Archive | Koi and Goldfish RSS feed for this section

What is Meduseld Farm?

Meduseld Farm produces a variety of farm products, and remembering that we are stewards of the land and animals, tries to achieve this using methods that improve the local environment rather than hurting it.

Meduseld is Anglo-Saxon for “mead hall.” We chose this because of Anglo-Saxon roots in the family as well as the bees that we keep and the mead that we make for personal use.

We sell a variety of products and many of these are seasonal. We grow a large variety of fruits and vegetables and these are available at the Market at Silver Lake Farms during the summer months. Larger orders such as bushels of apples and tomatoes are available seasonably at our farm – please send us an email or priavate message on FB. We also have yarn, maple syrup (if the winter was obliging) and lambs for sale that we can deliver to the butcher for your convenience. From time to time we have broiler chickens available.

140b
137b

142b

We also have assorted beautiful Koi by appointment only. We have Sanke, Kohaku, Ogon, Shusui, Butterfly and more. They vary in size from about 6 inches to over a foot. We have placed a champagne bottle in one of the ponds for scale.

165b

150b

We have also been working on a one acre vineyard through trial and a great deal of error. Following early mistakes about planting, browsing by deer, and some setbacks due to late frosts, we have learned a great deal in the process. We have experimented with many varieties in order to see which would take to our soils and climate with the most vigor. Even this year, we are still planting and experimenting. We are adding more Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, and the Viognier (the State grape of Virginia) that we planted last year did very well so we will add more. Our goal is to have these grapes available for a pick-your-own operation so that people can make their own small batch wines for personal use. The varieties we have at present are: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Marechel Foch, Traminette, St. Vincent, De Chaunac, Carmenier, Chambourcin, Gruner Veltliner, and more. Hopefully we will be able to start the Pick-Your-Own program in 2020. Stay tuned for updates.

Steadler Noir Grape Vine

Steadler Noir Grape Vine

We are also trying a novel approach to the vineyard. Adopting influence from permaculture, we are raising the height of our vines to five feet and over. Not only do we hope this will limit the damage from deer, but we hope to replace the mower with sheep. Not only does this provide food for sheep and save us a great deal of work, but the sheep would in turn provide organic matter to the soil. There would have to be considerations for this, such as no animals in vineyard for months before harvest, and very little use of copper as a fungicide since sheep are susceptible to copper toxicity. We will keep you posted!

How to Lay Pavers for a Patio

As part of our 2014 garden expansion, we added a pond with waterfall.  In order to enjoy the beautiful, serene koi and goldfish, we planned a small patio made with pavers so that we can sit and enjoy the surroundings.

Pond with assorted Koi and Goldfish

Pond with assorted Koi and Goldfish

We cleared an area at the lower end of the pond and have placed rocks at the edges to contain the dirt and “blue stone,” a type of crushed stone dust available at hardward stores.  Blue stone, or stone dust, can be leveled and compacted and makes a durable under-surface for pavers and stones.

Stones show future edges.  Also note tool called a tamper.

Stones show future edges. Also note tool called a tamper.

Start backfilling some dirt into the area that will be raised for the patio surface.  If you are making your patio  flush with the ground, omit this step.  If making it flush, you will have to dig down and make a level area.  Plan on about two inches of stone dust and add the thickness of your pavers or stones, and this will give the the depth to dig.  In our example above, we are building up the level to accommodate the natural slope in the garden.

Whether you have dug down or added, it is important to make sure that your surface is level.

Checking with a level.

Checking with a level.

100_9138b

Now it’s time to add the blue stone or stone dust.  A small two by four can help spread the stone.

100_9140b

Check again with a level.  A surface that appears level can still be off.

100_9142b

Tamp your surface again firmly.

100_9143b

We have now prepared a good surface to bedding the pavers.  The pavers are going to be set at a random pattern to imitate cobble stone streets in Europe.  Even the pavers are in assorted colors in order to give a more historic feel.

100_9145b

If necessary, you can cut pavers with this tool, available to rent at many tool rental places.

100_9146b

Once you have laid the final pavers, pour a bag of stone dust onto the surface of your pavers.  Take a stiff broom and push as much stone dust between the stones as possible.  This significantly firms up the surface and will stabilize your patio, in addition to giving it a finished look.  We do not recommend sand for this step as it will eventually wash out between the stone when it rains.

100_9496b

Here is the finished patio.  Small, so that it does not take up valuable garden space, and perfect for intimate dinners and conversation over a glass of wine.

If you ‘d prefer to have one of these installed, please click on the Culver Design Build, Inc. link for more information!

Pond Question

I received a question about what we use in our pond to solve fish illnesses such as Ick and fungi.   Since the honey bees drink freely from this pond it is important to use products that are compatible with their health as well, and antibiotic-based “cures” don’t seem compatible.  Fortunately, I have found these all natural products for fish, and am putting them in our amazon store.  They are made with herbal extracts such as tea tree oil. 

100_9067b

 

Look closely, and you can see the honey bees drinking from the new pond, using the plants as little islands or “flotation devices.”

100_9069b

How to Create a Pond with Waterfall

Last week I shared my plans for adding to our permaculture garden, including installing a pond.  This weekend we got our project underway.  I am going to set out the steps for placing your own pond.  This will be a picture-intensive article, so it may take longer to load up.

Prepare your site by clearing it, and assess the area for soil conditions and how level or unlevel the ground is.  Our location is not level at all, and we are going to take advantage of this height change by creating a small waterfall effect at the upper end.  The upper layer of soil is not rocky, but below I quickly hit shale.  This is going to have to be removed with a pick and shovel.

Here I have started digging out the area in the approximate shape of the pond. 

100_8876b

Sloan is placing the pond form in the hole to mark areas that need to be dug.  Marking paint, available at hardware stores, is a very handy tool for this. 

100_8878b

This project became a family affair, with everyone clamoring to help dig.  If you look on the ground, you can make out the marking paint showing the areas that need to be dug deeper.

100_8881b

It is very important to keep returning the pond form to the hole and check it for accuracy of shape and being level.  Using a large level check how the pond lays in both directions.  A pond that is out of level will not hold as much water, and looks wrong.   If your level is not large enough to span the pond, you can use a 2×4 like this in order to verify the height on all sides of the pond.

100_8904b

It is a constant process of digging and checking.  Please don’t skip this step!

Dig a few inches deeper than you need in order to accommodate the pond.  This is so that you can place sand in the bottom of the hole.  You can also use “stone dust,” a fine crushed stone that is very stable.  Once again verify that your surface is level.

 

100_8913b

Now it’s time to permanently place the pond.  It is necessary to start filling it gradually before you backfill around the pond, otherwise the pond will rise out of the ground slightly as you fill dirt around it.  Here we have started filling with water, and Sloan is making final adjustments with the level before the pond becomes too heavy with water to shift anymore.

100_8915b

 

Now the entire pond edges have been back-filled and we can start placing the two cascade/waterfall “ponds.”  These will be set in concrete so that they do not shift.

100_8917b

We’d like to have a small cascade so that the water is aerated as it falls into the pond.  Using a Quickcrete mix, we begin to set the cascades.  Mix the concrete mix with water to the consistency of toothpaste and set the first cascade.  Make sure you check the level, and weight it with some stones or block so that it does not “heave” as the concrete sets.

100_8919b

Place some decorative stones around your base now.  Here we have placed the second level.

100_8921b

Now it is time to test the water pump.   I chose a pump from Lowes that is capable of pumping almost eight feet up.  While our cascade is not that tall, I did not want to use a smaller pump since I know this will be running 24/7. We’re testing to make sure the cascade is the way we want it, before the concrete dries!

100_8929b

Finally, the fun part – making the pond look like an element in nature by surrounding it with stones and plants.  You can place rocks around the edges, but we wanted to disguise the plastic edges of the pond somewhat and give the fish areas with cover.  You can see that the stones overlap the edges, making the pond blend in better and giving it a more authentic feel.  Here is the pond on the same day, now filled with water, plants even some goldfish!

100_8933b

 

If you’d like to have a pond like this installed, don’t hesitate to conttact our other compnay, Culver Design Build, Inc.  We’d be glad to help creat a bit of paradise in your yard.

Garden Expansion 2014

Undaunted by the 26 degree temperatures for last night, I sat and drew out plans for the  garden expansion.

We have two hoop houses near the house, and they have served the rotation of winter plants, chickens and this spring, bottle lambs.  The hoop house that bordered the garden has been my source of winter herbs.  I had an enormous rosemary plant, lemon thyme and sage that I could enjoy all winter.  Until this brutal winter at least, when even under their protection the plants succumbed to the bitter cold.

I have decided to relocate that hoop house and add that area to the existing permaculture garden.  The family enjoys this garden so much, and its maintenance is so easy, that expanding it seems like a wonderful way to add to it, diversify the plants even further, and add some movement to it – the movement is water!  A pond with a waterfall!  Hopefully, this will bring more birds and frogs, which will help with insect populations.  The garden has also become so enjoyable that we want a place where we can sit and appreciate it.

It’s best to put ideas into a plan, so with glass of wine in one hand and pen in the other, I sat last night and started drawing.  This sketch is not to scale, but you can recognize the maze-like elements of the existing garden.  The goal is to add growing area for plants, a pond, and a sitting area.  It would also be a plus to add a small tool shed. 

pondsketchb

Here is a picture of the garden edge with the hoop house being dismantled.  You can see the abrupt end and the bean stakes from last year.  we are going to move these and extend the path.  Here is the current state, and in the next picture I have marked the approximate area where we will place the future pond.  A pond is not merely ornamental.  It provides water for bees and birds.  It also becomes the place for mosquitoes to place their larvae, which are promptly eaten by foraging Koi and goldfish.  Despite living in a very remote location with several ponds, we have no mosquitoes!

100_8875b

 

 

The stone at the right tip is "Point A" for reference

The stone at the right tip is “Point A” for reference

 

The garden slopes gradually downhill, which is perfect in order to make a cascading waterfall.

Here is the inside of the hoop house as it is being taken apart. 

100_8874b

You can make out the remains of some of the herbs that were destroyed by the excessively cold winter.  This will all be incorporated into the garden.  The middle of this hoop house will become a small patio for a bistro set.

We have selected our pond and it is on hold at Lowes.  Here is a link to it.  Pond Liner  It is a large, 270 gallon capacity pond.  Its dimensions are approximately 7’x7′, which should fit neatly into the area I have designated for it.

 

pondliner

Surrounding the pond will be perennial vegetables such as asparagus (they have lovely ferns most of the year) and rhubarb, which some would actually call a fruit.  I will also transplant banana trees from the conservatory each year to give the sitting area a tropical feel as well as some shade. 

I will keep you posted on the progress with photos and instructions, especially for seating the pond liner correctly, and for installing the waterfall/cascade effect.