POND DREAMS

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In the beginning, when all the leaves were raked away...
In the beginning, when all the leaves were raked away...

You may have been wondering about my absence here at the blog lately. It’s all the pond’s fault. I’ve been captive to this project for many months now, and it’s just such glorious fun creating this thing that I have a very hard time talking myself into coming indoors to eat, blog, cook, pay bills, whatever. Nothing seems quite as compelling to me as moving big stones around, slopping in muddy water, and wrestling with pond liner.

Although I’ve been picking away at it since last fall, we finally were able to afford a piece of pond liner, so that put me into a state of high gear pond construction these past few weeks.

Filling after the first dig. Hmmm, let's see what we've got here...
Filling after the first dig. Hmmm, let's see what we've got here...

The original owners of our house had created the pond and waterfall, which has been buried under leaves and soil runoff for at least a decade, and I suspect much longer. When I dug it out, I found cracked and buckled concrete, and unevenly sloped ground.

Lucky for me, the permaculture course Carter and I signed up for last spring had a two-day workshop on pond creation. Here’s a link to the creation of that pond, which is about four times the size of my little endeavor: http://tendrepress.com/archives/category/urban-farmstead. Working on that community pond gave me the courage to attempt recovery of what was left of the water feature in our yard.

I must tell you that it is far easier to create a pond from scratch—at least in my experience—than it is to reclaim one. But I’ve wanted a backyard pond all my life, so we broke out the old concrete, I dug the old pond deeper, then tried to level the ground around it somewhat.

I am no engineer. I do not understand flow dynamics, either. We won’t discuss how many days I spent trying to see if I could get an upper bog area (for filtration), a small connecting pond/stream for frogs and such, and a small fish pond all flowing in the right direction. I dug, I redug, I filled in, I played with yard sticks and levels and the hose.

Line the whole thing with old carpet, towels, and clothes...
Line the whole thing with old carpet, towels, and clothes...

What I ended up with is not at all what I envisioned, but it is taking on a life of its own, as any project will if given the room to do so. So far, it is all dug out, the liner is in, I reset all the stones and then some around the perimeter. Then, I hunted the woods and neighbor’s ponds for pond plant life. Yesterday, I put two bags of soil into what will be a small, triangular bog area for turtles, frogs, and whatever else would care to move in.

So far, despite all my experimental filling and refilling of the pond, I have not seen one frog so much as dip a toe into my creation. Then, yesterday afternoon, when I’d drained and mucked all the mud my “creating” had slopped into the pond bottom, I had my much anticipated visitor. Carrying out my sandwich to eat at the empty pond’s edge, I surprised a lovely, big, green frog, who launched himself square into the middle of the one meager cup of water left in the pond bottom. He’s living in a small rock cave at the side of the bog now. Needless to say, I am enraptured!

Wrestle with stones and hollow logs.
Wrestle with stones and hollow logs.

Tomorrow, the pea gravel goes in, and then I can start setting out my coveted little water plants. And set some more stones. And find some ferns for the pond edges, and fill up the big hollow log I dragged up from the creek with some soil, and plant it with whatever I can find. I need to make a small sign:

“Open for Occupancy.

All Are Welcome.

No Reservations Needed.”

I’ll keep filling you in with photos and stories of pond guests and new residents! By the way, does anyone know of a pond-type fish that doesn’t eat tadpoles??

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