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Paul continues his consultation with Oregon landowner Chris, another fool that actually paid him rather than blowing the money on cool stuff like ice cream.

Chris has been building swales and planting trees on contour having heard that’s something you’re supposed to do in permaculture.  This is probably a bad idea in his case as swales tend to create frost pockets when built on contour and they’ll actually work to reduce the growing season.  

Chris has been taking various soil samples over his land and all of it is the same red/brown layer, except for the odd rocky area.  Even doing the mason jar test, the soil doesn’t separate at all.  He tried digging a pond in it, and after three inches of rainfall in two days, it dried in one, implying that its silt.  Or, considering that it cracks when dry and passes the snake test, the water might be being absorbed by a lower layer of clay.  This is really confusing Paul as the tests indicate the soil is homogenous clay, but acts like silt.  It should still be possible to seal a pond with such material, and indeed there’s a BB for doing it – compact the surface a bunch and it should start retaining water.

Chris has some concerns about water purity, not as much as Paul had – he just wants cleaner aerated water and can’t use a finger spillway swale as the pond is too close the property line.  Paul suggests setting the upper pond up to overflow into the lower pond and rigging up a solar panel to run a small pump from the middle of the lower pond (missing both floaters and sinkers) to the upper pond to aerate it.  Considering the difference in elevation is about 50ft, he may need two pumps to get it all the way up.  Better hope his misuses doesn’t mind all these toys…

Relevant Threads

Cascadia regional forum

Earthworks forum
Ponds forum

seal a tiny pond - earthworks.sand.pond PEP BB
Set up a solar water pump - PEP BB

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As a bit of a late add-on to the soil conundrum, I've just found a PM theorizing that it's a layer of volcanic ash.
Beauty is in the eye of the tiny ad.
The Permaculture Playing Cards are a great gift for a gardener
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