Permaculture Design for Conserving Water
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This course introduces the ecological design approach known as permaculture and shows how it can be used to create water-wise landscapes in dry climates.
Permaculture combines concepts and principles derived from nature with research from ecology and sustainability fields to help design healthy landscapes, homes, and communities that reduce resource use, are low-maintenance, and are self-renewing. You will learn about specific techniques that work in a dry climate, and gain a general understanding of permaculture design and application.
Toby is well-known for his skill at taking technical, scientific information and making it readily available to everyone, regardless of science background. In this course, Toby offers 8, very clear strategies for achieving a water-wise garden. He covers a variety of techniques to help you carry-out each strategy. In addition, he introduces the many benefits, besides water conservation, that come with implementing each water-wise strategy.
By the end of the course, you will have the knowledge necessary to begin implementing water conservation techniques in your garden. Water is a precious resource. Toby gives you no excuse not to embrace water-wise gardening. So dig in and enjoy!
This course was created from Toby’s keynote address at Rethinking Idaho Landscapes, a forum presented by the Idaho Botanical Garden and the University of Idaho on February 22, 2014 in Boise, Idaho.
About Toby Hemenway
Toby Hemenway is the author of Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, which was awarded the Nautilus Gold Medal in 2011, was named by the Washington Post as one of the ten best gardening books of 2010, and for the last eight years has been the best-selling permaculture book in the world. Toby has been an adjunct professor at Portland State University, Scholar-in-Residence at Pacific University, and has taught over sixty 72-hour permaculture design courses. He has presented lectures and workshops at major sustainability conferences such as Bioneers, SolFest, and EcoFarm, and at Duke University, Tufts University, University of Minnesota, University of Delaware and many other educational venues. His writing has appeared in magazines such as Natural Home, Whole Earth Review, and American Gardener. He has contributed book chapters for WorldWatch Institute and to several publications on ecological design.
After obtaining a degree in biology from Tufts University, Toby worked for many years as a researcher in genetics and immunology, first in academic laboratories including Harvard and the University of Washington in Seattle, and then at Immunex, a major medical biotech company. At about the time he was growing dissatisfied with the direction biotechnology was taking, he discovered permaculture, a design approach based on ecological principles that creates sustainable landscapes, homes, and workplaces. A career change followed, and Toby and his wife, Kiel, spent ten years creating a rural permaculture site in southern Oregon. He was the editor of Permaculture Activist, a journal of ecological design and sustainable culture, from 1999 to 2004. He moved to Portland, Oregon in 2004, and spent six years developing urban sustainability resources there. Toby and his wife now live in Sebastopol, California.
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|Section 1: An Introduction to Permaculture Design for Conserving Water|
This brief lesson explains what this course is all about and gives you an idea about what you can expect to get out of it. It also tells you a little bit about the instructor.
In this introductory lesson, Toby talks about how he is going to approach the topic of water conservation through the lens of permaculture. He talks about water as a resource and shows you why water conservation is so important.
|Section 2: What is Permaculture?|
In this lesson, Toby gives you a brief history of Permaculture. He introduces the founder of permaculture, Bill Mollison, and explains how Mollison came to the idea (or solution) that became permaculture. Toby talks about how permaculture has evolved and what it is today. He gives some great examples to help you understand this often misunderstood term.
|Section 3: Design Principles for Water Conservation|
In this lesson, Toby explains, in general, what the permaculture design principles are. He goes onto thoroughly examine 3 of them: observe, stacking functions, and redundancy. He provides examples of each and talks about why they are so useful in water conservation.
|Section 4: The 8-Fold Path to Water Conservation|
In this lesson, Toby introduces 8 strategies that will help you achieve your goal of water conservation. He starts with a photo of a beautiful garden in New Mexico and goes on to explain how each of his 8 strategies is employed to make it a water-wise garden. In the following lessons, Toby addresses each of these techniques in depth.
In this lesson, Toby explains his 1st water-wise strategy: soil that is rich in organic matter. He gives you a variety of techniques to help increase organic matter in your soil. Then Toby talks about the many benefits, besides water conservation, associated with increasing organic matter in your soil.
In this lesson, Toby discusses his 2nd water-wise strategy: mulch. He talks about a variety of ways to use mulch in your garden including sheet mulching. Toby talks about how mulch can help you conserve water in your garden. He goes on to talk about the many benefits of using mulch in your garden, including benefits to soil life.
In this lesson, Toby covers his 3rd water-wise strategy: contour soil to hold water. He offers several techniques that help conserve water in your garden. Toby talks about applying his unique “path to abundance approach”, when designing your garden in a dry climate. Among the techniques that Toby covers are mulched basins, curb cuts, hugelkulturs, and swales. Then Toby discusses the benefits of contouring the soil to hold water.
In this lesson, Toby talks about his 4th water-wise strategy: plant densely and in layers. Toby explains why this is important and how it mimics nature. Among the techniques he discusses to help you do this are food forests and guilds. Toby talks about why food forests are so important and how you can utilize layers in a food forest. Then he explains how you can approach water conservation with the use of guilds. Toby offers an in depth exploration of guilds providing examples along the way. He dissects the various parts of a guild to make it easy for you to understand how to plant with guilds. Lastly, Toby goes over all the benefits, besides water conservation, of planting densely and in layers.
|n this lesson, Toby covers his 5th water-wise strategy: arrange plants by water need. Toby explains that this strategy is based on the permaculture idea of zones. He thoroughly explains zones using both pictures and examples. Then he provides a number of ways that you can arrange plants by water zone. Toby also introduces the idea of permaculture sectors and explains how sectors can be applied to water conservation. Lastly, Toby covers the benefits of using zones and sectors to arrange plants by water need.|
In this lesson, Toby explains his 6th water-wise strategy: harvest the rain. He talks about a couple of ways to harvest the rain in your garden including using water barrels. He provides some very clear stats on how much water you can harvest with different techniques of rain catchment. Toby then goes through a list of benefits, besides water conservation, of harvesting the rain.
In this lesson, Toby offers his 7th water-wise strategy: reusing water. Toby talks extensively about ways to reuse greywater from your shower, laundry, tub and sink. In particular, he shows you how you can implement the ‘laundry to landscape’ technique in your house and garden. Toby even ventures into the controversial world of using blackwater (water from the toilet) in the garden. Lastly, Toby goes through the list of benefits, besides water conservation, of reusing water.
In this lesson, Toby offers his 8th (and last) water-wise strategy: water wisely. He introduces drip irrigation as a technique to conserve water. Toby talks about the benefits of watering wisely in the garden.
|Section 5: Conclusion: It All Adds Up|
|In the last lesson, Toby reminds us of the 8 water-wise strategies he introduced with the goal of water conservation in the garden. Then he goes through the list of the 40+ other benefits that come with employing these techniques in your garden. He shows you how it all adds up! Lastly, Toby answers a couple of questions from the audience.|
Toby Hemenway is the author of Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, which was awarded the Nautilus Gold Medal in 2011, was named by the Washington Post as one of the ten best gardening books of 2010, and for the last eight years has been the best-selling permaculture book in the world. Toby has been an adjunct professor at Portland State University, Scholar-in-Residence at Pacific University, and has taught over sixty 72-hour permaculture design courses.