Soil

Spring?

pondhole3

That looks different.

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Let’s go check it out.

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pondhole

J brought his infrared thermal imager to the scene and, as you would expect, there is a “warm” spot in the area that is not frozen. There is a relative difference of about 9 degrees F. in that area compared to its surrounding.

Here’s a theory. A little over two years ago, I started the groundwork for our orchard. We dug about 570 linear feet of on-contour berms and swales upslope of this little pond. Already, it looks so different with shrubs, trees, and perennial grasses, plants, and weeds growing there. It is, also, functioning differently, in that; water captured in the swales percolates into the soil much more quickly.

I’ve been observing this pond, almost daily, for four winters. I’ve never seen this “hole” in the ice before this year. I’m seeing the phenomenon every time the pond freezes this winter. We were informed that there were no springs on this property. This man-made pond captures runoff from the upper slopes. We fully expected that there was a seep here as the pond never dried up. It got low but never dry in the time that I’ve been here. Downslope from this pond is Rattlesnake Run.

I’m suspecting that this feature in the ice represents the emergence of an active spring where there had only been a low flow seep feeding the pond. That would be a nice surprise after such a dry fall season. If this is indeed a spring, if it is really “new;” Could it be related to the swales that I dug two years ago?

Swales capture water from the rainfall as well as run off from the slope above them. I have understood that when you build swales there is potential for new springs to emerge lower on the slope. The following well-written explanation comes from www.permaculturefoodforest.wordpress.com.

 The purpose of a swale is to harvest water passively. Over time, this will establish a permanent growing system, storing moisture in the soil for long-term food and water security. They also help deal with storm water run-off, and reduce erosion by slowing down the flow of water. As water flows downward, the berm interrupts and collects it in the level bottom.  Water fills up the swale, the mound passively soaks it up, and forms an underground water lens of moist soil. This hydrates the soil and sub-soils below and boosts the effectiveness of horticulture and agroforestry. As the water percolates downward, it eventually hits the bedrock and moves horizontally, accumulating at the bottom of the lower slopes. Over time, this creates new springs, recharging aquifers and creating a natural water resource. 

 

The website goes into more detail about building a swale. The site, also, describes many other practical applications of permaculture design. It is definitely worth a visit. I’ll, certainly, be going back.

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Standing on pond ice, south of “spring” looking upslope toward orchard (top and upper left corner of pic) on 1/9/2017

As for the hole in the ice, we’ll keep watching. ..maybe some of us more closely than others!

ginkgoonpond

I’m interested in alternative theories! Send me a note!

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Categories: Orchard, permaculture, Soil, Strategies, Water | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

Soil Survey Map

There are so many critical functions and interconnections with regard to soil, it is hard to begin. I guess I will start with Artie who first bought this property in the 60’s. He seemed to know, full well, the importance of caring for the soil. In any case, he avoided causing direct harm to the soil and its biological life and he did not apply chemical fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides. This little 8.5 acres has been, lovingly, protected as organic for over 35 years.

Working with Web Soil Survey

soilmap

This is a screen shot of the soil map of the StellaLou property. Please, click on the photo to see the larger image. It details the different types of soil and their locations. This map has four types of soil identified and summarized on the left of the screen. Continue reading

Categories: Soil | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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