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Del Monte, Arcola
Del Monte, Arcola
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Via del Monte, Arcola, La Spezia, IT
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Pond and slope management

Project: Del Monte, Arcola

Posted by Heiko Vermeulen almost 11 years ago

Pond construction to slow water run-off and erosion as well as terracing and planting.

This year's big project was to construct a pond.  Initially this was to combat a mosquito problem on our land.  There was no standing water, but due to our land being located within an amphitheatre-like bowl, protecting it from prevailing winds, mosquitos found a perfect home.  The pond is to help increase biodiversity and attract mosquito eating frogs, bats and other wildlife, and the plan is to introduce fish next spring to deal with the larvae.  In good permaculture fashion, the pond has multiple functions, including an improved micro-climate in one of the colder spots, collect water and slow erosion and topsoil loss on our steep hillside (average gradient 40%).

We placed the pond at the keypoint of the slope and made it long (7m) with varying depths (up to 1.6m) and narrow, thus increasing the edge effect too and taking in two waterflows which have caused us problems with landslides in the past.  The soil on the site is very clayey, so the hope was that it would seal naturally.  Last weekend we had some 70mm rain and it started filling up nicely, at least the deeper part.

We've had a bunch of helpers working on it for much of the summer:

Helpers digging the pond

Before the winter rains set in my next concern was the earth excavated from the pond, which was lying loose and ready to roll below the pond, so my solution was to sow farro, a local and ancient variety of spelt on the less steep part, so that the roots would keep the soil in place in much the same way grass would


The steeper bit below that I made some sub-terraces from some old mirrored wardrobe doors and planted broad beans in it to get some nitrogen into the otherwise poor soil.  The mirrors help warm the micro-climate too.


Also below the pond I have constructed what I like to call a 'reverse hugelkultur', e.g. filling in a gap, rather than building a mound with woodt sraps, in this case mostly hazel prunings

This is what it looked like during the planning stage:

Last weekend we had some pretty heavy rains and so far so good, it's all holding, but the pond isn't 100% sealed yet.  One plan was to sow clover seeds to alter the ph and therefore get the clay particles to clump together.  However the clover has failed to germinate so far.  I might still resort to a bentonite sealing, just buying a few bags of untreated, natural cat litter, which is made from bentonite.  See how the rest of the winter goes.



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Heiko Vermeulen
Heiko Vermeulen : Now for some reason the photos didn't want to turn up on this. For more check out my blog on pathtoselfsufficiency.blogspot.com
Posted almost 11 years ago

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