Taking a wider view on our world, you realize, that water shortage is already a big problem.
Millions of people die every year because of the lack of fresh water.
Many don’t know, that water is most effectively stored in the earth itself. Here I want to show you some methods to save water on your property and help storing it against drought and erosion.
We are not in the position yet, that alarms us so much, that we actually do something against the water getting less and less around here. Even our toilets get flushed with clean drinking water. Which is a shame considering that so many people in this world don’t have drinking water access.
Water seems to be spread over the world so unevenly. Some drown in floods while others cherish every single drop falling from the sky. Many people in this world have as much water access every day as we use in the western world in a few minutes of showering.
It is clear, that water is our number one resource in this world. Without it there is no life.
Our situation in Austria
In Austria we are not facing a serious water problem, yet! This is why most people don’t feel alarmed to take some adjustments to their home and garden where they tap their water supply. It just is a fact, that water, once used in the house, is not “bad”. You don’t need to flush it into the sink right away, it can be so beneficial to other parts of your home. But this is talking about minimising the amount of water we use.
I want to focus on the topic of saving water in the soil so it can be part of a natural water cycle and therefore, in the wide range, do something against the lower water supply here.
Store water in the garden
There are several methods to store water in the soil for a long time to fight drought and erosion. More precisely in the clay particles of the earth.
It is as I already mentioned the most effective way to store water on our planet. Poor earth cannot store as much water as rich soil with a lot of microorganisms living in it. Mulch is again so important! Mulch acts as a sponge to store the water in case of rain, to release it when a dry period comes.
In best case, the water entering your property stays on it as long as possible to get maximum out of it. It makes a huge difference, if water just flows down a slope or get channelled from swale to swale to swale until it reaches the lowest point of the property.
Work with slopes and gravity. It does not need complicated installations. There could be the need to get water from down to up hill. That could be solved with a pump running on solar energy. Personally this would not be something for me but can be an option.
Pond systems can be great if the space is available. Guiding water from one pond to another along a slope. This can create wonderful microclimates and stores a huge amount of water of course.
Water supply methods on our land
In our forest garden we have quite a steep slope. We make use of it for our water supply by slowing down the water that runs off the hill in case of rain. The water gets trapped in small ponds and swales along the way.
Like this we make sure, that water after a heavy rainfall stays on our property.
Our terraces are made like Hugelkultur raised beds. We start by putting big wooden locks onto each other. As the pile gets bigger we use smaller wood and organic matter. Here you learn about how to create efficient hill culture beds. The water can be stored in the organic matter as you build a huge sponge like that.
After your sponge settled a bit you can continue by planting green manure plants on it. Preferably they have long tap roots to hold the structure together.
Beside the swales we also digged some ponds to store even more water on the land over long-term. Ponds are great for your ecosystem and always bring more life to the property. Animals and insects find a home there.
Those who feed enough compost and organic matter to their soil will be rewarded with rich soil. Rich soil will stimulate plants to form a long tap-root. Plants with a good root have it easier to come to water supply and need less care. Especially in case of drought, strong roots can save a lot of life on the land.
The wealth of the property has a lot to do with your access of water and how you handle it! Water always brings life and gives the most important ressource for growth!