Tag Archives: water

Water Retention is just “Swale”

On our little 5th acre suburban homestead in the Mid-Atlantic Region, there is always one area of concern from mid-June through late August…..Water.

We don’t tend to get a lot of rain during these months and when it does rain, it is a quick storm or sudden downpour. The problem with the rains we do get is it runs off very quickly instead of soaking through for a deep root watering of all our plants.

So, this year I decided to try and build a water retention ditch through part of our back yard. Most of our ground is very level, so I don’t know if you could call this a true swale, but it is built of the swale concept.

I started by digging a trough basically about 18″ deep and made sure that the bottom grade of the ditch was perfectly level from one end to the other. Getting the base level means that although the trough is anywhere from 12″ to 18″ deep, the water will still remain evenly throughout ditch.

After the ditch was dug and I insured it would hold water evenly, I put a layer of landscape fabric before adding fill. The fill is done with old logs and tree trunks, which will help retain the moisture of every rain.

Then to top it off is a “path” of large rock. The rock will allow easy water flow, yet adds the appearance of only being a path through the mulch of garden beds.

Sorry I did not get pictures of the area when I first started, but here are the pics of the project and finished work.

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The swale runs between some fruit trees and in the middle of a larger “food forest” which I am hoping that it will keep enough water dispersed throughout during the dryer season.

The berm built on the side from the dirt dug from the trench will serve as extra planting space. Have not decided exactly what I will plant yet, but I will have it finished up in the next few days.

My plan is to add two or three more if this does exactly what I am hoping it will do. Any way I can keep more water on the property is a great advantage to the amount of watering we have add to do these past few years.

Water Waster! Water Waster!

I believe this fits well with my last post on water conservation and the planet.

Learn more at Aquaponics Basics.


Beach Bunk Diaries

When I was growing up, my older sister and I would relentlessly tease my younger brother about wasting water.  He would let the faucet run while brushing his teeth or while doing the dishes or would take long showers.  And we were probably harsh about it.

Now, I guess he can start chanting “water waster” at me.

spray_of_waterThe other day my family and I were out in the garden. I was harvesting lettuce (a huge batch!) and my husband was feeding the fish and topping off the sump tank.

And then we went inside.  Without turning off the hose.  I didn’t notice the flooding…all…day…long.

22 hours after we were in the garden last I noticed out the window that the pump wasn’t running. Upon investigation I realized our grave error.  The pump cord had been sitting in water and eventually shorted out. Luckily it had just tripped a breaker and we were able…

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Aquaponics: Sustainable and Planet Friendly

“Aquaponics blends the best of hydroponics (using 90% less water than soil-based agriculture) and aquaculture (relieves the fish harvesting pressure from the oceans), while solving the significant inherent problems of each system (chemical fertilizers and fish waste disposal). Aquaponics is quite possibly the most sustainable growing technique ever created.” Sylvia Bernstein founder Aquaponic Source and Author “Aquaponic Gardening: A step by step guide to raising fish and plants together”

When I started in aquaponics, I had no clue as to the benefits that I was about to reap over conventional soil based gardening. Of the largest, I believe for me personally, was the conservation of water.

My outdoor garden consists of 32 4 X 8 raised garden beds, full ofphone1216 002 compost, soil, and manure. Once planted, it is very necessary to watch weather forecasts as to the amount of coming rain. Natural rain water is good for the garden, but in recent years seems to have been lacking from previous years.

I must supplement from the lack of rainfall, so my irrigation is running far more than I would like it to. My water bill in summer months can be as high as 4 times my winter bills! That seems funny since on the east coast, I am completely surrounded by water: living in between tributaries off the Chesapeake Bay.

The world is mostly water, I believe about 70% of the surface is covered by water, yet useable, potable water is less than 2% without some form or filtration. Many land locked countries are screaming for a usable water source just to sustain their population.

  • According to the United Nations, 31 countries are now facing water scarcity and 1 billion people lack access to clean drinking water.
  • Water consumption is doubling every 20 years and yet at the same time, water sources are rapidly being polluted, depleted, diverted and exploited by corporate interests ranging from industrial agriculture and manufacturing to electricity production and mining.
  • The World Bank predicts that by 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population will suffer from lack of clean and safe drinking water.
  • Agriculture is a major user of ground and surface water in the United States, accounting for 80 percent of the Nation’s consumptive water use and over 90 percent in many Western States.
  • It takes 1,000 tons of water to produce just one ton of grain.
Greenhouse AP tank set
Greenhouse AP tank setup-150 gallons of water per tank

Utilizing my aquaponics systems year round, I use 90% less water than I would for an equivalent sized raised bed. Since the Aquaponic System reuses and filters the water in a constant cycle, I lose very little water. Actually the only regular water loss is due to evaporation.

Evaporation causes me to replenish my tanks about 5% or less per two weeks. This is roughly 5-10 gallons per tank, a far cry less than leaving my irrigation system on to run full force for hours at a time each day of no rain.    Also utilizing a water catchment system, rainwater can be used to replenish the tanks, causing NO excess water usage.

I am trying to stay as sustainable as possible on our little 1/5 acre suburban homestead, It allows us to conserve vital planet resources like water, but in the long run keeps a little extra cash in my pocket as well.

Want to learn more about aquaponics sustainable gardening and live in the Chesapeake Bay area? Check out the upcoming classes on aquaponics?