Water in the Hole

You’d think that living on an island would be a year-round water extravaganza but it isn’t necessarily so. The skin of soil over the rocks here is very thin and the lakes and ponds are seasonal, rising and falling with spring snow-melt and summer rain. This year’s winter didn’t bring much in the way of snow and July and August have so far been merciless in terms of heat and drought. The soil is rock hard, shifting to dust while the grass crinkles underfoot.

Enter the stand pipe, or dug well, or surface well, for irrigation. About three of our five acre plot is bog and in previous drought years I’ve looked at the small, deep pockets of stagnant water and wondered if there was any way to move that to the garden. Last Thursday a local construction crew came by with a small excavator, carved out an 8′ hole, stood a 10′ long 24″ culvert in it and backfilled with gravel.

Culvert set into a hole containing standing water, backfilled with peastone
Stand pipe, surface well, dug well

Ten years ago when I was looking for a solar pump for this (future) project the price was prohibitive for a small garden irrigation system; the cheapest model was $1,500.00. This winter I purchased a submersible pump, controller, and panel for under $200.00 and it’s more powerful than many of the pricier models on the market a decade ago. I did have to purchase a 12v battery but the set-up went smoothly and we were pumping water with the power of the sun only a few hours after the excavator left the site.

This is the view down the standing culvert to the water level. The pump is submerged at the end of the nylon rope and can be raised or lowered, power cable and exit hose are ziptied together on the left.

The construction happened last week and since then the water has cleared and the bottom of the well has receded as the silt settles. The drought has taken its toll on the fruit tree crops and potato yields, but this little well has probably saved the tomatoes and second crops of lettuces and brassicas. Job well done!

I also met a new friend who lives under a hollow stump behind the well. Meet Pancake.

American Bullfrog
American Bullfrog