Andrew Breem

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since Mar 03, 2014
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Recent posts by Andrew Breem

I certainly will be mulching, although for the reason you mentioned it won't be all beds all the time. Good idea to pre-moisten it, though. There are some wet spots I can pile it in, and then move it from there to the garden as needed.
4 years ago
I have a roof and several wells I can tap for spot watering, but the water they can provide is small compared to the irrigation needs (conventionally sized) of a half-acre vegetable field. My roof, for example, can provide maybe 375 cu ft of water in an average month; but over the course of a month-long drought (like the one we had last summer), giving a half-acre field an inch of water per week would require ~8,000 cu ft.

So I am more focused on (1) reducing water use by terracing the 10% slope, mulching, building soil, etc., and (2) directing runoff from a 3-5 acre uphill catchment area into the field by gravity flow. Does anyone know of a book that covers things like that from a cold-humid perspective? Or, for that matter, one that explains why I should just give up, dig a pond, and buy a big pump?
4 years ago
Great idea about the bypass valve. With that in mind, I'm inclined to go for the bigger pump. The two are about the same price, and the bigger one--while less efficient for this--is potentially more useful for other things. Thank you both.
4 years ago
I'm beginning a water-harvesting project for a 0.6-acre field that will be planted with a mix of annuals and perennials, and I'm looking for relevant sources of information.

Most of the books I have read (e.g., the excellent Water Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond) focus on arid climates with deep soil and limited annual rainfall. Puddling and runoff are the result of mismanagement, and the advice to infiltrate ASAP is sound.

I by contrast am in a cold humid climate (Maine), and I have shallow soil that is saturated during the winter and alternately parched and saturated during the growing season. I don't have a pond or access to a stream, so I can't just irrigate whenever it gets dry.

I am muddling my way to a solution, I hope. But I can't be the first person to have encountered this situation, and I am wondering whether anyone knows of a book that focuses on water harvesting (both in and above ground) in humid climates specifically.

Many thanks,
Andrew
4 years ago
I'm looking for a portable pump to draw water from a 14' dug well and a shallow 1.25" well point (alternately) for use in the garden. The pump should be able to drive 150-300 gph up to 600 ft at 15-20 psi. Because there is no electricity at either source, and because I need something that's relatively hassle-free, I am thinking a small gas pump. But even the smallest gas pumps far exceed the specs I need. For example:

  • A 1 inch clear water pump with 25 cc engine => 2k gph at 52 psi
  • A 2 inch trash pump with 160 cc engine => 11k gph at 42 psi


  • Obviously I can use a pressure regulator. Maybe I am betraying my ignorance about how pumps work, but I am concerned that even throttled all the way back, pumps like these will overpressure themselves, blow out fittings, etc.

    Can anyone speak from experience about using pumps like these for very small volumes and low pressures? Or does anyone have other suggestions?

    Many thanks,
    stickler
    4 years ago
    +1 for Council Tool. I have their 6 lb maul, and it's a charmer. Head and shoulders above big box stuff. Can't compare to the Scandinavian tools, but it was the best I could afford, and I'm glad I spent the money.
    4 years ago
    Good thoughts, Michael. There's plenty of space downhill to do whatever I want. The old well, at least, is known to have bacteria in it, so I assume that the groundwater around it does too.

    The question is: Is there a spring head? How do I go about figuring that out, and finding it if there is one? How do I distinguish a spring-fed backyard swamp from a runoff-fed one?
    5 years ago
    Many thanks for the good questions, Miles.

    Crawlspace, built on slab on grade. No standing water, but high humidity (75%). Probably coming up through the slab, which doesn't have a capillary break.

    Front yard is moist, but no standing or running water.

    The slab was poured on top of a gravel pad. But per the soil map, the native soil is a shallow (16-31" to bedrock) silt loam derived from glacial till. This extends up the hillside, too, where there are stretches of exposed ledge. Supposed to drain well, but not in my back yard!

    There's 100 feet of hill above the house, all recently logged woods.

    There is already a ditch around the back of the yard, dug before and separately from the house. (There was a farm here in the 19th century.) Soil from the ditch was used to create a berm on the downhill side. But water appears to be passing through the berm and/or coming up out of the ground in the yard itself.

    Clearly the ditch needs to be fixed: Clean it out, check grade, waterproof. (How does one waterproof a ditch??) But if I'm dealing with more than surface runoff here, fixing the ditch won't necessarily fix the problem.

    Any further thoughts?
    5 years ago
    My state's Department of Environmental Protection has a water testing lab. Maybe yours does too.

    That said, even their service is expensive. When I was in the process of buying my house a year ago, I spent about $300 to have them do a series of water tests. That price included various radioactive elements (common in the bedrock around here) but not pesticides or herbicides (expensive, and not a concern on my property) or industrial pollutants (ditto).

    Your concerns may be different from mine, but I'd guess that if you want to test for every harmful substance that could conceivably be in your water, it will be expensive!
    5 years ago
    I'm dealing with a knotty drainage problem, which has many parts and isn't quite right for any single forum here but is related to many. So I figured I would start here.

    A year ago, I bought an off-grid house in the humid northeast. The house is built on a hillside, which slopes up very steeply behind the house and slopes down more moderately in front of it. No drainage work was done, and perhaps as a result the back yard (between the house and the hill) is a swamp. I would like to drain it.

    To figure out the best way of draining it, I would like to understand where the water is coming from. Is it all surface runoff from the hillside and the roof, or is the water table here high for other reasons? What leads me to be suspicious is that there is a disused well on a three-foot-tall hummock in the back yard, and as of January the water level in the well was...three feet down, i.e. level with the surface of the ground elsewhere in the yard.

    Now, my question: Is there a good way for a layman to distinguish between a water table that is high because of surface runoff, and one that is high because of water welling up out of the ground?

    Many thanks.
    5 years ago