A "nerthener" in the South building self-sustaining ponds.

Discussion in 'Introductions' started by pastures, Oct 4, 2016.

  1. pastures

    pastures Dauphene Duck

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    Greetings You All,
    I relocated to the deep South ten years ago and specialize in "sculpting" land with my equipment. My particular interest is constructing self-sustaining ponds which need no outside energy sources to remain vibrant, healthy support system for life which, of course, means balancing the nutrients requirements of the pond within itself and to the needs of my clients. [By the way, I am talking way above my current knowledge and "expertise" . . . but I know that I am following my right path to make our world a little bit better before I leave.] As I learn more about the needs for any self-sustaining pond, the complex natural mystery becomes more enchanting. Like most learning curves, the more I know, the more I realize how little I know. Thankfully, life for me becomes more interesting as my time decreases.
    Thank you, PASTURES.
     
    pastures, Oct 4, 2016
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  2. pastures

    Meyer Jordan Tadpole

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    Welcome!
    A fellow naturist (no, not the sans clothes variety) is always appreciated.
     
    Meyer Jordan, Oct 4, 2016
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  3. pastures

    pastures Dauphene Duck

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    Thank you, Mr Tadpole. I remain impressed by your knowledgeable response to a questionnaire about connecting two bodies of water. John.
     
    pastures, Oct 4, 2016
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  4. pastures

    Meyer Jordan Tadpole

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    When was that?
     
    Meyer Jordan, Oct 4, 2016
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    CometKeith

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    Welcome. There has been a lot of interest here in self sustaining ponds and a good amount of debate too if it's even possible. Can you describe how one would work?
     
    CometKeith, Oct 4, 2016
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    Becky Administrator

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    Welcome to the forum! :)

    :LOL:
     
    Becky, Oct 4, 2016
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  7. pastures

    addy1 water gardener / gold fish and shubunkins Moderator

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    Welcome to our group!
     
    addy1, Oct 5, 2016
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  8. pastures

    pastures Dauphene Duck

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    Greetings All, once again.
    First, I have yet to have the opportunity to construct a fully self-sustaining pond. I have, however, have constructed enough ponds to know the basic requirements for a successful investment with reasonably easy maintenance and safe run-off. My interest in self-sustaining ponds was stimulated by an article in Mother Earth News:

    Learn how to build a natural backyard pond that stays clean and algae-free without the use of pumps, filters or chemicals.

    By Robert Pavlis
    October/November 2015

    I suggest, first, that one read this article. I now live in southeast Louisiana where heavy clay soils dominate and where the predominant water table lies within an inch of the surface. Pond liners are rarely employed. Fish kills happen often. Clarity of pond water remains "brown." I now look for native bog plants for both beauty and for nutrient consumption. I believe that key to success is knowing the volume of water (and its population) to be balanced by the needed cleansing action of its surrounding bog. Like most of you, I am a novice but also am trying to educate myself.
     
    pastures, Oct 5, 2016
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  9. pastures

    Meyer Jordan Tadpole

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    If you are looking for 'cleansing action' from a bog surrounding an earthen pond, you will not get any. A Bog by definition is a type of wetland identified by a quite low pH, usually composed of Sphagnum moss, whose water source is typically ground water or rain, is very low in nutrients and has no water movement.
    Native Bog plants have low nutritional requirements.
     
    Meyer Jordan, Oct 5, 2016
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  10. pastures

    Mmathis TurtleMommy

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    Hello and welcome to a fellow Louisianian, y'all!
     
    Mmathis, Oct 5, 2016
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    Nepen

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    there are some plant that's native and boggy at the same time though. I think swamp milkweed is one? Doesn't blue flag iris or Louisiana Iris require lots of water? Marsh blazing star is another plant i can think of. Oh and swamp hibiscus. But I might confuse bog with something else... are those require little nutrient?

    when we were in Newfoundland, Canada, there are tons of bog (the whole island?) and there are lots of pitcher plants and blue irises. But most of the ground are peat too so the water can be acidic. I know those pitcher plants like acidic water and doesn't require a lot of nutrient but I tried a few in my bog and it's growing fine.
     
    Nepen, Oct 5, 2016
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  12. pastures

    pastures Dauphene Duck

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    "Yes;" you are right about a bog; I misused that word. Here in Louisiana, we have swamps which continuously cleanse water. We also have about twenty water plants that are both decorative and contribute to the health of water. Most of our soils naturally have low ph: 4.0-5.5. I understand that the key, to maintaining a self-sustaining body of water, is balance between the plants and animals producing nutrients and the microorganisms consuming those nutrients. According to Robert Pavlis, a 1-foot shallow area by whatever chosen width (dependent upon volume of pond water) surrounds the deeper water which becomes home to water plants and microorganisms which consume nutrients from the pond water. Rocks and gravel placed in that shallow area provide space for those microorganisms to thrive - "slime" is good.

    Presently I have a pond to "improve" and a second one to construct hopefully during this coming winter. Again, these opportunities are dependent upon my client's needs and finances. I also hope to work with a Louisiana grower of natural flora to develop an expanded sources of water plants. Thank you for your response, and greetings to TurtleMommy.
     
    pastures, Oct 5, 2016
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  13. pastures

    pastures Dauphene Duck

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    pastures, Oct 5, 2016
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    pastures Dauphene Duck

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    Greetings Nepen.
    I believe that you are right in all plant examples. Louisiana iris is almost a "weed;" it flourishes everywhere . . . especially where the soils are continuously wet. I am not familiar with swamp milkweed. According to my written source (Robert Pavlis) the "key" nutrient consumption are the microorganisms already and naturally found in both water and soil. [Basically, I am treading carefully on the very sharp edge of my knowledge.]
     
    pastures, Oct 5, 2016
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    Nepen

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    Hi :)
    I have a 'bog' as my filtration for the pond, about the same description as what you quoted. mine is only about 1-2 feet deep with gravel filled. lots of irises and other water (marsh/swamp) type of plants. I also have 30 feet long stream with gravel. So I think I have ample place for those microorganisms to thrive. So.. The plants in the bog is helping with getting the consumption of Nitrate. At the beginning of summer I had a lot of string algae but throughout the summer the algae reduced with the growth of other plants. (I'm so not scientific so I say what I saw and experience only) so my thought is the plants in the bog helped with the algae and I dont really have to do any water change (unless i want to get rid of the algae for my son's b-day party lol)
     
    Nepen, Oct 5, 2016
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  16. pastures

    Meyer Jordan Tadpole

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    Just read Mr. Pavlis' blog post on ponds that is posted on his website 'Garden Myths'.
    For the most part he does hit on the highlights of Freshwater ecology. What he gives little attention to and is the prime driver in the need for pumps and supplemental filtration in most instances is.....Fish.
    The presence of fish (of any kind) in a pond drastically changes the dynamics of said pond by greatly influencing water chemistry and hence quality.
    Do not make the mistake of confining all of your reading and research to one source especially if the information is anecdotal.
     
    Meyer Jordan, Oct 5, 2016
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  17. pastures

    pastures Dauphene Duck

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    Thank you, again, Nepen for your response. Different from your installation, my clients want a depth of at least 6'; most want 10'-12' for fish - not for koi or goldfish. Because of our predominant flat land surface, depth adds problems with both air and temperature - ingredients for temperature inversions and fish kills. Most often clients revert to what they grew up with and exposed to as children for swimming and fishing. I readily accept their pre-conceived images as my chance to begin challenging and expanding both their curiosity and ownership of their "new" pond. [Educated clients are fun to work with and for - they quickly become valid owners of either success or failure of their investment, similar to your enthusiasm. We then become "partners" in conceiving and achieving their "image."]

    Our flat topography, with little to no slope, eliminates large enough streams to become a viable, visual asset. Besides, our water table remains so high. Constructing a stream on a flat surface adds a critical expense which usually does not generate a strong return on its investment (build-up of soil base, underlayment for the stream, and efficient pumps - usually electrical). By the way, I love to build/create streams and waterfalls. They fulfill so many of our collective senses for well-being.

    I believe that I have about twenty, dynamic (color and size) water plants to use here in Louisiana. Your description of your installment sounds perfect; I am just beginning down this long, very interesting journey. I congratulate you.
     
    pastures, Oct 5, 2016
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    pastures Dauphene Duck

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    pastures, Oct 5, 2016
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    Meyer Jordan Tadpole

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    From what you have posted, I would say that your biggest obstacle is the high water table in your area. Not only will excavation be difficult, if even possible, the issue of hydrostatic pressure will need to be dealt with before any type of membrane liner can be installed. Failure to do so will only result in floating liner or what we call in the industry 'Whales'.
     
    Meyer Jordan, Oct 5, 2016
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  20. pastures

    pastures Dauphene Duck

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    I agree. My google search has generated little information on self-sustaining ponds. Amazon have listed a few instructional "how-to's." Most local ponds (southern Louisiana) have no moving water through them, and yet they support much life (aquatic and flora). My google search did, nevertheless, listed this forum. I now feel blessed by your presence, interest and experience and by the many other members' advice. I noticed that Pavlis kept the number of fish extremely limited in number/pounds but that he deliberately wanted no outside sources of energy: pumps and man-made filtration. Lastly, I am lucky also to have the National Resource Conservation Service as an initial contact before I even begin digging.
     
    pastures, Oct 5, 2016
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