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Permies likes ponds and the farmer likes duck pond suggestions?(in pure sand) permies
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duck pond suggestions?(in pure sand)

Christopher G Williams


Joined: Sep 24, 2011
Posts: 69
Location: Ossineke, MI
    
    2
So next spring I would like to make a natural pond for our growing flock of ducks. Unfortunately the area where it must go could not be less ideal. It is in a bit of forest I cleared for a garden/firewood and under a few inches of top soil is pure sand. I live in Northern Michigan near lake Huron and there isn't a good source of clay for lining the bottom. I could travel and get maybe a pick-up load or two, but that is about it.

Any suggestions or resources on how I can do this without using a pond liner?


www.michiganmushrooms.net Medicinal mushrooms, Mushroom products and more!
Hugh Hawk


Joined: Aug 21, 2011
Posts: 225
Location: Adelaide, South Australia (Mediterranean climate)
Don't know much about ponds yet, but it would seem that you need something to line it, whether it is clay or plastic.

Alternative idea is transition your flock to muscovies, which supposedly don't need a pond, just drinking water.


Please set your climate and location to display
Jan Sebastian Dunkelheit


Joined: Aug 08, 2010
Posts: 201
Location: Germany/Cologne - Finland/Savonlinna
Closed canopy is optimal for a pond. Remember: A pond with less than 1000 liter volume shouldn't get more than 6 hours of sunlight a day. Otherwise it will be a quite smelly adventure. Especially with ducks in it.

Pond foil is quite expensive. More expensive than wet clay blocks. If you build a pond with wet clay blocks you need to dig down 12 inches deeper than with using pond foil. This is how thick your clay blocks must be in order to create a pond with clay. You use swelling clay to seal the pond on top of the clay blocks. The thicker your clay blocks the more durable it will be.

Wet clay is quite heavy so you should consider transport costs, too.


Life that has a meaning wouldn't ask for its meaning. - Theodor W. Adorno
Christopher G Williams


Joined: Sep 24, 2011
Posts: 69
Location: Ossineke, MI
    
    2
I'm glad you mentioned about the sunlight, because it occurs to me there may be a natural solution right on our property.

We have a section of cedar forest that floods in the spring after the snow melt. I am wondering if I just dig it down a few feet to the water line if clay will even be necessary?
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Mushroomman, I think you should try digging out in the naturally wet area to see if a pond will fill on its own.  However, if the area floods with rushing rather than rising water, you probably won't want a pond there, because anything you try to grow in it will be washed away.


Idle dreamer

Jan Sebastian Dunkelheit


Joined: Aug 08, 2010
Posts: 201
Location: Germany/Cologne - Finland/Savonlinna
It is also possible that you have only a thin layer of sandy loam underground that creates the wet land. Disturbing the soil there might destroy this natural habitat. I wouldn't dig there unless you choose this site as your pond-to-be area.
Ed Johnson


Joined: Jan 10, 2011
Posts: 76
Location: Durham region - Ontario, Canada - Zone 5
do a search for each of  "pond""aquaponic""gley"

there are good threads that answer this question.

Given that it is Fall, you may find that heavy layers in a leaves-manure-leaves sandwich might seal that pond up tight.  FYI This is only based on my research for my own pond, I have no practical experience, yet... 
                              


Joined: Aug 26, 2011
Posts: 71
"Unfortunately the area where it must go could not be less ideal."

Might be better not to put a pond there then

I applaud you not wanting to use a plastic liner. And it sounds like the wet area is good to investigate. If that doesn't work, maybe you could build something above ground? How big a pond to you need? There may be other ways to provide that water environment for your ducks. Work with what you have
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    8
if you have a way to haul it you can have all the clay you want, it is in piles around my pond waiting to be redistributed..probably dozen pick up loads or more..In central Michigan..if you want to come and dig it into your truck give me a PM..

It isn't  easy to dig into..we have a loader, but getting it dug onto the loader isn't easy, and by hubby and son wouldn't have time to run it either.


Brenda

Bloom where you are planted.
http://restfultrailsfoodforestgarden.blogspot.com/
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Is there anything especially evil about liners that outweighs any possible benefit of one?  How small a pond will the gley technique work for?
                              


Joined: Aug 26, 2011
Posts: 71
Apart from the general evilness of using plastic in the land that will eventually need disposal of in someone else's backyard?

I take your point about benefits that might outweigh that, I'm just always glad to see permies deciding to not use plastic where they can. It also interests me that if one wants to build a pond in an area that is unsuitable for having a pond, and one has to use plastic to make that happen, to what extent does that make permaculture sense? It may make sense (benefits outweigh), but we're often a 'I want that there' culture and currently have the tools and materials to make alot of things happen that aren't sustainable. I don't want to derail this thread though so could start a new thread about plastics and permaculture?
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
I hope someone can answer the question about will gley work in a small pond.    I'd rather not use a liner, but I also don't want to give up on the idea of having a pond at all.

There's virtually nothing I do which is "sustainable" as I live in an unsustainable culture (civilization) but that's another discussion!  I started a thread about plastics and permaculture, if anyone wants to discuss this.

(using an unsustainable computer)
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
ontario wrote:
do a search for each of  "pond""aquaponic""gley"

there are good threads that answer this question.


I hope you can link to some, because the big "gley" thread is not all that helpful.  Looks like you need to have pigs, or clay soil, or both pigs and clay, or something else.  Sorry, feeling very frustrated right now, especially after reviewing that thread in which Rob was not able to get his pond to hold water more than about 1 foot deep, as far as I can tell.  I hope he will give an update.  Or someone else will post who has done the gley technique without pigs.  What I'm looking for is an example, not a theory.

Thanks, sorry, just feeling really frustrated right now. 
                              


Joined: Aug 26, 2011
Posts: 71
What size pond Ludi? What's the land like? The purpose of the pond?
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
The largest pond I hope for is about 10 feet across and 3 feet deep at the deepest, in my yard, which is fairly flat in that area.  Soil is clay with lots of rocks.  The soil survey says the soil is not suitable for ponds.  Purpose of the pond is to raise edible pond plants and maybe some fish, and to attract birds, frogs, toads, lizards, snakes, insects, etc, and look pretty.   

I'm thinking of trying the gley technique and if it fails, either put in a liner or simply fill the depression with logs for a "deep mulch bed" aka "hugel pit".

I haven't started this project yet and it's a year or so away on the "to do" list.

Doug Owen


Joined: Sep 28, 2011
Posts: 17
IMHO....

Unless you have a good inflow of water....the only way is compaction and correct soil type.  Otherwise it's a liner. 

http://extension.missouri.edu/webster/ag-edge/irrigation-soil-water/pondpack.html

Shipping in the correct type of Bentonite might work and then of course compaction:
http://www.waterandwastewater.com/www_services/ask_tom_archive/wyoming_bentonite_pond_liners_and_sealants.htm

Google bentonite pond sealer...
                              


Joined: Aug 26, 2011
Posts: 71
Here's a few pond resources. It looks like 3 or more different processes (or a  mix) are used: synthetic liner; using clay as a liner; using gley (anaerobic process); and Holzers' method (building and tamping, but I assume this means using clay). Most of these links give links to further resources.

http://www.permies.com/bb/index.php?topic=3409.0

The Permies 'gley' thread



http://forums.permaculture.org.au/showthread.php?4378-Gleying-our-pond

Comment about using other techniques to hold the water in the ground (swaling, keyline etc). This is what I was thinking about with the Texas and other very dry situations - that ponds are part of drought prevention. Ensuring there is enough water IN the ground, will make the pond leak less and will have much benefit for the rest of the property during drought.



http://forums.permaculture.org.au/showthread.php?11387-Permaculture-Ecological-Pond

Uses a synthetic liner, but has a lovely slideshow tutorial on the building.



http://forums.permaculture.org.au/showthread.php?11297-Gley-(-)

Links to a dew pond tutorial



http://forums.permaculture.org.au/showthread.php?2121-Leaking-Small-Dam-pond

https://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dct6rvhv_17gn3b6sfh

Brief comment from Darren Doherty. Second link is his article on small dam construction.



http://forums.permaculture.org.au/showthread.php?344-sealing-earth-dams-in-volcanic-soils

Comment from geoff lawton about using ducks for gleying



Haven't found a good description of what sepp holzer does yet. Anyone?

Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
The large "pond" we had dug was not compacted, in order for any water collected in it to percolate into the ground.  Compacted ponds in this climate tend to go dry in drought.  I think all naturally-sealed/compacted soil ponds in my locale are dry now unless they are being refilled from wells.  In my opinion water-harvesting structures such as un-compacted "ponds" or basins, swales, and contour ripping of the soil may be better drought prevention than sealed ponds.  Sealed ponds for wildlife or aquaculture may be a fine idea, but these are not useful for drought prevention in my opinion, because they hold water until it evaporates rather than letting it percolate into the soil.
                              


Joined: Aug 26, 2011
Posts: 71
That's what I was thinking too. Have you seen the terraquaculture work? There doesn't appear to be much of actual practical writing online yet, but you could start here - http://www.terraquaculture.net/

Have to admit though, that if I had enough land I'd be really tempted to do this http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=TMxTDm2WSiE (swimming pool and pond).

Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
I love the natural swimming pools and am tempted to make the garden pond I'm dreaming about have a swimming area. 

When it rains a lot we have a fabulous oversupply of water because two seasonal creeks converge right in the middle of our place.  I calculated we get about 120 acre feet of water per hour in flood.  The lower portion of our property can be 2 feet under water!  This winter we hope to put some brush dams in the creeks to slow the water and try to get it to drop its load of soil from upstream. We should have been doing this all along but now it seems more important with the drought.  These creeks could probably never have ponds in them because they move too swiftly.  Not sure we'll ever be able to "farm" this water either because it is too powerful for anything but quite large trees or very deeply anchored large grasses to withstand.  But I see it as a potentially important resource if we can just slow it down a bit.
Lolly Knowles


Joined: Aug 22, 2011
Posts: 159
I started to make a reply to this thread, then was notified that even more responses had been posted while I tried to type.  The video about the natural swimming pools make me think I might not need as much water space as has been planned.  I'm sure there will be even more great information available here by the time I start digging ponds next year!  
Hugh Hawk


Joined: Aug 21, 2011
Posts: 225
Location: Adelaide, South Australia (Mediterranean climate)
Ludi, that water sounds like a massive resource, given your current woes.

Surely there must be a way to harvest it?  Perhaps if you could divert a small portion of the stream flow then it would be more manageable?

Brush pile is a good idea, a stronger one might be strawbales stacked up and anchored into the ground with steel droppers.  But that also requires buying stuff.

Amazing the extremes of climate, drought then floods.  But the flooding probably has a lot to do with the state of the land upstream, concentrating that water into one place which causes it to speed up and become very destructive.
                        


Joined: Jul 07, 2010
Posts: 508
H Ludi Tyler wrote:
  Sealed ponds for wildlife or aquaculture may be a fine idea, but these are not useful for drought prevention in my opinion, because they hold water until it evaporates rather than letting it percolate into the soil.

maybe need to decide for sure what you want..  I thought people used ponds  as insurance against drought because they could then irrigate, even if just by bucket..if the bottom isn't sealed will it still BE a pond or only a very large puddle?

I mentioned this link on another thread but perhaps it's worth giving again, it has loads of info about ponds. They are not fans of using liners, they are intensely interested in sustainable water systems, they encourage the use of native species and warn about  invasives, they are actively encouraging the use of habitat to protect and promote native endangered species of fish etc. They even have some info about gley.

They do all sorts of things from swimming holes to huge lakes for trout fishing. They will apparently do long distance consulting as well, no idea what that they charge tho.

I strongly recommend reading through all the stuff they have on there, there's lots of really good food for thought.  http://www.aquahabitat.com/index.html
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
People may use ponds as drought insurance in wetter climates where ponds hold water between rains.  In that sort of climate a "drought" is when it doesn't rain for a couple weeks or maybe a month.  Here our "normal" rainfall is between 15 and 40 inches (average somewhere around 28 inches) per year.  My area has had about 7 or 8 inches of rain this year.  There are no ponds with water in them, to my knowledge, unless they're filling them from wells.  This drought is like starving Africa dry.  And who knows, next year we could have a massive flood! 

Thanks for the link, I'll check it out. 
Doug Owen


Joined: Sep 28, 2011
Posts: 17
This has been a great thread.  A good point being made is that the type of pond may depend not only on soils and topography but more importantly the usage.  I never thought about the drought conditions and how it would just crack up a nicely compacted and sealed pond.  You'd be rebuilding it every year!

For myself I intend on a slow draining pond for water retention (swale) and duck habitat.  I have access to large amounts of roof run off as well as a creek.  The creek is problematic as I'd have to buy a solar panel and small pump to lift it 100' or so during the dry spells.

Regards!
Christopher G Williams


Joined: Sep 24, 2011
Posts: 69
Location: Ossineke, MI
    
    2
Wow, thank you all of the replies. I'm so glad I am able to inspire this discussion and will keep the board posted with the progress. It looks like I have a good bit of research to do before I go forward.

I did dig out a roughly 4x8 pit in our cedar woods just to see where the water line was and if it would hold water I piped in. At about three feet I hit water and after digging out the sides a bit it filled up with around 1 foot of water. I let water from a hose run into it and it did fill right up, but since it is pure sand it just drained back down to the original 1 foot.

In response to the clay in central Michigan. I don't own a truck myself, but do have access to a truck and trailer. I'm not sure how excited I am about digging that much clay by hand, but I appreciate the offer and will keep it in mind. At this point, however, I think it's going to be project for next spring.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Looks like you hit the water table.  You might be able to have a pond there if you can dig it large enough to have very gradually sloping sides until you get to that water table, and then you can dig parts of it deeper.    From what you describe, you will not be able to fill up the pond to be deeper, but you might be able to dig down for a greater depth of water.  So ultimately the deepest part of the hole relative to the surrounding landscape might be 6, 8 or more feet down, depending on the total size of the pond and how deep you want it to be.  From what I've read, steep sides in a pond are generally discouraged because they are very dangerous for people and other animals, so you need to plan on a larger size to accommodate those gentle slopes, at least on one side of the pond so if someone falls in they can flounder around until they get to the gently sloping "beach" and climb out.

                        


Joined: Jul 07, 2010
Posts: 508
water table or spring? If the water table, then perhaps if you have access to machinery you could get a good deep pond dug once the ground/surface water has frozen hard and it wouldn't a) get the machinery stuck, and b) fill up with water  as you are trying to dig. (or at least, as fast). Frozen ground doesn't sound like fun for hand digging though.

OTOH if you hit a spring..digging into it might do weird things to it, depending on the source.  I have heard sad stories about people trying to improve a spring to get more flow and losing it entirely. Something else to think about.  Aren't you grateful?

The other thing about steep sides to ponds is they are very subject to erosion and the banks  breaking off and falling into the water. I'd think this would be especially true of very sandy soil. Safety is a probly the main one though. Seems as though most ponds have ledges a short distance under the water, probly for that reason as well as to grow some kinds of water plants.
Denise Lehtinen


Joined: Sep 10, 2011
Posts: 100
Location: Tampa, Florida zone 9A
    
    1
mushrooman wrote:
I'm glad you mentioned about the sunlight, because it occurs to me there may be a natural solution right on our property.

We have a section of cedar forest that floods in the spring after the snow melt. I am wondering if I just dig it down a few feet to the water line if clay will even be necessary?


If you can dig down to the level of the water table (plus a little bit), you certainly will get a pond.  Here in Florida where in alot of places that water table is just a few feet below the surface that is the way folks make ponds.  No liners are needed.
 
 
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