,


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