Rainy Day Ruminations

It’s raining, and it’s Monday. So, it’s back to work finding things to do that are either: 

a) Indoor work (such as writing in this poor neglected Blogspace)

b) Outdoor work that’s worth getting wet for (like fixing a leaky roof)

Today I worked some Spring cleaning of my Beaver Den in preparation for the next phase of development–namely, putting a new roof on and reorganizing my covered space to be more efficient for what I want to use it for.

I also braved the sleet and snow-free drizzle to work on my latest sunken bed. This is Version 2 of what will eventually be an adaptable system for dry-lands agriculture. I call it the “Rutan Integrated Sunken Bed” for lack of a better name for it, and it combines hugelkultur and aquaponics, circulating as it will the wastes from a downhill pond through piled wood and soil. Fungus should grow to take advantage of the wastes, and hopefully enough bacteria to convert the ammonia and nitrites to nitrates accessible by the plans to be grown. We’ll see how it works and make changes for the next version. I still haven’t figured out for sure what plants to use for testing the system’s effectiveness. I’m thinking I might make it an herb bed with tall dry herbs (thyme, oregano) on the South side, water loving herbs in the center, and shade-appropriate plants on the North side. Any suggestions?

Rutan Integrated Sunken Bed V2.0

A photo of a picture — not as good as the picture itself, but what’ya gonna do?

I started digging the drain, which was actually made easier by the rain as I get a very clear visual of where the water wants to go without needing measuring devices. I also started puddling the bottom of the bed, i.e. stomping the wet clay so that smaller particles move to the top, creating a (somewhat) impervious layer to water flow. I’m adding straw and rotting leaves to the mix to form a cob-like barrier that hopefully will crack less and provide a nutrient rich layer for bio-films to grow in. The bed does not need to be water-proof, just to bias it towards flowing the water downhill to the pond — which I will probably use a liner for. This is more of an art-work in progress than a technology, a technique and a process rather than a perfect finished product. It’s possible that I would be better off by simply digging a pit and filling it with wood and say futz to all the complicated(ish) systems I’m trying to integrate. Well, I’ve got that bed–it was version 1. Time will tell whether one bed works better or worse than another, and honestly, I’ll never really know why.  Different positions, different orientations, different contents, different plants growing. This is a mani-variable experiment.

Integrated Bed V2

Woodpecker Tree!