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Pond challenge - any help welcomed.

 
Posts: 98
Location: Sonoran Desert, USA
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I have a large, jelly-bean shaped pond I am JUST now finishing filling up with water. A 15,000-20,000 gallon pool I am converting into a pond, rather. Deepest end is 8 feet, 7 1/2 feet of water, 1/2 feet dirt/clay. Shallow end (not including steps which are now planters) is 4 1/2 feet, with sand, and a little dirt/gravel.

I have some concrete blocks making planters in the shallow end, which may leach but I'm hoping will simply help prevent ph crashes. A little worried about the chemicals involved in making them, but it was the best I could come up with, at this point.

I have dirt, gravel, and sand along the bottom in various places.

I will be putting in a few rafts with plants growing on them, growing plants in the planting beds, growing plants along the bottom, shallow and deep end both, which I hope will help keep things oxygenated. I may even half-sink some growing beds in the deep end, with submerged plants, too.
I will be adding just some super cheap goldfish along with some white cloud mountain minnows.

Here's the challenge: I am trying to do this without a pump.

Does anyone have any experience with a pond with no pump? Older traditional methods for trying to keep everything oxygenated and clean which involved old fashioned practices, or plants, or natural materials like rocks/wood/food items? I could use whatever information you have!

For any who would automatically say that it's not possible without a pump (and I know that it may not be), I'm still going to make an attempt. Because while I'd find this an interesting experiment in any case, it's actually a lot more than a whim. I am going to use this pond to grow food. The reason I am using it to grow food is that I have a rare disorder in which I react to a lot of man-made substances, especially if they are absorbed by my food. This includes many chemicals, pesticides, many fertilizing solutions, all sorts of things. I get all my produce currently from a couple farmers who, as one put it, use 'chickens and hope' to keep their food insect free.

But these guys are getting on in years and I can't say that their children are going to keep up the same farming practices. So I NEED to get a set up where I can grow most of my own food within the next 5-10 years. And right now, it's not entirely certain whether I'm reacting to things like pvc and other materials that would be present in the water with a pump and piping system, although it's looking like the answer is a tentative yes. So I'd like to see if I can make this pond work without a pump, for right now, because it offers the most certain level of safety for me, if that makes sense?

So truly, ANYTHING you've got would be really, really appreciated. I still feel like I'm scrambling a bit, trying to keep up with the knowledge. :-/


 
shauna carr
Posts: 98
Location: Sonoran Desert, USA
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Oh, and here are a few pictures, if they help. And if I can get them to attach right.
deependdirt1.jpg
[Thumbnail for deependdirt1.jpg]
Dirt fill in the deep end
deep-end-dirt.jpg
[Thumbnail for deep-end-dirt.jpg]
water filling up the deep end
planters1.jpg
[Thumbnail for planters1.jpg]
Step planters
 
shauna carr
Posts: 98
Location: Sonoran Desert, USA
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This is the second sent of planters, along with a close up of what I'm doing where the side holes are on the planters. I've got branches that have been out in the weather for a couple years now, broken into pieces and blocking the the holes. I'm hoping that the increase in acidity from these breaking down might help combat some of the increase in alkalinity from the cement blocks. Just playing about with it.

And then the last picture is of the dirt, gravel, and sand added in to the floor of the pond, all obtained from my yard. The planters are still being filled in, even as the pond fills, using materials from my yard as well.
planters2.jpg
[Thumbnail for planters2.jpg]
Planter from the bench
planterholes.jpg
[Thumbnail for planterholes.jpg]
Planter holes blocked with sticks
wholepooldirt.jpg
[Thumbnail for wholepooldirt.jpg]
Pond with dirt and sand fill added now
 
Posts: 337
Location: PDX Zone 8b 1/6th acre
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These are on my 'when I get enough land to build a pond' list, but unfortunately I haven't any personal experience trying these yet. Sorry. Perhaps you can test them and provide some data.

Basically I'm thinking of a ratcheted windmill that powers a waterwheel, or a windmill that powers a skimmer that floats on the surface of the water. There's a lot of room for variance in these ideas, so it's difficult to say what would be required, but it's something to think on. Good luck.
 
shauna carr
Posts: 98
Location: Sonoran Desert, USA
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Charles - Thank you! Considering how long water wheels have been around, there has GOT to be someone, somewhere, with plans for these made out of wood, which I can actually use. Woo hoo.
At least something for me to research while I try it without a pump, so if it doesn't work, I can have a backup plan. Seriously, thanks.
 
Posts: 2679
Location: Phoenix, AZ (9b)
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Interesting project. In our heat - aeration is definitely a priority!

Without a pump...hmmmm, well you and your family could sit along the edges and kick your feet in the water several times a day.

Also any falling water will cause some aeration - but this involves gravity flow from another water source.

Windmill? But does your area justify the price - I don't think Tucson is all that windy - Phoenix isn't.

Don't know if this does you any good: http://melvinlanders.tripod.com/aquaponics.html

Are you just growing plants or are you growing fish as well?
 
shauna carr
Posts: 98
Location: Sonoran Desert, USA
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yeah, I'm concerned about aeration too. I just don't know if I can support enough plants under the water to do the job or not, you know?

And actually, the kicking the feet thing can totally work, LOL. I want to try and eventually get it clean enough to swim in, in the deep end, but again, may not be able to do that without a pump.

For the wind, I live in a good place for it, as we're just outside of Tucson, on the edge of public land where the cattle have eaten a lot of it down quite low. We get wind come in pretty frequently, building up strength as it moves across the low areas, so except in dry summer, we usually have a good supply of wind. Not all day, every day or anything, but enough that it would give a little boost to aeration, basically. I'd have to be making the windmill from scratch, though, out of wood, for me. Won't be able to buy one - probably see if my handyman buddy is willing to help me out on taking on the project, if I end up working on that.

Thank you for the link - I hadn't seen that! I'm trying to figure out what I can use instead of pvc pipe and plastic/vinyl/pvc liners - both for this and for some water harvesting projects, too - and I have NO idea what I can use right now. I seriously feel like I need to start looking up how things were done in ancient Rome or something, sigh. I'm going to be getting a metal water cistern, but the pipes to get water into it? No clue.

I might luck out in the aeration aspect at night, at least - my pool/pond is definitely the water hole for the area. It's cut off from the javalinas by a brick wall, but all the other critters that can jump a little use it, including coyotes and a local bobcat, I believe, based on the scat. So that breaks the water surface a little too, not much, but might be useful at night. We've even got a couple bird species that come to my yard which only show up in riparian areas, and there ARE none around here, except, I guess, for my backyard. ^_^

I wish I could find more information on oxygenation abilities of certain plants, in a more concrete way, but haven't found it yet.
 
shauna carr
Posts: 98
Location: Sonoran Desert, USA
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And just found out that plants use oxygen during the night (and day). I did not know this and feel ignorant as all get out. Man, I HAVE to find some way to oxygenate this sucker consistently, and keep clean, even on days when I can't go out!
 
pollinator
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Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
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According to Bill Mollison, if you have enough wind to turn a windmill, then the wind is already oxygenating the water and you don't need it. I'd go with a really small solar pond fountain - really 2 - 1 for backup.
 
master steward
Posts: 4792
Location: Missoula, MT US Hardy:5a Annual Precipitation: 15" Wind:4.2mph Temperature:18-87F
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Shauna, don't feel ignorant about that. You'd be surprised how many people in my AP Environmental Science class from last year didn't know that. In that class, we did an experiment to see how much oxygen the plants did use. As long as enough sunlight is available, more oxygen will be produced than is consumed for cellular respiration. The ultimate goal would be to keep the pond aerobic. Just like people and animals, plants have a minimum amount of nutrients that they need to operate, after they exceed this amount, that energy is either stored or used for growth and reproduction. They produce all their food with photosynthesis which produces the oxygen, and certain amount of oxygen is consumed for cellular respiration for the plant's bodily needs. Overall, producers usually conduct a lot more photosynthesis than cellular respiration; it is just darkest before the dawn. In all aquatic systems the oxygen levels look like a sine or cosine wave: the most oxygen appears during the day, and everybody gets stressed out at night because everyone is consuming the oxygen. If the sun didn't rise for just one day, almost al aquatic life on Earth would die.

Garden Pools has nice free online classes about aquaponics and garden systems. With a little imagination, there are substitutes you can use for the man-made materials. Here's a neat way of thinking about it that I learned from Gaia's Garden: make a list of all the functions that need to be fulfilled, find species that do these functions, and connect the dots to make a big web of species working together. I think you would enjoy what what the mighty Sepp Holzer has to say on many topics. Here is a video from Paul Wheaton's YouTube channel of the glorious Sepp Holzer talking about ponds:


There is also a neat technique called gleying for sealing ponds.
Here is a resource for getting oxygenating plants for a pond.
 
gardener
Posts: 2814
Location: Central Texas zone 8a
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How will you maintain water level? With the evaporation you get, just the simple act of adding water will help with aeration .

Fish, even as simple as minnows to help with mosquitos
 
Dave Burton
master steward
Posts: 4792
Location: Missoula, MT US Hardy:5a Annual Precipitation: 15" Wind:4.2mph Temperature:18-87F
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The water level can be maintained by planting trees and making shade.
 
Dave Burton
master steward
Posts: 4792
Location: Missoula, MT US Hardy:5a Annual Precipitation: 15" Wind:4.2mph Temperature:18-87F
1821
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Some of the ideas from the circulation free fish tank thread may also be applicable to scaling upwards for a pond.
 
wayne fajkus
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Dave, she's in Tucson arizona. I doubt there's enough rainfall to which trees can maintain anything.
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Actually shade trees work well for bodies of water here. If one has a pond or pool, trees can cut evaporation significantly - which is cool, because our water supply is already brackish and intense evaporation leaves even more salts behind.

Tucson gets about 12" of rain a year - almost twice that of Phoenix where I live. (they are always hogging up all the rain!

Which has me thinking - installing a cistern would be a good thing (I know you said you were planning a metal one) - store some non-salty rainwater to help moderate the effects of salts left behind due to evaporation. If you create a way to have the water fall into the pool like a little waterfall, that will help with aeration too.

Did you contact Watershed Management Group about installing the cistern? You don't even have to be part of their co-op program to host a workshop (see pricing here). Also there are rebates up to $2000 for rainwater harvesting installs in Tucson. I've hosted a couple of workshops and participated in several at other people's houses - they are fun and really get the job done in a timely manner. You pay for the parts, design and workshop leader's time but the rest of the labor is FREE!
 
Dave Burton
master steward
Posts: 4792
Location: Missoula, MT US Hardy:5a Annual Precipitation: 15" Wind:4.2mph Temperature:18-87F
1821
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The Arizona Municipal Water User's Association has a listing of trees here.
There is also a Guide to Arizona Desert Shade Trees.

One of my favorite quotes about water storage is from Gaia's Garden by Toby Hemenway, "The best place to store water is in the soil,". The key to this in a desert climate is to create a good subsoil beneath the sand. A good layer of humus can store tons and tons of water. At the moment what comes to mind for me is the chop and drop technique: the root zone of plants will self-prune when the top is pruned which adds organic matter to the soil.

Another idea is to find ponds and lakes in your area and take notes on what you see. What plants live there? Are there plants around the lake/pond? What is inside the lake/pond? Could these natives be substituted for something to feed me? This would probably be a great source of information and learning tool because nature has had eons to evolve.
 
Whatever you say buddy! And I believe this tiny ad too:
A rocket mass heater is the most sustainable way to heat a conventional home
http://woodheat.net
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