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6 cubic meter of distilled water on a 150 m2, what to do?!

 
Shimo Sabra
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Hello Permies,

I've got a new project to design with the following details:

- Jerusalem area / Palestine / Middle east
- Mediterranean climate
- Hardiness zone: 9 (Long hot summers, cold winters with few frosts and few days of snow)
- Above seal level: 777
- Size: 7m*22m= 156m2
- Sun: full sun exposure
- Wind: Western winds
- Urban property surrounded with concrete walls.
- Red brown soil (not specifically clay-ish)
- soft bedding rock at 1.5 meter below surface


The property belongs to a factory of wet wipes and a by product of the production line is 6 m3 (cubic meter) of water on daily bases. They have been disposing this much water in this garden for some years now but water didn't cause a wetland formation.

I have been reading and specializing for the last 4 years of how to deal with arid land Permaculture through the use of Rainwater harvesting, native low maintenance plants and desert rehabilitation techniques because that's the issue in the middle east. The challenge in this project is quite the opposite.

How to manage this water surplus for this size of property?

I thought of these solutions:
- Wetland plants
- A pond
- Water demanding plants like Bananas, willow and others
- Rain garden

Any other recommendations from those of you who actually design gardens in heavy rain areas?
Any great resources (books, videos) that would help me design the details of the mentioned solutions?

I would also appreciate a list of plants that can fit my situation if possible.

Positive regards

 
Stephen Layne
Posts: 26
Location: NE Ga, Zone 7b/8a
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I don't design gardens, but I have gardened in NE Georgia, for 12 years where we can have torrential downpours and then no rain for weeks. What effects on the existing vegetation has the water application had up to this point? What vegetation is present? Is the area subject to grazing? Has the water been running off or is the soil so sandy that it quickly passes through it and leaves the area? Presumable it isn't just going straight down with the shallow rock layer.
I would think either drip irrigation or sunken pit gardens would be the way to proceed and have either a hedge or a the walls of the sunken pit to break the winds as the dry air will shrivel a lot of wetland plants.
What vegetation grows locally near streams or in dry washes? That might be a good area to look for pioneer species for your garden.

 
duane hennon
gardener
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Location: western pennsylvania zone 5/a
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hi Shimo,

welcome to permies

translated, you have about 1500 gal/day in an area 21 ft x 66 ft (for us Americans)

If the DI water is used for production
what chemicals does it pick-up in the process?

if these are not harmful
you might think about aquaponics systems
both in your space and on the surrounding buildings (transfer by pump)

if there are harmful chemical, aquaponics could still be used to grow non-food items
 
Shimo Sabra
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@ Stephen

There are no vegetation in the garden except for few weeds which normally reach 1-2 feet high around here, but in this garden they are about 6 feet tall LOL. So they are pretty happy. The way the water is disposed right now is in one spot during the working hours. Some metal sheets are randomly covering this soil area where the water is directly poured.

The area is fenced, no grazing.

What is "sunken pit gardens"?
I googled it and all i see is sunken sitting area with fire-pits. I'm familiar with sunken beds as a rainwater harvesting in dry lands as a way to benefit from the accumulation of water from the surrounding of the bed.

I will have an answer tomorrow to what the soil structure, but i'm sure it's not so sandy, it has a good amount of clay.

Yeah i'm researching local nurseries and native species for aquatic or wetland plants but would benefit from a recommendation of a family or some species from those who have experience.

I have the following list so far:

Water Loving plants (potentially edible):
Oenanthe javanica (hope spelling is right, identification is important there are poisonous plants in this species)
Lebanese cress
Sagittaria
Water chestnut
calamus
comfrey
wild rice
cattails/reed (typha latifolia)
sycamore
Cottonwood

Wetland plants:
papyrus
canna
elephant ear
willow
beach sunflower
cane (thin bamboo)

Edible:
Banana
Malus fusca (crab apple)
elderberries
Cranberries
Mints
Gingers (some varieties survive here)
Cydonia oblonga (fruiting quince)

Thanks
 
Shimo Sabra
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@ Duane:
thanks for the translation

the water is distilled, no chemicals. It's great actually.

Aquaponics:
Are aquaponics closed circle systems like ponds?
I'm asking because these two systems seem to me like good holders of water but not necessarily heavy water consumers. Please correct me if i'm wrong as I have no real experience with these systems and how much water they would really need on daily/weekly bases.

Thanks for the help so far
 
Michael Cox
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Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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So if I understand you correctly you are looking for a way to dispose of this excess in a useful way? And it currently is just soaking into your soil/subsoil, while keeping some weeds healthy. In an arid environment this is a valuable resource, especially distilled as it will not contribute to soil salting as other irrigation might.

The area you describe is pretty small for using this much water, and I'd be looking at expanding the area. Do you have neighbours who might be interested in sharing your excess? Drip irrigation for example would spread that quantity a long way.



 
Shimo Sabra
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@ Michael Cox

Yeah sure, you got me right.

No it's not possible to expand this area, the rest of the property is the building and the surrounding yards. Concrete concrete concrete...
maybe a roof top garden is one possibility...

It can be possible to give to neighbors but I'm hoping to create a design that can be very distinctive due to an unusual resource for our climate as you mentioned. Wetland plants and water loving plants are scarce in landscaping over here which means a very distinctive garden to demonstrate. Neighbors as well have no plants in the garden for now so it's a second project to deal with above this one.

Permaculture Principle 6: Produce no waste.
I'm hoping to use all the water positively, but only if possible.

Thanks
 
Tomas More
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Location: Santa Barbara
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This sounds like a really fun project. Do you have a budget? The image that pops into my mind is the hanging gardens of Babylon. Layers of plants going up in height with fountains and a waterfall. Maybe a artificial stream. Maybe you could set it up with a artificial rain machine. What about a cool beautiful outdoor place for the factory workers to sit surrounded by green?
 
duane hennon
gardener
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Location: western pennsylvania zone 5/a
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"It can be possible to give to neighbors but I'm hoping to create a design that can be very distinctive due to an unusual resource for our climate as you mentioned. Wetland plants and water loving plants are scarce in landscaping over here which means a very distinctive garden to demonstrate. Neighbors as well have no plants in the garden for now so it's a second project to deal with above this one. "


Wetland plants and water loving plants do very well in aquaponic systems

for urban areas where land is scarce and or may be polluted or nothing but concrete
aquaculture would be a very good use of the water

http://www.permies.com/forums/f-106/aquaponics

or check out aquaculture on youtube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFufTOKn7hU

perhaps the "area" can be a collection of holding tanks and transfer pups
to supply aquaculture gardens on all of the neighbors rooftops


 
Stephen Layne
Posts: 26
Location: NE Ga, Zone 7b/8a
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Fig trees and temperate zone bamboo use a lot of water and would provide a lot of shade. With that much water the fig trees would likely be bearing by the second year. Cannas, alocasias, colcasias, papyrus all have distinctive shapes along with ornamental banana plants and all use a lot of water and like moist to saturated soils and even tolerate water logged soils for a few days at a time.
You could create a very tropical looking ornamental garden with banana trees and bamboo forming an upper layer with the other plants forming an understory. Caladiums are more work as they have to be dug each fall and stored in a warm place over winter, but also add a very colorful effect to the tropical look.
These are the water loving tropical looking plants that I have found do well in a 7b climatic zone with long humid summers and a lot of water.
With the surrounding concrete a running bamboo would be contained and so wouldn't require as much maintenance as otherwise.
Mulching everything heavily in the winter would help a lot.
 
Stephen Layne
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Location: NE Ga, Zone 7b/8a
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Would expanding the garden onto a concreted area be possible? With a steady water supply, lots of smaller plants will do very well with a foot of soil or aged mulch on top of concrete. With water, sweet potatoes would probably grow in a pile of wet leaves.
 
Shimo Sabra
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Thanks to all the relplies,

@ Stephen Layne

The soil structure is Loam, a good luck 20% Clay, 40% Silt, 40% Sand, it just lacking in organic matter.
PH level seem balanced according to a home test using vinegar and bicarbonate, i will further investigate.

Yeah expanding the garden or the design over the concreted area is possible.
When you mentiond the fig tree I remembered a plant list I read in Art Ludwig's book Oasis Greywater where he writes "No paradise is complete without figs" . I checked that list of plants and it lists plants from warm to cold climates as so:
  • Banana
  • Mango
  • Avocado
  • Citrus
  • Pineapple Guava
  • Fig
  • Clumping Bamboo
  • Blackberry, elderberry, currants
  • Peach, Plum, Apple, Pear, Quince


  • From Avocado and below all can grow in this climate, I might try a Mango and a Banana with a bit of micro climate modification.
    This book reminded me with it's systems that it's quite possible to deal with lots of water by using the right earthworks and plants choice.

    @ Tomas More

    I like the idea of the hanging gardens of Babylon. I made my desktop background this imagined garden so to keep the inspiration going..

    The garden have a sitting area/ a deck with a pond under it hopefully. Also a stream and waterfall.
    The budget is fairly good.

    What do you mean by a Rain-machine, I remember something like a tractor or so but can't get google to show me what you mean, can you send me a link please?

    @ duane hennon

    The videos are quite helpful.. i'm watchin watchin...
    I would really like to know if ponds and aquaponics need lots of water or do they resemble a closed loop that holds lots of water.


    Thank you all, it's really helping to get these several tips..
     
    Michael Newby
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    Location: Mount Shasta, CA Zone 8a Mediterranean climate
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    Tomas More wrote:This sounds like a really fun project. Do you have a budget? The image that pops into my mind is the hanging gardens of Babylon. Layers of plants going up in height with fountains and a waterfall. Maybe a artificial stream. Maybe you could set it up with a artificial rain machine. What about a cool beautiful outdoor place for the factory workers to sit surrounded by green?


    I really like this idea for the situation you're describing. Is there enough pressure to output the water high up on a wall? It could then irrigate a series of vertical gardens before being used on the ground area. I'd then have it enter a small pond before overflowing to either on contour swales or maybe even a chinampa type system.

    All that is if I didn't have access to the roof of the buildings. If I had access to the roof along with the budget I'd look at doing green roofs that would help mitigate cooling costs for the building while potentially creating another income stream or at least making a nice little oasis on the roof for taking breaks/having meetings, etc.
     
    Tomas More
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    Location: Santa Barbara
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    Sorry I should have been more clear and he rain machine I had in mind is a Hollywood movie effect similar to the one built here http://www.diyphotography.net/how-to-build-a-rain-machine/
    If you search diy rain machine there are lots of simple plans. If you have wind use larger droplets. I see this as a way to create a cool effect in the space and a fun way to water. Simple system would be a tank with a float valve to turn on a pump and some simple pvc plumbing to the areas you want. Living in Southern California rain is one of the things I miss the most.
     
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    http://richsoil.com/pdc
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