Thursday, 29 December 2011

Wetland Gardens - Forest Gardening's Watery Sister

So forest gardens are basically gardens that copy the stable-state natural template of a woodland or forest habitat - copying nature being a classic permaculture technique. But the forest isn't the only stable-state habitat in nature. What about a wetland system? A wetland will happily remain a wetland for hundreds of years, just like a forest. So as I'm all excited about creating a productive forest garden and as I am also very keen to store and use all the abundant rainfall we get here to make watering the garden easier and to create wildlife ponds, why don't I take the logical next step and create a productive wetland garden?

Just like in a forest garden, I would create all the niches of a wetland system - a pond, with boggy areas around it or whatever and all the different layers of plants and animals you get throughout that kind of system. But all these layers or niches would be filled with things that are useful to me.

So I would include edible plants that grow in the water, such as water cress. Around the edge of the pond, I'd grow edible plants and shrubs that can tolerate both wet and dry conditions, such as silverweed. I'd keep ducks on the pond, so I'd get a supply of eggs and/or a lovely slug eating service (I'm planning to put this pond system right next to my veggie garden, so that would be really helpful). I could even keep edible fish (?) in the pond. I might be able to encourage frogs up there for their slug eating expertise, although I'd have to be careful to give them plenty of places to hide from the ducks as I'm sure I've heard that ducks will eat frogs. The added bonus of having this pond next to the veggie garden is that I can direct any watery overspill into the ground of my vegetable garden, meaning I'll cut down the need for manual watering or a complicated irrigation system. Nice!

So at this point, these are just off the top of my head thoughts. Needs lots of investigation and of course I've a year's maternity leave coming up with (fingers crossed) plenty of baby nap times in which to do that. I'm sure someone must be doing this already. If you are or if you know of any examples of this, I'd love to hear from you!


  1. That sounds exciting and very interesting. One thought though I was watching River Cottage a while back and they got ducks to keep the slugs down in the veg patch and the ducks destroyed all the salad leaves etc

  2. Yeah, I saw that episode too - disaster! Not sure why exactly it didn't work for them. I've seen and heard of lots of gardens where keeping ducks works really well for keeping the slugs at bay, so I'm keen to give it a try. Maybe it's to do with breed of duck or the kind of food they're used to eating before you buy them or something. Not sure. If the worst comes to the worst I guess I could at least cover up any vulnerable plants while they're out.

  3. Some great ideas! I have lots of forest around my property...this would work really well.

  4. Hi I am also planning a pond/bog system. I just started learning a lot about it, but no definite plans yet. (lack of finance)
    I do have ducks already though and I can tell you that they will eat the greens in the garden, noa all of them though...and they will step around with their big clumsy feet. I usually fence off a portion of the garden for them to be free in, or I watch them closely!!
    ps check out the start of my pond post if you want



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