Since then, things haven’t worked out quite so well with this design. Firstly, we encountered problems with the actual guttering which requires maintenance at least twice yearly, and secondly, one of the stones placed at the edge of the pond to help support the liner fell in and ripped the material. Three failed attempts were made to fix the liner, which eventually started to deteriorate in other places due to being exposed to the strong summer sun. From then on, the water level only reached around 30cm in depth and although it became a haven for frogs and grass snakes, essentially we were left with a gaping hole in a prime piece of land, and no solution to the irrigation issue. So earlier this year, we decided to dig in the pond, salvaging what we could of the liner, and are now in the process of creating a new design for the area which will include a small wildlife pond.
|The area has grown up, mainly with wild native plants|
Together with the ESC volunteers, we have identified 3 main purposes of the new design, listed here, in order of our priority;
2. To enhance biodiversity. Our aim is to include a variety of different habitats within the design.
3. To be aesthetically pleasing. This area is the first place you see as you enter the property.
Access is one of the most important aspects to consider in any design. Some of the main things to consider when designing access include:
Visualising Future Growth – Visualise the mature size of the growth within your polycultures when designing access. Will the access you have put in place be overwhelmed by plant growth? Will you be able to harvest effectively when the plants are mature and what pruning management might be required to keep the access clear? Plants can grow very quickly and even after rearing 1000ʼs of plants, it’s still surprising to see how fast certain plants quickly dominate a space.
Avoid Compaction – It’s extremely beneficial to keep the access within your polyculture restricted to the same area to avoid compaction. In fact, one of the simplest and most effective things you can do to create healthy soil and plants is to avoid compaction. Compaction reduces the spaces between the soil particles. These spaces store vital gases when the soil is dry, water when the soil is soaked and are the primary habitat for the soil microbes that protect and feed the plants and that build long term water and fertility storage in the soils. So permanent fixed access should be a priority of your polyculture design
Comfortable Access – Access should be comfortable – even, smooth ground, without the need to duck or swerve as you walk, and should drain well to avoid puddling during wet weather. You should be able to comfortably reach where you need to for management task such as chop and drop, pruning and harvesting without stretching or treading on the soil. The below measurements are some recommended widths for general purpose access;
600mm – comfortable for one person
800mm – comfortable for one person with wheelbarrow or trailer
900mm – allows two people to just pass
1200mm – allows one person with wheelbarrow and other person to pass
We’ll be posting more about this design in the coming weeks and photos of our progress as we start to implement it so keep an eye out for that :) You can also check out the ESC volunteer’s personal blog of their experiences here
|Markus, Ru and Fanny helping an elderly family to pick figs|