Hey all, I thought it's about time to post a video of how I am managing some of my roof runoff.
First my 700sq ft barn provides water (35k gal/year) for my approximately 1500gal duck pond. The pond overflows into a 3" weeping tile pipe that runs very gradually down past fruittrees and is then diverted into woody debris and woodchip filled basins between keyhole-hugel beds that fill and back flow successively downhill. As the water slows in the the flat drainage basins under the paths, it drops sediments (nutrients) to feed the fungal network that connects to the hugel beds. Over flow of this 1500gal diversion basin area then runs down 4" pipe into a 4000gal filtration-drainage basin that also absorbs my garage and half my house runoff. This can be collected in 55gal water barrels buried in the gravel basin that has a 3600cfm sump pump for what seem to be annual 6-10" days of rain. Or I can use a small 40watt garden hose pump this relatively clean water back up to the duck pond or upper hugel beds and get constantly aerated water that fertilizes my plants and gets cleaned for the ducks. I will get the other half of the property an up to date video done soon, but the other half of the house runoff is downstream of the basin goes down through 4" pipe past another five hugel beds south toward the roadside ditch. I planted wetland natives in these to absorb any excess nutrients/pollutants I can and plant to chop and mulch with it.
I hope to get another couple ponds in the chain and of course there's always room for more hugel-chinampa beds. I'd be happy to answer your questions or take your feedback and suggestions.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."-Margaret Mead "The only thing worse than being blind, is having sight but no vision."-Helen Keller
And I think for scale I should point out that the redwood snag behind the pond in the last photo is at least 9ft thick and 50ft tall. Its the skinny one on my property, which is near a road called Wonderstump for a reason. The Iargest is 15ft+ thick. I hypothesize the skinny snag (likely dead over 100yrs after approximately 500yrs growth), along with its old root system, is absorbing immense amounts of runoff like a giant hugel log. If I can get a connected network of fungal dominated soil throughout the property, these logs will help to get me to zero watering through our 4-6 month dry season.
I have what seems like it may be a dumb question...To fill or not to fill the pond artificially?
Since my hand dug, only partially gleyed duck pond went dry a couple weeks after the last rain (May), I have just been giving the ducks a 35gal tub inside a 6" deep hydro basin to clean off in. Every day or two I drain or pump the dirty water onto hugel beds around my property. They seem happy enough with it so I have not filled the pond/pit I dug last fall. It is unsealed besides duck gley and green waste, and holds water longer than it originally did but is still not fully sealed.
My question about filling pond with tap water is both regarding ethics and hydrology.
I know that just letting water run through my system, with its immense amount of woody debris filtering between currently unsealed ponds and wicking to hugel beds would increase my plant yields and the amount of life I support. I could start raising fish eventually after it eventually seals from my ducks. I get the cheapest water of anywhere in California because this is the wettest part, but it is naturally a winter wet-summer dry climate. I see other local, organic farms literally opening up fire hydrant like flows into the middle of their fields for seemingly no reason and with what would seem to be great harm to their soil. I know my one garden hose running at the top of my property and filtering through its entirety would be a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things but still am hesitant to risk wasting a lot of water just letting it flow. It is the middle of the dry season here, and while my property is greener than anyone else around from all the water I slowed and sank into my soil over the winter, it would burst with growth with a good soaking.
Would I be a bad permie if I were to just run my filtered tap water until the whole system was saturated, ponds filled and hugel beds wicking, and then recirculate it all from the bottom pond, at that point turning the water input down to a minimum? This would take days of running the hose on full, at the least. Is this just a wasteful, stupid, insane way to use potable water? Thanks for your feedback!
Yes.I know it is hard, I live in a similar climate and to sit midsummer and watch everything be dry and crackly when you know how lush it can be is frustrating. But I tell myself I am training the tree roots to go deeper. If you water now your plants will grow shallow roots in the middle of the dry season. Instead ignore their pain, look past the wilting leaves and the stressed out look and tell them now is the time to send their roots deeper until they reach the water table. Once the trees are right the understory will follow. I channel energies into mulching more at such a time, although I must say your place looks absolutely gorgeous and well supplied with organic matter. Dry season is a rest period for human as well as plant, so resist firmly the urge to do anything else.
I thought I should point out, of course I did not run that hose! It was all hypothetical and my wife wouldn't have let me anyhow. I really just wanted to hear some great explanation of why it would be stupid or possibly might work. Of course pulling out of the water table isn't worth it, and the garden is rocking along with a watering no more than once every two weeks. Usually more like once a month for fast growing annuals and never for perennials.
I am going down to the lab. Do NOT let anyone in. Not even this tiny ad: