The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Stocking an earthen pond

Trout in a pondTim Matson didn't provide much information on pond biology because he was trying to keep the plants in his pond to a minimum.  However, he did include a list of flora in his section on wildlife ponds, mentioning that fish, ducks, and geese will all eat Sago pondweed, wild celery, coontail, elodea, muskgrass (gives fish an off flavor), arrowhead, wild Japanese millet, wild rice (needs flowing water), lotus, waterlilies, iris, pickerel plant, burr reed, cattails, smartweed, and bulrush.

Fish were more Matson's cup of tea, specifically trout.  As with the paucity of information on plant life, Matson didn't try to cover the needs of different kinds of fish, but he did warn new pond owners away from dropping fish into their water right away.  It often takes about a year for water quality to stabilize in an earthen pond, with initially low pH and low-dissolved-oxygen levels slowly being mitigated by an influx of organic matter and by the growth of microorganisms.  Short of buying water-testing equipment, the best way to know if your pond is ready for fish is to drop a few cheap ones in and see if they survive.

I hope you've enjoyed these tidbits from Earth Ponds, even though the information is more suited to half-acre-and-larger ponds than to little backyard water gardens.  As you can tell, I've been doing experiments of my own about how to make an earth pond that better fits the backyard, and I'll continue to keep you posted about the results.

Homegrown Humus walks you through adding free organic matter to your garden using cover crops.

This post is part of our Earth Ponds lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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