Gentle and Easy
Without water, the soil beneath our feet is vulnerable rock with trapped nutrients. Sometimes a few weeds will volunteer to try to help build soil and stop the soil from eroding away. Throughout the world there is a strong correlation between lifeless soil and a lifeless climate. This is because the forests seed rain and build life. In the tropics the nutrients live in the mulch from fallen from trees. Whereas, in temperate zones the soils are deep and rich.
But most of us live in urban zones where the soil is nearly lifeless. And most people can’t afford machinery to redesign our patch. Frankly, even if we had the money, the machines can’t get in and the job is too small.
Earthworks for Earthusers
Given that more women than men grow food around the planet – here are some ideas for simple and effective earthworks without digging and without machinery.
Earthworks by machinery can be expensive so most of us try to manage without. But when water management is neglected, the site struggles to reach full potential.
The principles of permaculture earthworks are valuable for the preservation of soil and creation of abundance. These basic permaculture earthworks principles help build mirco-organisms, enable plants to access the nutrients, save water and reduce erosion. We can apply the principles for earthworks on any scale: on farms or on a little veggie patch.
Permaculture Earthworks Principles
Water management is taught in detail In permaculture design training. When someone comes to do a permaculture design after years of managing a site, there are many regrets. It is easier to design before you start. However, here are a number principles that can be learnt on the fly:
- Catch, store and use every drop that comes to your site. Waste not any water that passes by.
- Recognise the 3 sources of water: Condensation, Rain and Underground springs
- Slow potentially erosive water. This is the core value of Natural Sequence Farming.
- Take water out from the gulleys and send it to the ridges (this is a powerful tool from keyline water design)
- Set up filters. Take responsibility for the quality of the water that leaves your site. The water that leaves you can be cleaner than when it entered.
- Use natural energies and filters to support your food forests. Filter, store and transport water naturally through the permaculture system with biological resources (rather than plastics hoses and pumps).
Design with Pattern thinking
Designs with patterns such as streamlining and using lobes (small diversions) create opportunities to maintain the direction and speed of water flow. The water will follow the design intention. It will pool and settle-out fine minerals and keep the channels productive and flowing. The water can even help maintain these flow-paths. In truth, you can’t argue with water. Water knows what it likes. What you need to do is sit and listen and coax the water to slow down and spread out.
Shake It Up
Use a variety of storage devices. Commonly, people want ponds or tanks to give them potable water. These are valuable but they are static and unable to evolve. On the other hand, bogs and forest are more effective to release the water safely. Once a pond is full, it can do nothing to manage the next drop. Whereas, a forest is a continually working water-filter. It grows with the build-up. It can even respond to a deluge. The forest drops branches and traps more silt. The forest fungi burst into reproduction. Under-storey plants cup and store water, tree branches and leaves fall to protect the soil, seeds germinate. The forest is constantly adapting.
You can learn with us about how to make small, slow yet effective ways to build soil. You can also enjoy learning about earthworks and have a play in some mud.
World First Online
We are the pioneers of online permaculture training and mentorship. Serving continuously over 20 years, we have tutored participants from more than 67 countries. Thank you for working to make a better future for everyone.