The Humble Soapnut - A Guide to the Laundry Detergent that Grows on Trees ebook by Kathryn Ossing
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David Pagan Butler

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since Jul 16, 2012
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Recent posts by David Pagan Butler

Hi Morana,
Generally most native animals that find their way in to a Natural Swimming Pool are welcome. Frogs are fine, and the occasional turtle may dig around and stir up sediments but shouldn't be a problem.
11 years ago
Hi Amedean,

Fish eat mosquitoes but they also eat the natural predators of mosquitoes.

A Natural Swimming Pool contains so many other creatures that predate mosquito larvae, dragonfly larvae, water boatmen, tadpoles, newts, the list goes on, that the mosquitoes don't stand a chance.

Strange as it may seem, a forgotten bucket of water will be teeming with mosquitoes within days, but the pool will be completely free of them. Indeed, I have not seen any mosquito larvae in any Natural Swimming Pool.
11 years ago
Hi Jesse,
my larger pool (20m x 15m total area with a 5m x 11m swimming zone) cost me around £6000. This doesn't include my labour of course. Probably a fair ratio would be around 50-60%
Yes they are certainly aesthetically more pleasing and far easier to maintain than a conventional outdoor pool.

Yes I agree.
Natural Swimming Pools, fit so neatly within permaculture principles and have the power to engage a wider audience, rekindling the notion a lot of us have forgotten through detachment, that being immersed in nature, is being healthy!
11 years ago
Hi Jason,
Yes, runoff water is not good for Natural Swimming Pools because of the nutrients it brings in. The pool should be constructed to prevent this entering.
There is no reason why any lining technique shouldn't be applied to Natural Swimming Pools. Clay pools should be deeper to reduce the sediments kicked up by swimmers. A synthetic liner is easier to install and easier to clean if debris becomes an issue.
11 years ago
Hi Robin,

1) The entire volume of water should be circulated within 24 - 48 hours.

2) There is no disadvantage in introducing air. A waterfall is mainly for cosmetics but should not cause any problems.

3) Circulate the water in the swimming area vertically to disturb the water stratification (i.e. the cooler lower water churned up with the upper warmer water.)

4) There are calculation/approximation methods available, but even measuring all the parameters necessary (wind speed, vapour pressure, etc) is tricky and will only give you a snapshot of the evaporation rate. It is best to get information from a local pool supplier for the average water loss through evaporation.

5) I know of no issues myself. Natural Swimming Pools have been made in Australia and work fine. I found a paper on a Caribbean wild ponds and incredibly they contained no mosquitoes. Just like in Natural Swimming Pools, predators, like dragonfly larvae, control them.

And sadly, as far as this summer is concerned, the UK has has not warmed up that much since you've been away.
11 years ago
Hi Katrin,
sadly fish won't work with a Natural Swimming Pool. In order to keep the water clean and clear for swimming the nutrient levels have to be kept low. Plants then compete for those nutrients and suppress algal growth. The fish will have to be fed and fish food is a whopping great dose of nutrients being dropped in the water. Even if the fish just feed off plants in the pool, sediments will be introduced as the fish uproot the plants and it is those plants that are needed to condition the water.

Food plants - yes! I'm trying with water cress, mint, rhubarb and even water lily tubers (although I haven't eaten one yet because they are too valuable and are supposed to taste like potato)

Ever eager to explore potential new food from the pool, I gathered a bucket full of water snails, boiled and shelled them and fried the morsels with garlic. They were horrible. Like pieces of car tyre but grittier. I fed them to the chickens. It's a bit convoluted but those eggs were a yield from the pool.
11 years ago
Hi Shawn,
I see no reason why this could not be made to work. In fact, I was planning to experiment with this idea. I have the poly tunnel tubes ready to go over my small pool to start experimenting. I plan to enclose the whole pool and see what happens.
11 years ago
Hi Graham,
the only maintenance is pulling out some organic matter in the autumn, usually just dragging some decaying vegetation out with a rake. This removal of organic matter will compensate for the nutrients the pool has collected throughout the year.
The key is to construct the pool so as to minimise the nutrients entering the pool, (for example constructing the edges to prevent surface run-off water entering the pool).
The higher plants (lilies etc.) in the pool will compete for what nutrients are left in the water and deprive algae and duckweeds.

I did some simple heat calculations based on our intermittent summer weather and came to the conclusion that insulating the lower part of the pool was beneficial to keeping the temperature "swimmable" - especially for smaller pools. I usually swim in the pool most days. I have even built a sauna to bring the pool alive in the winter!

This is me breaking the ice and surviving my first winter swim.

11 years ago
Hi Julia,
that is a very good point you bring up. The pool edges have to be constructed to prevent nutrient rich surface run-off from the surroundings entering the pool.
11 years ago
Hi Ivan,
your thoughts are very welcome and informative and tie in with the option I gave a the beginning. Building two separate pools, one for plants to condition the water and one for swimming. They are interconnected only through "snakeproof" pipework.
11 years ago