Water is perhaps the most essential natural resource. It gives life to plants and has allowed for rich biodiversity in the world’s rainforests. Without it, the Earth would be merely a desert, and not much would be able to survive such extreme arid conditions.
As the world’s population grows and more land is needed to produce food, farmers, home gardeners and homesteaders alike may be thinking about ways to sustainably manage their water resources to ensure there’s enough to go around. Water conservation is all about ensuring every drop is used to its full potential. The goal is that none of it goes to waste.
Water conservation and management for permaculture can help gardeners, homesteaders and anyone else involved in growing food be more sustainable in their approach to saving water.
What Is Permaculture?
Permaculture dates back to the 1970s. It was started by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren from Australia and takes ecology back to its core. The term permaculture combines the words “permanent” and “agriculture” to make a more sustainable approach to growing and producing food. It mimics natural landscaping rather than flattening out areas for planting.
The practice focuses on many aspects of the agricultural industry, and one of those is how it manages water. Those involved in the permaculture movement go past just conservation, though. They use design to reshape their landscape to preserve water and even refresh the groundwater supplies.
This helps minimize waste. Although water covers 70% of the Earth only a small fraction is deemed suitable for human needs and consumption. That’s why so many gardeners and homesteaders have adopted this method of food production.
Water Conservation for Permaculture Gardens
Plants can’t live without water, although they can adapt to soil changes and alternating weather patterns. Permaculture gardeners use two primary methods of conservation. One is to store water in the soil and divert leftover resources to holding areas. Another approach is to keep the water on the surface. Within those methods include a multitude of other techniques as well.
When gardeners and homesteaders implement permaculture water conservation techniques into their own lives, they become part of the more significant effort to restore the Earth’s water supply. Nature is a great teacher when it comes to conserving water.
Methods of Water Conservation
There are so many methods of water conservation concerning permaculture. The idea is that you slow, spread and sink water. These methods allow the soil to thoroughly soak it in and spread it out so each land area gets an equal amount of moisture.
Below are some of the most common techniques used to save water and hopefully replenish the fresh water supply.
Harvesting rainwater is one of the best ways to conserve water on a permaculture farm. There are some simple ways to integrate it into a garden or homestead. Rain barrels can capture water and store it in a large bin, which you can later use on plants.
Recycling Grey Water
Grey water encompasses any gently used water. It typically comes from bathroom sinks, washing machines and showers. Gardeners can reuse this water for irrigation to conserve freshwater.
Swales allow rainwater to slow down. Without them, water would simply flow down a steep hill. However, the swale stops it or slows it so it can nourish the surrounding plants. Otherwise, the rainwater would become runoff.
Adding Ponds or Rain Gardens
Ponds and rain gardens are an alternative to storing water in barrels or on a rooftop catchment. This adds flexibility to store your rainwater, and it will stay throughout the winter months.
Continued Management of Permaculture Water
Before implementing these strategies into your property or garden, ensure you take the full measure of what your land requires. Assess your property’s needs, develop strategies that will work best, harvest the water and recycle it when possible.
Continue to manage your property using permaculture water conservation methods, and you’ll notice your efforts as the land’s resilience soars.