I'm outside early today enjoying the weather and working in the dirt (read "mud"). What could be better than that?
Yesterday morning prior to dawn I was watching seven Bull Elk in the backyard munch their way across our field when a fog engulfed them and they just faded from sight. Wow, after nearly a year of little snow or rain we have so much moisture it gobbles up 1200# creatures!
I love this time of year because the Bull Elk hang together in harmony, cruising and grazing in prelude to the Fall games where they will be pitted against one another. Yeah, it pretty cool and we're seriously lucky they still come by even though we built our house so close to their trails and pastures.
Anywho, I'm outside looking for something to do around the yard and picked the Koi pond to play with.
The fill which we put around the Koi pond came from the excavation of our new bedroom site.
I've been spending time on https://permies.com/ learning about homesteading and sustainablegardening landscaping.
They have something called Hugelkultur described here: https://permies.com/t/17/Paul-Wheaton-hugelkultur-article-thread It's basically rotting biomass formed into a berm which creates its own nitrogen cycle. These are great for planting berries, shrubs etc in immediately. They create their own microcosm I think is the word.
I hope folks in the know will chime in and correct me before I get too far into this very cool project.
My goal is multipurpose, I need to raise the lower side of the Koi pond. I'd also like to stabilize the ground temperature around the little pond, as well as have a nice backdrop of plants behind pond.
Modified-for-Koi-pond-HugleKultur-landscaping-rotten-logs-7-31-18.jpgWe've got these peeled logs which have been sitting in the yard for ten years. I finally found something to use them for, yay!
The idea is to dig a trench next to the fiberglass spa for the first layer highly rotted logs. I should have no trouble finding rotten in the forest around the house.
Ideally Hugelkultur berm should have a south facing component which takes advantage of solarenergy to create dew which in turn moistens the Hugelkultur mound. I hope having the water in the Koi pond so close I can mimic the dew collection effect of a properly constructed Hugelkultur mound. We'll see as it seems I have nothing to loss from trying.
First I'll dig a trench 18" (45cm) below ground level on the low side, then place heavily rotted logs in the trench. :wave1: That's actually as far as I got while reading about Hugelkultur on Permeis.com.
One step at a time really ought to work on something like this I hope. I may not even be able to get that load of rotten logs today and if I do wood that has been outside after all these rains is just about as heavy as it's ever going to be, hehe.
Currently the Koi pond is filled with pond plants and it is considered RAS (recirculating aquaculture system) i.e. it has a DIY MBBR (moving bed bio reactor) as well as a RFF (radial flow filter) plus an inline UV sterilizer.
Sorry if I mistakenly cited facts and added definitions you already know I'm cross posting this between Permies and BYAP and tried to be clear. BYAP Please let me know where I can improve this project, I'd love to know what you think.
I made considerable progress on the Hugelkultur project yesterday, yay!
One of those blessed days where I was able to turn the positive energy I felt into actual work and progress moving us forward through my long 'to do' list.
I setup my rest chair next to the Peppermint Petunias Brittany gave us as an observation point enabling me to see how I wanted the dirt I was moving to be spread around. Yeah baby I was getting my feng shui on!
That's when I realized all this digging next to the pond may undermine the already weak support for the NE corner of the spa.
I used a heavy steel tamper to pack the dirt at the base of the spa in the hope that would be enough in case it rained.
Which it did! The day was capped off with a nice rain shower.
The pond is still in place this morning so I guess I get another chance to address the lack of support today. I'm fairly certain I put at least one concrete block under that low side of the excavation.
The Hugelkultur mound will not offer any support as it is rotting biomass and will shrink over time, so today I'll dig that corner out and see what I can do to support it. That corner has always been the low edge of the pond. Now would be as good a time as any to clean the pond and drain some water out so I can jack it up and set it back down on concrete.
The pond did so well last Winter without all the hay bales I had covering it the first year I may aim for less covering again this year. It's getting more difficult each year with rapid climate change to plan for what the weather might be. The scientist's agree it is getting warmer, but I don't guess we can count on anything. The most relevant part of the phrase Climate Change may be CHANGE.
Speaking of change, we've prioritized projects and the important greenhouse expansion has been put off until next year. It came down to working out an understanding of what I can accomplish now that my health is slowly coming back to normal. At 64 I've got to come to terms with the fact that if I'm lucky enough to get to a point where I can work for a whole day and not be in massive amounts of pain I will not be able to go at projects in the manner I used to.
An example of how I used to do stuff is I'd think about the project for a short time weighing a few pros and cons, then jump in the deep end no matter what the results of that internal debate.
If I was lucky, long about midnight I'd have so much accomplished I was at a no turning back point and felt good enough about the project at that point I'd then go back and reassess whether what I was doing was going to provide the results I dreamed of.
You can probably see how that technique may be troublesome for an aging guy? :think: :dontknow:
This time however, while I know we need to increase the space for vegetable production because climate change is making growing outdoors more and more problematic, throwing together a structure for the greenhouse may be possible, but getting it sealed in for Winter would be problematic. If the new greenhouse isn't sealed, no matter how mild this Winter may be it will freeze and all that frenzied work leading up to that point could be for naught.
This new section of greenhouse may be more difficult to earth-shelter you see, because busting rocks out like Jason and I did for the pond in the original greenhouse might cause cracks in that pond.
So even if I came up with a plan for the structure and managed to source the materials with our budget I'd still need to figure out how to heat the new greenhouse in Winter.
Damn reality, messing with my chill.
Brian's aquaponics thread Specs: 2600 gallon (347.56cf) FT. 44cf GBs. 200 gal (26.7cf) ST. 15 gal (2cf) RFF. 50 gal (6.7cf) biofilter.
2017 season 100 Brook trout fingerlings. 5 Comets. :?
Google photos appears to have cleaned up and made a nice animation out of my Bull Elk photos. Let's see if I can post a GIF.. No I guess not. Here is a link Backyard Bull Elk animation I got a little bit done on my Hugel yesterday, although I was pretty sore from the day before.
It turns out that indeed I had added treated blocks under the low edges of the Koi pond spa project so it was easy to make a wedge to sledge in between the block and the spa to raise that corner up and get it level.
On a related note can someone tell me how to get images inline so I can add context to my photos? I decided to take it easy and work on some light duty projects like making sauerkraut and working on the airlift pump in our aquaponics greenhouse.
Note to self: Don't leave the can of PVC cement outside during rainstorms, water may leak into can and cancel gluing project for the day!
Wonderful hike, but exhausting.
I managed to pull it together and work in the shop for a while after the hike.
I tried out the new random orbital sander and glued two cracks in the maple table top. I'm happy with both. Of course I wish the table top didn't have so many cracks in it, but I think and hope it'll look okay.
I'm also sanding the oak top on an old workbench in the shop.
Meanwhile back in the aquaponics jungle things are looking pretty great if I don't say so myself:
I've decided to move the RFF back to where the original RFF is as I can't get the flow I hoped for with it up high like it is in the above image. I'll borrow a big hammer drill and make a hole in the masonry wall for the drain. It'll be nice to have access to that dirt bed in the corner. The two year old bell pepper plant back there just keeps on putting out beautiful peppers :D
Back in the shop the aquarium cabinet is still a bunch of boards. I'll finish the maple table restoration before I get going on the cabinet. I'm learning a lot about woodworking every day from watching many Youtube videos, which I'm sure is boring my wife to tears, lol!
Even though I stunted the seedlings I started in the greenhouse this Spring they are beginning to put out some fruit. Two plants say hot peppers on the label we made, but they are super mild. Next season I hope to have better luck transitioning plants from the greenhouse to the gardens. I blame fear of grasshoppers for the terrible start this year.
My latest epiphany because of this illness I'm going through is;
Everything I thought I knew about this disease was wrong, so why did I waste so much time thinking about that crap? No more, from here on out I'm spending my energy learning new things and enjoying doing the things I love, or might love once I learn about various subjects.
Alrighty then, I better get ready for another hike to make certain I love my new boots. That'll make the hounds happy too!
Alrighty then, I better get ready for another hike to make certain I love my new boots. That'll make the hounds happy too!
Wowo the pine needles and duff underneath I brought from the forest and placed on two little gardens out back really holds the water! I'm going to keep doing this around the yard, I'm amazed. I wonder if it'll work in the greenhouse as well?
Thank you Miles.
I've added rotting weeds to my hugel berm log and brush pile from a nearby compost pile This brought it to just above ground level. From research here I see that next I need to layer in dirt. We got a little rain last night, yay! I've been busy working on the outside of the house as we're getting ready to stucco with custom made color and a field mix of cement and lime. Our son and his wife have a plaster color business in Santa Fe and they are spear heading the process for us.
I had a big section of the roof off two days ago as I'm tying in the kitchen roof which had no soffet to the latest addition.
In the first photo you can see the brighter sections of tin where the roof was extended to create the same shape soffet. Whew, got it restructured and back together just in time to see it work with a nice little rain last evening. It now can have one contiguous rain gutter all the way across.
I'm beat from the the effort, but super happy as I'm coming off a four year long roller coaster ride of an autoimmune disease similar to rheumatoid arthritis. Getting back in shape at 64 has been glorious combined with my love of short handled tools and now learning about permaculture.
I've also started refurbishing my old tools and fixing up my workshop and learning about carpentry and cabinet making. This is going to be my retirement hobby, I just ordered a hand plane blade sharpening jig and dual sided 1000 grit and 6000 grit wet stone to go along with it.
Boy howdy we harvested 7 Brook trout from our aquaponics system and smoked them for family dinner a week or so ago. Big fat trout wow! It appears it is time to harvest them all. We started with 100 4 - 5 inch fingerlings a year ago and have been harvesting fish all Summer. It's difficult to tell, but I'd guess there are still forty trout in the 2600 gallon indoor masonry fish pond!
I got back on the hugel (darn it I misspelled Hugel in the filenames) this morning.
This little trailer load of soil is from the forest a 1000 yards from our house. It was nice and soft to dig and it held together with grass roots. The first image shows the texture. What do you think of this soil? It's my intention to build up several layers of rotting logs, compost from the nearby pile, loamy sandy soil from above a rock and brush dam, more compost and repeat. Am I missing anything? My hope is at this stage that by Winter I'll have the Hugle four or five feet tall, four feet wide and 10 feet long.
Suggestions will be much appreciated.
I drove into the nearby forest and collected forest duff of Ponderosa pine needles and oak leaves and all that black gold looking stuff underneath. Man that stuff is alive. I don't know how I missed this in the 40 some odd years I've lived here. It's kind of like the HMF (human micro flora) Replete I've taken for the last month to help get my microbiome back to balanced, lol!
After I got the pine needles tucked into the garden and did a little chop and drop of tall plants I worked on the hugel by the Koi pond-spa.
Something needs to be done differently this year as the rotting bales of hay that surrounded the pond are now being fully composted with kitchen scraps and fish waste and water.
I'm kicking around the idea of building a box around the valves and barrels that'll leave me room to reach down to the current ground level where the clean out valves are located. I was considering railroad ties, but I don't have any and I've read that the chemicals in ties isn't good to have around all the lifeforms I'm trying to get growing.
It was a good day in my book.
I managed two trips back into the forest and any day in the forest for is a good day. I went to two different place to collect pine needles and oak leaves.
I don't know if oak leaves are good fodder for mulch, but I thought it'd be a good thing to mix in some deciduous leaves with the pine needles.
Plus the layer covering the ground under the oak and pine stands is the thickest making quick work to remove a big fork full.
I hope being Fall pine trees will cover the bare ground quickly with needles as I don'r mean to harm the life beneath the trees too much.
In the same light, as I place the large sheaf of needles on the garden I try not to flip it and instead keep it facing the same way it came up as I lay it in the garden and tuck it in around the plants.
Inevitably, some of the mycelium (hyphae) winds up on top of the needles so after I was finished I sprayed the mulch with well water from the garden hose.
I don't know if that helped or not but I was trying to sink and settle in the beautiful mulch blessing created by Mother Nature. Thank you earth!
I do get excited about the studies I have undertaken over the years, like the current aquaponics system that gave me hope went the drought was so bad here in New Mexico. Nothing like having a water hole in the house to stave off panic of forest fires. Before that was biodiesel processing, and before that homemade wind turbine power, and even further back before the Internet I was a car modder, swapping engines and all sorts of components from one brand of vehicle to different to keep our fleet of junkers on the road and safe.
I'm just saying this because I feel like permaculture is the apex of all the things that interested my during my 60 plus years on this Earth.I have a planted fish tank in our living room and was about to go all in and learn about aquascaping with CO2 and micro and macro dosing fertilizers which would have used up an unbelievable amount of my time and energy if I had followed through. Just in time I came back to permaculture, I'd been registered user here for a number of years, but hadn't really read much, then blammo something clicked and I'm awakened.
There is abundance of nutrients in the earth, if only we stop tilling and begin the process of soil regeneration. I don't need to spend a bunch of time learning what specific nutrients a plant needs in a void of nutrients, doh! The soil in our yard can be made to have every thing a plant needs if we mimic nature and not fight it. I love the direction this is going.
I can't wait for the next day and the next season to see what happens now that i'm on the same team as nature.
Here is how yesterday and I brought our yard forward.
See ya in the funny papers
I took advantage of this beautiful day with a two mile hike to the south fence. Pretty cool milestone for me, as it has been years since I could hike that and even better, I still felt pretty good afterward.
I hooked up three 15 year old peeled logs to the Jeep and pulled them from the front yard around back to the hugel works. Using a log hook and some round wood to slide these heavy logs into place. Grins!
Now I'm tired
Brian, glad you are feeling better! I turn 60 next year and always feel healthier when I am up at our place in the woods. I am really hoping that someday I will be able to make it more of a full time place.
So do you order your brook trout for your Aquaponics system from someplace? I just built a bigger pond and would love to add some brookies.
Do you have to fence your place to keep deer and such out of things?
Hi Miles. We'll be looking more closely at the portable fencing I'm reading about here as a way to manage the permaculture projects. I did have a fence around the garden before I gave up because of hail and grasshopper plagues. I've only seen the elk in the yard one time back my my old faithful Rottweiler wasn't up to chasing wildlife. The new dog crew keeps the area clear. Permaculture design I hope will get me inspired to begin the gardens again.
I've done another round of digging and dobbing on our Koi pond hugel. It is getting up to ground level next to the koi pond and on the downhill (north) side it is now about a meter tall.
I'm hopeful to bring the berm up above the side of the koi pond and do some rock kind of light weight rock work on the south side of the little pond.
I usually put two sliding doors made of thermal glass over it for Winter.
I'm imagining incorporating the hugel and stone face under the glass, then slanting the glass down to the south to collect sunshine.
This is project is opening up lots of options for creativity. In years past I pilled fifty bales of hay around the koi pond to keep it warmish.
I tried to add a big aquarium heater in the first year, but it was probably a good thing the heater burned out quickly because the electric bill would have been crazy.
So we just let them get cold and stop feeding them so they don't get indigestion as they slow down.
The water never froze, but it got down to 45f or so. I still need to build an insulated box around the filters so the bacteria doesn't get so cold it can't do its job.
No food means the bacteria doesn't need to wrk as hard, but I can't take the chance of the plumbing freezing so I may need to put an incandescent lamp in the insulated box.
Good ridiculously early morning!
Yesterday was pretty good for us.
Besides making good progress emotionally, physically I was able to spend time in the forest again. I've been observing what is happening in what my Dad called #1 Arroyo. Yeah, he wasn't big on colorful names. It is the first major arroyo encountered while travelling south after entering the forest from the pasture land to the north side of the property. There is another large arroyo further back and you probably can guess what its name is.
Both arroyos have the same water shed which is a very large valley which unfortunately the neighbor decided to clear cut for grazing cattle. That was decades ago. It is recovering with new trees now ten feet tall. Two massive hail storms have recently caused havoc in our backyard.
Hail mixed with topsoil and gravel creates something similar to a volcano's pyroclastic flow. There is a lot of power in that flow. These arroyos funnel the debris and water down and across our property. I want to try and harness this water, well at least this is the plan I'm formulating in my head after reading about permaculture.
So I have projects running on several fronts, this one which has to do with emergency repair of our gardens after a cycle of droughts hail storms and unseasonable deluges of rains are destroying the topsoil and moving it down the hill. This goes for our driveway as well. It is just incredible how much hail can move gravel and rocks too.
My health is improving and I'm able to get out and work on the ranch again. Also I'm now retired after this disease put me on disability and our of a job I loved. Every time we go down the driveway I say to my Wife, "I need to work on this road." And I will. Traditionally we have made our roads by hand. My father was particularly skilled at collecting rocks and breaking them into little pieces and carefully placing them in the ruts and divots.
October-2018-one-of-Dads-handmade-roads. this one is across the #1 arroyo. Dad's road work were so well cobbled together they have lasted for decades, even across an arroyo of this magnitude.
This is where I'm getting sod for the Hugel Koi pond project. The rock and brush dam behind the Jeep is what has collected all this sediment from that clear-cut water-shed.
As I dig in the soft ground ahead of the dam I'm imagining ways to slow the water down.
What do you think? Am I headed in the correct direction? Or doing this all wrong?
I hope it's right, because I am having fun doing this stuff. Thank you all for the inspirations
Good morning! After the early snow and cold weather we had this week I decided to kick myself into gear and do something for the Koi. The pond water temperature was already at 53F.
This system is RAS (recirculating aquaculture system) the main difference between this and our aquaponics system in the greenhouse, is the plants are in the Koi pond where as the plants in aquaponics systems are plumbed externally from the fish tank. These two systems do have similar mechanical and biological filtration. It was protecting the three DIY barrel filters, that I addressed yesterday.
Koi slow down in cold water and we need to stop feeding them or food gets caught in their slower moving digestive system.
This makes Koi (there are also four Channel Catfish) in this system ideal for cold weather endurance, because their feed is what drives the system. Less fish food means the bacteria in the biofilter which has also slowed down has less to do.
I've begun Chapter 3 of Permaculture, Designers Manual, so please take this story for what it is, a Permies Newbie doing my first project. It would make me very happy to hear what I can do better. This is layer five I think, and if the weather holds I'll be adding more layers to the Hugelkultur mound. When I get it as large as will fit in to this area so close to our house I'm thinking of adding either flagstone or rock to the south side where it faces the Koi Spa-Pond. I assume the Hugel will shrink over time as there are large rotten logs inside. I'm unclear if there is enough benefit in dew collection to make it worth have the flagstone up off the ground like they would be above the pond?
As I'm reading about permaculture systems, there are a lot of complexities and connections, it's right on the edge of a level of thinking I can comprehend.
With your help, I believe I'll get it.
So the image above is named: Koi-Pond-Hugelkultur-filters-rotten-wood-compost-pile-move. I'm thinking I can create a "connection" between the compost pile and the Koi pond.
What if on the next move of the compost pile I put it against the facade in front of the filters? There may two fold benefits, 1> Yet to be determined quantity of warmth provided to filter area. 2> less need to seal the rotten wood facade from drafts.
We are going to clean a horse stall at a friend's farm and bring home a trailer load of manure to mix in with the rotting hay compost.
I made the facade in front of the filter barrel from rotting dimension lumber. Every year we have had this system outside I build and dismantle the covering as per the season. With this system, I'm excited to see what happens to it come Spring.
There is a lot of mycelium on this wood, having the compost right up against the wood may make things decay too soon. I need to take into account that just as the bacteria in the biofilters and Koi slow down in the cold so will the mycelium. Complexities.
As I imagine what will happen in time to the rotting wood I built the facade from, I haven't been down a thought stream where the outcome is anything but good.
Thanks for the loan of the big book, Jim. I've finished Chapter 2, in Permaculture Designers Guide I'm happy about that. Thank goodness for the sparse pictures because these pages are 8" by 10" with small type and that chapter was a bit grueling to read. At some point I'll do what I often do and write about what I think I learned. This helps me clarify concepts.
I've been helping my son replace the ball-joints on his Blazer. We got the first side finished without much trouble. Day before yesterday, while we were working, a couple deer and bear hunters came by and asked if they could hunt. I agreed if we could have some meat. I've been seeing tracks and signs deer and elk have been very close the our house and gave them some tips about where they are. This is the second time, perhaps the third time these hunters have asked and been allowed here.
Yesterday morning they drove up to the house with a three pointer in the truck.
We now have some venison! We spent part of the morning butchering the two front legs we received. Perfect timing since deer season is over tomorrow.
With the cool wet weather, I was talking about needing a wood heater in the shop. Austin said there was a big pot belly stove in the barn. Awesome, so after butchering, we drove the Jeep and trailer down to the barn and retrieved the pot belly in the rain.
Now the lumber is wet and I'll need to re-stack it and get it off the ground. This is the lumber for the aquarium cabinet. That project went to the back burner when we began the stucco project on the house. That project stalled too, because of rapid climate change I need to modify the way I've done things here in the normally dry (16" of precipitation per year.) Keeping firewood dry here was never a big issue because it didn't rain in October and when it snowed it was powdery and often blew off the piles before it melted.
The term rapid climate change says it all, now I need to have a rapid response to go along with it.
The rain may pass over today, I hope so, I need to get on the shop roof and finish the installation of the pipe cap.
On the bottom I made a modification to the stove pipe, apparently we forgot to pick-up the 7 1/2" to 6" adapter. I tried to weld it in, but I'm out of acetylene. :upset: It's on the list, but naturopathy is using up every penny we have and it got back burnered too.
I'm pretty proud of that mod, nevertheless.
A lot of stuff is happening here all at once, for example the greenhouse roof is leaking zinc from the galvanized tin roof into the fish tank. This will hasten the trout harvest before they get sick.
"Damn rain," I never thought I'd say that here in New Mexico.
We need to scale up the firewood collection which we should have done already. This is going to be a very different Winter than last year and for that matter years past.
I need three times as much firewood as I have here. Sigh.
We were able to collect firewood all through the wimpy Winter last year. I have a feeling this year everything is going to be wet wet and snowy as hell. I've been remiss in making my morning newsletter and it's all these issues, projects, and project changes that have kept me too busy to write or even take pictures.
Oh well, we're doing pretty darn good, all these things considered.
We were not able to attend Della's Harvest fest. We did get to Albuquerque in time to have a great family dinner with Nell's and my family too. Japanese food and great visiting. It was great. Austin brought us all kinds of food goodies from Della's annual Fall Harvest Party. In my haste to make up for missing the good times at Della's, I ate two pieces of pumpkin pie along with all the brisket, turkey and potato dishes Austin brought. I completely forgot that eggs and dairy cause an inflammatory response in my joints. I woke up with painful finger joints as a reminder that I will never be able to eat eggs or milk products ever again. Dang it all!
Dashed on the rocky shores of reality.
I'm going into surgery in the beginning of November for a brow lift, which hopefully lesson the pressure on my eyeballs. The surgeon says it won't, but if I tape my brows, lifting them up I feel instant relief from irritated eyes, the itchy scratchy feeling goes away immediately.
I went into see if I could get an appointment to talk to my primary physician before the surgery. Alas, "No openings," was the answer. I said I just wanted to talk to him and let him know I was feeling much better these days. Apparently the only part of that message the doctor got was that I was feeling better and they cut my hydrocodone prescription by two thirds, Which is fine, except for the fact that I'm having surgery in two weeks and the rules with a pain killer contract are what they give me is all I can get, not any from the surgeon either. Sigh.
My anxiety level is heightened now.
What are ya gunna do about it? I've been coping with severe chronic pain for four years, I guess I can suffer a little more.
I am doing a heck of a lot better. I just need to pay closer attention to what I eat and that will keep the pain away.
I wonder what this area would look if my brother and father didn't burn all the branches and instead covered the rocky ground with the biomass they cut off the trees? Well this is the new plan, Brian's forestry and soil regeneration.
Here I'm focusing my attention on the pinion trees as these are nut trees which attract turkeys and small animals. There are scattered Ponderosa pine trees here as well. These are the upper story trees. What I want to remove or dramatically cut back are the cedar and juniper trees. Currants grow here although only with the increased rainfall have I seen them flower and fruit. I want to promote more berry bushes in the under story. I'll need to create swales to hold water first. Any suggestions on how to find the levels and contours of this large section of land.
Getting more comfortable every day. Firewood on hand is like money in the bank.
We'll rent a log splitter once the pile gets a little bigger. I was thinking of creating a wetter environment firewood stacking system where the sun can hit the stacked pile while air flow through the pile is optimized. I need to get the moisture out of this wood a quick as possible.
I have a good collection of sliding glass door panels. I was thinking of creating a roof over certain stacks of wood to keep the snow and rain off the wood while it dries.
My son wanted to work near the house so he didn't have to test out the four new ball-joints we installed earlier this week. I think he is gaining confidence too as we work together on projects. Those ball joints came out fantastic, but he's correct there are a few other loose joints in the front end, such as the sway bar.
Working near the house is one idea I had too. This property is so large that it is overwhelming thinking about swales on that scale. So at first I'll focus my attention of the dozen acres around the houses.
Plus I need to get back to reading Mollison's big book of Permaculture. I barely started chapter three and it's getting even more interesting
Brian, I read your thread and it all looks well for installing that pond wall hugelkultur. It definitely should work to add the winter heat. One thing I was wondering is what the pond side wall is made of? Is there a question of the newly installed hugelkultur rotting and decomposing the pond wall? Also, is there a way for you to get a detailed aerial view of your Zone 1 property for the natural contour lines to be seen?
Good luck in battling your autoimmune disorder. I've been reading a book titled, "Deep Nutrition" by Catherine Shanahan, M.D. to learn about food for my own early-60s prediabetes.
Thanks for the photos. It really helps to visualize what you are trying to accomplish.
Fellow Permaculture Enthusiast
Good ideas Christine.
I went looking for answers on the detail level of Google Maps and found this: Google Earth contour detail I see what you mean about the limited detail available from this type of mapping software. I think I need to start one of these biologs Maddy is telling us about. If I can make myself slow down, sit down and begin sketching what is around us here I'll have more detail every time I do this.
Thank you for the encouragement on the Hugelkultur project. Perhaps today I can go dig more sod for the structure. I also need to continue to cut and collect firewood, but I'll put that off until I have a spotter.
The Koi pond is made from an old fiberglass hot tub. I don't think it'll suffer degradation in the ground as bad as when it was sitting in the yard unused for a decade. I mean it is photosensitive and reactive from what I have observed.
Do people pack the dirt in and around the logs and biomass on hugelkultur berms? Or should I let the sod fall as it does off the shovel and pitchfork? I'm curious because these next layers will be fairly high in the air and perhaps I can form the sod around some kind of structure for the glass panels to rest and seal against?
I still don't understand all I know about this.
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
posted 6 months ago
So Melissa Miles says to fill in the spaces between the logs and top off the bed enough to cover with 1" to 2" topsoil and mulch. Doesn't sound too thick. I'm wondering if your sod would be fine barring any issues from the aeration decreasing.
I'm converting my keyhole-designed garden beds into hugelkultur beds next year. It will follow a swaled contour on which I have fruit trees planted on the down side berm. I'm debating on what type of logs I should get since I currently live in suburbia and don't have the benefit of culling a food forest property.
Fellow Permaculture Enthusiast
Melissa Miles from the Perm Research Design Institute website:
Creating a hugelkultur garden bed is a relatively simple process:
1. Select an area with approximately these dimensions: 6 feet by 3 feet
2. Gather materials for the project: Fallen logs, branches, twigs, fallen leaves (the “under utilized” biomass from the site). Avoid using cedar, walnut or other tree species deemed allelopathic. Nitrogen rich material (manure or kitchen waste work well and will help to maintain a proper carbon to nitrogen ratio in the decomposing mass within the hugelkulter bed).
Top soil (enough to cover the other layers of the bed with a depth of 1 – 2”) and some mulching material (straw works well).
3. Lay the logs (the largest of the biomass debris) down as the first layer of the hugelkulter bed. Next, add a layer of branches, then a layer of small sticks and twigs. Hugelkultur beds work best when they are roughly 3 feet high (though this method is forgiving, and there is no fixed rule as to the size of the bed. That is where the “art” comes in!)
4. Water these layers well
5. Begin filling in spaces between the logs, twigs and branches with leaf litter and manure of kitchen scraps.
6. Finally, top off the bed with 1 – 2” of top soil and a layer of mulch.
The hugelkulter bed will benefit from “curing” a bit, so it is best to prepare the bed several months prior to planting time (prepare the bed in the fall for a spring planting, for example, in temperate northern climates), but hugelkultur beds can be planted immediately. Plant seeds or transplants into the hugelkulter bed as you would any other garden bed. Happy hugelkulturing!
Pretty cool, right?
Okay where to go from here?
The ill effects of accidentally eating pumpkin pie (which contains eggs and condensed milk two foods I'm allergic to) are wearing off. I must be getting healthier, because the last time (as a test from the no dairy no gluten no sugar diet I had been on for a month) when I put milk back in, I had the similar inflammatory reaction, except it lasted two weeks or more. This time it was accidental, and it lasted three days maybe four with mostly a swollen finger. That is good news.
Nell is getting ready for a surgery. She is having the second part of the foot repair she had done ten years ago. That was to fix the Metatarsal bone where it connects to the Cuneiform. She has a plate in there which the new doctor says has healed and looks sturdy, so she can move ahead if Nell wants to! "Hell yes!" I believe was the resounding answer.
Nell and I really like the new podiatrist in Las Vegas. She explained what the first doctor was doing as the first of two parts in the correction of Nell's painful feet.Next and what she'll have done here at Alta Vista Hospital is to move the Phalanges into a position where they will be again act to give her balance and support so she can walk without pain.
We are optimistic and again hopeful for Nell to not only be out of pain, but to be able to walk and put weight on that leg so her frame is balanced again. With a little luck the hip pain will go away as well.
The first surgery the doctor suggests was much more difficult to recover from as the Cuneiform and metatarsal joint takes all the weight of walking where the phalanges are what gives us balance and finesse in walking. The recovery time is much shorter and they gave her a special shoe instead of the boot she had to wear for a month, last time. I know we are seriously optimistic and often naive. Nevertheless the doctor said yesterday that she might be able to put a little weight on the foot in a few days!
Let's see where did I leave you in the last newsletter? I was working in the forest with Austin, right?
Oh that reminds me. I had a crazy dream last night. Parts of it were recurring from a recent dream where I was hobnobbing with some actor I can't recall who, but we were in Santa Fe in some artist colony or something. The recurring part is I was flying again this time using a magic belt. In other dreams I have wings, which seem to give out at inopportune times, of course. You know how those dreams go, right?
I got separated from Nell after a crazy reality adventure together in a long movie set like Sci-Fi setting. We needed to get to the other end for some reason and all sorts of precarious interactions with people we knew or not would pop up providing some plot or drama over and over as we made it through this maze of hallways which appeared to be like an airport corridor. There wasn't any real danger or violence as near as I can recall, maybe a little, we do watch a lot of movies, lol!
This dream started and stopped several times as I woke at 1:00AM and couldn't get back to sleep it seemed like for hours, even after taking two Valerian Root pills.
Meanwhile back in the corridor of drama, we were doing pretty well at making it through each encounter. It seemed like we could see the end of the reality show ride, in the second and then third time I fell back to sleep. At least I don't recall there being any anxiety as we went from dramatic encounter to the next.
After what seemed like a long damn dream I exited the corridor no worse for the wear. However I guess because it was so dramatic I was emotionally drained and tired I could not recall where we parked the pickup truck. For one thing we don't have a pickup truck and that made the confusion greater for me. Luckily I still had my magic flying belt and was able to raise up above the streets much like watching quad-copter video. It wasn't helping I not only couldn't remember where we parked or what this alleged pickup truck looked like, but Nell seemed to get left behind somewhere. It was quite disconcerting.
All of a sudden I notice a woman below me shouting up to me... "You've got astrophobia!" I'm like, "what?" "What the hell is assophopia" Yes Tinnitus haunts my dreams too. I didn't know what the heck she was saying. Still don't really, I even looked up diseases that make you feel like you are rising up in the air, alas, there seems to be no such disease or phobia. It just a silly dream, except somehow very real, too real I think.
This year's Koi pond cover still progressing. I hope I've got all the drafts sealed with sod. The temperature appears to be stabilizing. I haven't measured it today, but I see mosquitoes flying around under the glass so it must be fairly warm in there.
I got a few chores accomplished yesterday in between aiding and abetting my wife's every need as she recovers from a surgery on her foot.
As I was working on two window winterizing projects I noticed the water level in the Koi pond was near the top of the spa and visible nearly at the glass.
Once I got the two windows squared away I had formulated a plan to open the koi pond and see what was going on. I had an idea it was the outflow from the pond to the filtration that might be blocked. That happens fairly often as there are two outflows, one down in the bottom of the pond called a SLO which stands for solids lift outflow. The second is a skimmer. Both are tied together on the lower side of the pond where the filters are now housed in the rotten lumber chamber. If the filter chamber failed in some way those pipes might freeze, but that seemed unlikely as I believe in the plan and practice of the hugelkultur stabilizer and rotting log structure surrounding the koi pond.
A few years ago I surrounded the whole pond with bales of hay to keep the plumbing from freezing and that worked well, but it was nearly impossible to get at the filters to turn on the valves for cleaning.
Sorry I didn't get any pictures of the process as I was doing it. For unknown reasons both my knees were swollen yesterday making it painful to lean over the pond to work on the filters. One of the pluses of the hugel stabilizer is it is very soft to lean against. I'm glad I put the energy into making the hugelkultur mound structural enough to walk up on. The mound isn't finished. When time and weather permit I will keep on adding to it as I understand the concept the bigger the better.
I checked the temperatures this morning at 7:15 AM. Outdoors it was 26F while under the glass the surface water temperature was 50F. I'm quite happy about that, I'm certain the koi and catfish are as well.
I can always add another layer of translucent plastic sheeting if I see the El nino winter weather merits more protection for the water. As it is now the glass frames do not precisely meet each other and the is a gap where ambient air can enter the pond. I've got what i believe is the more important areas around the edges closed off from the winds. Although there is still some settling of the mulch around the edges for now it is simple enough to pile the mulch back in place.
I think it is a good sign that there is condensation under the glass. I have a feeling this Winter is going to be cold like in years past when it gets down as low as twenty below zero Fahrenheit. If that looks like it'll occur I'll cover the top better.
I split the compost I had between the Hugel and this our lowest bed.
I'm trying to figure out how I'll get more biomass here. My dump truck project is sitting stalled in the driveway after installing the Pierce Arrow dump bed on my Dodge dually only to learn the diesel fuel injection pump gave out probably from water getting in the old fuel tank. yeah that was a huge let-down to a really cool project. Then I got sick and that was even worse in way of a let down.Oh well. I think I'm out of the woods poor health-wise. I'll start looking into injector pumps again. I need to find something very inexpensive because when this project began I had a job and even then looking at a $900 injection pump was pretty rough on the budget.
Welp, that is about all I have time for this morning as I woke up at the totally reasonable time of 5:30AM making for a pleasant way to begin the day.
I broke out the waffle maker this morning and my honey pie looked up gluten free recipes for me. I love you so much.
Nice and brisk here this morning
I got out early yesterday and took a wonderful hike in the fresh snow.
This is quite a nice change from the drought conditions of last Winter. I'm guessing with this snow and the snow of the last few weeks, we're already ahead of last years snow-pack.
There is nothing like the sight of undisturbed snow in the forest. Being the first to trod through the powdery snow creates that feeling of being the only human on the land.
Walking through the silent snow covered forest with the only sound I hear is the soft foot steps of boots creaking through the ankle deep powder with mists in the nearby valley slowly wafting up in the morning sunlight.
My surgery went well and I'm feeling much better.
Kind of a weird observation made during this one hour hike in the mountains is because of this surgery to pull my heavy brow out of my eyes the sun shines directly into my eyes now. It's like I need to start wearing a hat now, I love it. It's a little difficult to tell yet with residual swelling, but I think my eyeballs do feel better without all that weight sitting on them. I'm so looking forward to not having scratchy irritated eyes all the time.
Here's to hope that today is as blissful as yesterday
I still don't understand all I know about this.
He was giving me directions and I was powerless to resist. I cannot resist this tiny ad:
permaculture bootcamp - learn permaculture through a little hard work