• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

question about Standing water

 
John Gratrick
Posts: 55
Location: Mallorytown Zone 5a
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi, I'm John. (<--- Total Noob to all this)

I recently bought 20 acres of old farmland in the hopes of turning it into a hobby farm/orchard/food forest. Lots of ideas on the go. I'm totally new to this whole farming to permaculture thing, but after spending months reading and youtube'in the various things you can do I decided to go from suburban to rural in a big way.

Here is the first of what I'm guessing are going to be many questions. We have about 8 acres of former pasture land which is clayish. Not heavy heavy clay but enough to stick to your boots. My problem right now is that there are puddles bordering on small ponds scattered throughout with hidden streams all over the place. It's a real mess to walk through, but the frogs love it.

Since I'm not one look a free resource in the mouth I wanted to see if all you brillant people could give me a few ideas on how to deal with all the water. I was thinking a pond which would be great to conserve the water for the hotter months and french drains to guide the water to where I can manage it safely. The problem is that our property is the lowest in the area so all the water from all the neighbours ends up on our property. That could mean a big pond.

I know the farmer we bought it from tiled the land years ago but I don't think the tiling bed is in working order. I was planning on scattering some radish seeds (or another long rooting veggie) to see if I could get some to grow then leave to decompose to increase the organic matter in the soil, which I hope will help with the drainage issues.

Any other ideas? All are welcome.

 
Ken Peavey
steward
Posts: 2524
Location: FL
88
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Welcome to Permies.com. You are in the right place.

There are about a million things you can do. Fighting with the water will be the last thing on your list.
There is a discussion going on about using sweet potato or daikon radish to break up the land-the roots are allowed to grow, then decay in place to break up the clay. I'll try to get you a link.
One of Nature's best drainage methods is earthworm tunnels. Helping the land support more earthworms puts them to work. Lots, and from the sound of things, LOTS of organic matter will be needed. This will promote the worm population, and the worms will do the work of incorporating it into the soil.


 
Ken Peavey
steward
Posts: 2524
Location: FL
88
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Sweet potatoes left in the ground thread
It also discusses late blight.

Do a search in here for 'keyline' should get you some good information.
 
Jami McBride
gardener
Posts: 1948
Location: PNW Oregon
25
books chicken duck food preservation forest garden hugelkultur trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Welcome!

I'd say your abundance of water is going to be a regular thing so why not start cutting in swales and ponds .
This will heave some land up and dig some out, which will have the effect of drying the surface nicely. You of course can then radish or whatever.

An youtube search on swales and water features will help you picture the possibilities.

All the best.....
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9421
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
163
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ponds, swales, hugelkultur.

 
Eric Thompson
Posts: 370
Location: Bothell, WA - USA
11
duck food preservation solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
First of all, find out what the standing water is like year around: ask people, look at Google time machine maps, etc..
Sometimes the winter seasonal ponds will do your mulching and weeding for you if they reliably dry into a mud bed around May or June...easy planting for corn, radish, etc for the summer...

If you can't find good information, observe through a year and make small changes around the place along the way... the land won't be worn out next year and you will have more insight..
 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3360
Location: woodland, washington
77
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
the first thing that comes to mind is chinampas.
 
Saybian Morgan
gardener
Posts: 582
Location: Lower Mainland British Columbia Canada Zone 8a/ Manchester Jamaica
8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If you dont have the machine power to get your water access and structures in order right off the bat, and your worried what you really have is a swamp "which can be a great resource" I'd put cattails in where water pools in around your boots and if the water leaves in the dry season you have a serious root crop that grows under water inundation, is completly edible and pigs will happily dig up and cultivate for you in the summer so you can plant a fall crop. I don't know if typha latifolia is a resources where you life but it's what I'm using to manage my anaerobic soil that turns to brick in the summertime.
 
greg patrick
Posts: 168
Location: SoCal, USDA Zone 10b
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Our property is the low spot between our neighbors and we get several feet of standing water after big rains. We're re-grading for better drainage, and have planted lots of very fast growing water loving trees. We've got willows, sycamores and plan to plant cottonwoods too. In addition to drying the ground quicker, the trees provide summer shade, habitat and fodder. The way we see it, we're in a seasonal lake, so might as well plant the things that grow well in seasonal lakes in our area. Also consider the season you have the most water. Deciduous trees don't suck much up in the winter but resist strong spring winds better.
 
Terri Matthews
Posts: 468
Location: Eastern Kansas
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Is there a good grass cover at this time? If there is, then a hayfield would be good. Spring is a wet time in many places, but if there is a good grass cover then it probably gets dryish during the summer so that you could cut it. Though, since standing water tends to trash nitrogen you might need to add clover to the grass.

A pond is also an excellent idea!
 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3360
Location: woodland, washington
77
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
fruiting quince. Italian prune. the genus Vaccinium. Malus fusca.
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
it sounds like you have what are called vernal pools rather than small ponds. at least from the sound of it. great spots for diversity. i would start planting around them.

i think tel's suggestion of fruiting quince would be great. they love those low lying spots or in shallow gully's. excellent human food and potential on site rootstock for Asian and European pears if you get into grafting later on.

coppiced willows would also be good, you can use them to make baskets and other things or have an endless supply of wood for a rocket stove.
 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3360
Location: woodland, washington
77
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
tel jetson wrote:the first thing that comes to mind is chinampas.


just to elaborate a little bit: you could excavate some of the deepest and wettest parts and move the resulting fill to some of the higher parts. the result is longer season/permanent ponds surrounded by higher dry ground that you've built up. layers of willow or other poles on your high/dry parts would add some structure and organic matter so the soggy dirt doesn't just slump back into the low/wet parts.

I would strongly recommend against trying to drain the water away. maybe you'll even want to slow the water from leaving. you have the potential for an extremely productive bit of land there. it seems like a pain in the ass right now because it might not really resemble anything that we're taught a garden or farm should look like, but it's really a huge asset. the only issue I see is that the water draining from your neighbors' places could be contaminated if they aren't quite so conscientious as you are. that's relatively easily dealt with, too, but it will mean a bit more work.

and why don't you tell us a little bit about your location so we can give you more geographically specific help.
 
John Gratrick
Posts: 55
Location: Mallorytown Zone 5a
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm located about an hour outside of Ottawa in zone 5a. Right now there isn't anything on the land apart from native grasses and weeds that I"ve let grow for the past year. The 8 acres run in an east to west direction so I'll get plenty of sun exposure. The wooded area is a mixture of pine, some maple and a few others that I haven't identified yet. As far as I know there isn't any nut or fruit bearing trees, but I'll take care of that in time. Right now my main concern is the water but with it just being spring I'm hoping that it will drain in time but then the next worry will come with summer. Ticks. Lots of Ticks (according to neighbours).

There are also deer, porcupines, wild turkeys and the odd rodent around which I'll leave be. It was their home first so I don't want to do many changes and scare off the natives.
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
you want to bring in lots of wild birds for the ticks, specially species that do most of their business near ground level up to shoulder height. also lizards and small frogs will bring that population down.

i wouldn't be concerned about the standing water except for the mosquito factor they bring. use them as your benefit in the fact that they will be the place with the most moisture come summer. you can use that to your benefit.

and of course photos help
 
Willy Kerlang
Posts: 106
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have a few friends who keep guinea fowl to eat the ticks. They are a funny old bird. In his words, "They look like running helmets." But they eat a lot of ticks.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!