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  • Usk Valley Roses

Roses and rainwater harvesting

This isn't the most interesting or fun part of rose farming but it is probably one of the most important parts to keeping roses happy and healthy. Water.

Roses are thirsty, hungry plants. If you want plenty of top notch flowers you need plenty of water for your plants and to keep feeding throughout the growing season, once in Spring and then after the first flush of flowers. Obviously we need our rose plants to crop as much as possible, so we have to water them religiously and feed them at least once a week. The feeding part is fairly straightforward but the watering side isn't just a case of grab a watering can, fill it up, slosh the water around the plant and you're done.

We have so many roses that it would be a constant job (and very boring job) just to keep things well watered so we use drip lines and have the roses watered on a timer. Also, watering roses from above can damage the flower petals and as we're really picky we don't want water splash stains on the leaves. We find it's best to water straight on the soil so it can get to the roots of the plant as quickly as possible. But you need water, and lots of it.

Luckily, we are based in the rolling hills of Mid Wales so it rains a lot but still not enough in the height of Summer to keep our roses in tip top condition and flowering their socks off. We don't have a mainswater supply here on the farm, instead we rely on a spring for water to give to the sheep and cows (and humans too.) The spring can sometimes run a bit low in the summer when we have 200 cows, sheep and 4 humans all needing water not to mention the roses too.

So, last week we built a big tank to harvest the rainwater from one of the cattle shed's roof. I had slightly underestimated how big the tank would be. Thankfully Mr.Farmer (aka my husband Mark) knew how big it would be and the capacity we would need to keep the roses well watered for a few weeks should we have a drought.

A whopping 65,000 litres or thereabouts!

First we had to make a nice flat concrete base. Once that bit was sorted we started to bolt the steel rings together. There were hundreds of bolts. Hundreds.

Here's me inside the tank rings inserting some of the bolts.

Here I am inside the tank poking bolts through all the pre-drilled holes. Once again I'm in my 'scruffs' and wellies.

Once the rings/shell of the tank was up we had to spread loads of sand in the bottom to make sure the liner has a nice soft (non spiky) bottom to avoid puncturing the liner.

Taking a photo whilst holding onto a ladder is harder than it looks.

And then we placed the liner in. Anchored the liner onto the outer shell, pop the lid on and hey presto we have a water storage tank.

Now all we need it to do is rain (a lot) to fill the tank up ready for summer.

Hopefully we'll have enough water stored in the summer months to keep on watering the roses and most importantly keep the roses blooming and in great condition.


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