Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Suburban Permaculture Project: The Pond

Tiny frog pond in 2014
Worried about safety, we had filled in a deep garden pond in a shady part of the garden when our son was born in 2010.  For the next two years in spring I found many frogs and toads confusedly searching for their former home. After that, they left us entirely, and I realized the mistake we'd made in destroying their habitat: a huge increase in slugs. And truthfully, I missed seeing them hopping around in the rain, and hearing their chirping in the evenings; I felt very guilty for displacing such gentle, helpful little creatures. 

In 2014 we built a new pond, and I decided to make use of its heat storage and reflection of light to my advantage by situating it in a sheltered sunny spot near to the thermal mass of our garage wall.  It began as a simple sunken half barrel with two goldfish for mosquito control.

Later in the year we expanded it with a pond liner.  One edge has a gravel beach, to enable small creatures to access the water without danger of drowning.  I added a small brick patio to another side, giving us a nice place to sit and watch the goldfish, and also adding to the thermal mass and light reflection. It's a great microclimate for heat loving plants. And frogs and toads have been spotted once more.  This spring we've even seen a tadpole!
2014 pond newly expanded complete with goldfish.  Blue barrel is incomplete gravel filter
Finally, to improve water quality, we installed a pump and a gravel filter planted with bog plants and (a few) vegetables.  The pond itself has several different kinds of plants including some natives such as cattails and kingcup, a handful of goldfish, and possibly a swan mussel (we introduced two, and one is still unaccounted for).  We've even seen a water skipper--how on earth did it get there?
Newly planter gravel filter, 2015
My original intent for the pond was frog habitat, to help with slug control.  Secondary uses include heat retention and light reflection to create a warm microclimate for my almond tree;  the possible extension to aquaponics with added gravel filter beds (hopefully this year);  the attraction for birds and insects.  It's a joy to sit by the edge of the pond in the sunshine, listening to the trickle of the fountain, watching sparrows and bees having a drink, seeing the fish sparkle and dart beneath the water.
Pond 2016

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