I have three old hot tubs that serve as small ponds on my homestead. I’ve also got a couple of little in-ground ponds, one which uses a liner… and one that’s just a pre-made form. For water plants I also use plastic kiddie pools.
When ponds are managed well, they’re a highly productive asset. How so?
Let’s take a look at 5 reasons to add a pond to your homestead (or bug-out location).
1. Water Storage
A brand-new hot tub “pond” waiting for more plants.
This is the big reason many survivalists install a pond. Having an extra source of water in an emergency is a lifesaver. You can go without food for a while… but water? for the sake of people, crops and animals, having a pond makes sense – and it’s more attractive than great big storage containers.
Obviously, drinking directly from a pond is a bad idea unless you’re a duck, but with a water filter, it could save your life.
Putting your pond towards the high ground of your property had advantages if you need to use it for irrigation, though placing it lower allows you to catch runoff easier. If you choose the latter route, make sure to keep some good buckets handy. You’re going to need them if the grid goes down.
2. Pest Control
“But ponds BRING pests!” you might think. “Mosquitoes!”
That’s true, unless you’re willing to spend a dollar or two to rid your pond of mosquitoes. Go – read that link.
If you live far enough north that your pond freezes, you’ll need to make different plans… but down here, I have no problem keeping the mosquitoes out year-round.
Mosquito larva aside, ponds are where dragonflies and damselflies, both voracious insect-eating species, lay their eggs. They’re also where frogs, toads and salamanders will breed. If you can get more of these helpful creatures on your property, you’ll have fewer insect issues. You might even consider putting a small pond right in your garden area. Just be aware… frogs love to sing away the evenings.
3. Food production
Newly planted water chestnuts in a kiddie pool. By fall, there will be a nice big bucket of roots beneath the muck. No-work carbohydrates!
This is something that really excites me, since water gardening is an under-researched topic with incredible potential. Many of us gardeners have done hours and hours of research into the best methods of watering and how to grow crops with little or no irrigation. With a pond… you don’t have to water. Not unless rainfall is low and the pond starts drying out. Plants will grow like you wouldn’t believe – and there is a wide variety of tasty water plants to choose from. Watercress, kang kong, water chestnuts, water lotus, taro, duck potatoes, cattails… there are a lot of wonderful and highly productive aquatic plants. Once you start growing and eating them, you’ll never look back.
Beyond plants, there’s also the tantalizing world of tilapia and catfish. That takes some extra work and infrastructure, but the yields I’ve read about are impressive. You can even raise edible water snails if you don’t mind, well, eating snails. If you do, they can always be fed to chickens… as can many water plants we might not find palatable.
4. Free Fertilizer
This is an interesting realm to research. Some water plants, such as duckweed, Azolla and water hyacinth, are incredibly proficient producers of biomass that can be used as compost fodder or even skimmed and added directly to garden beds.
The Japanese use the nitrogen-fixing ability of Azolla to a positive benefit by flooding their rice paddies, letting Azolla grow, then draining it so the tiny plants rot on the surface and feed the crop.
I have a brilliant friend that lives near me who keeps multiple ponds filled with duckweed and Azolla that he skims regularly to use as fertilizer. Check out a video here.
I’ve started doing the same at my homestead and I’m really impressed by the amount of growth I get every week, especially from the Azolla. Nitrogen-fixing plants are an amazing resource… especially ones you never have to water.
5. Inner Peace
Dixie irises. Not edible, but good for the soul.
Beyond the requirements of survival, having water on your property is a thing of beauty. Even if it didn’t serve any purpose beyond that, there’s still a value in creating something lovely. I’m often a brutal utilitarian… but I have to admit, my ponds bring me more than just sources of water, pest control, fertilizer and food. They’re active ecosystems that bring in a wide variety of interesting creatures… they reflect the blue skies above… and they simply provide a peaceful oasis in uncertain times.
Ponds can range from a multi-acre waterworks crafted by bulldozers… down to a half-barrel on a patio.
If you don’t have a pond yet, why not?
Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’m going to dig a few more.