Five year clear out

It has been 5 years since we cleaned out the pond, and silt from autumn leaves is building up. Time for a clear out, and these are the tools:

 A wide plastic toothed rake for the pond bottom and a grass rake for shovelling out the debris.

They say the mud in a pond deepens by half an inch a year or thereabouts, which is why round here farm ponds are cleared every 50 years or so. As I’ve mentioned before, there’s a school of thought that ponds should be left to mature untouched for the sake of  the wildlife, but I don’t agree. It was astonishing how quickly the flora and fauna returned after completely emptying and desilting in 2011.

I sketched the pond in my notebook, dividing it into 4 sections. I waited till November, well after the  last amphibians have left the pond, put on my waders, and systematically raked the bottom of two of the sections with the big yellow rake shown above, and then made a note on my sketch of which bits I had done. Next year I will rake the remaining two sections. Not having done this exercise before, I thought  I’d wait a season to see what impact the raking was having. I’m not concerned about the invertebrates and amphibians, but I do want to check the effect on blanket weed growth, because I will be stirring up the nutrients that seem to encourage them.

Raking was aimed at pulling large piles of debris to the edge where I then scooped it out with the smaller grass rake onto an old plastic tarpaulin on the bank – important because the slurry otherwise makes such a mess of the grass and plantings. I then used a wheelbarrow – about 20 loads – to distribute the muddy piles of rotten leaves and twigs in the garden.

 As this picture sort of shows, it does dry out into something very like compost. Meanwhile, the bottom of the pond is visible again, rather than a layer of rotting leaves.

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