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Garden Hugelkultur Koi pond fun  RSS feed

 
Posts: 109
Location: northern New Mexico
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Good morning!
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.

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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 sustainable gardening 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 solar energy 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.
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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.
Brian
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Brian Rodgers
Posts: 109
Location: northern New Mexico
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Good morning!
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I made considerable progress on the Hugelkultur project yesterday, yay!
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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.
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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!
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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.
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Which it did! The day was capped off with a nice rain shower.

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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.
:laughing3:

_________________
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. :?
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Brian Rodgers
Posts: 109
Location: northern New Mexico
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Good morning
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!
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Brian Rodgers
Posts: 109
Location: northern New Mexico
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I've made some progress on our first hugelkultur berm, collecting forest litter and rotten logs.
I don't know if you all can see the file names which have the description of the image or not?
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Brian Rodgers
Posts: 109
Location: northern New Mexico
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Good morning!
Feeling good and tired this morning. I got new hiking boots two days ago and got to try them out yesterday.
Attachment:
Oboz-bridger.jpg

https://obozfootwear.com/products/mens-bridger-low-bdry
Super nice! A great fit and feel right out of the box. I probably put two miles of rugged terrain hiking on them yesterday.

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Wonderful hike, but exhausting.
I managed to pull it together and work in the shop for a while after the hike.
Wood-working-in-the-Hilltop-shop-maple-table-top-restoration-August-19th-2018.jpg

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.
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I'm also sanding the oak top on an old workbench in the shop.
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Meanwhile back in the aquaponics jungle things are looking pretty great if I don't say so myself:


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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
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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!
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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!
Brian
Alrighty then, I better get ready for another hike to make certain I love my new boots. That'll make the hounds happy too!
Brian
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Brian Rodgers
Posts: 109
Location: northern New Mexico
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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?

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steward
Posts: 4397
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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Loving your pictures Brian. Looks like you are doing some really cool stuff, keep it up!
 
Brian Rodgers
Posts: 109
Location: northern New Mexico
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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!    

   
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