paul wheaton
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Posts: 53
Joined: Thu Apr 09, 2009 4:32 pm

Sepp Holzer on ponds and "The Monk"

Sepp, the permaculture king, does not like to draw pictures. In twelve days of training, Sepp never did a powerpoint, although he did have somebody else show some of his pictures from previous projects.

The way he conveys nearly all information is through telling stories and interpretive dance. By "interpretive dance" I mean that he speaks a lot through his hands. Maybe that was just because most of us in the audience didn't speak german - but I see him doing it in the german video too.

"The Monk" is something he frequently talks about. Through interpretive dance. He places his right elbow in his left hand and makes his right forearm perfectly vertical. After a second, he moves his right fist left and right a few inches.

I've seen him do this about 40 times now.

All ponds have a high flow over flow that is used sporatically, but the monk is there for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It is a pipe that goes through the dam at a low point. Inside the pond there is an elbow that will connect this pipe with a pipe that goes to the surface. The top of the second pipe will then determine the water level of the pond.

These two pipes and the elbow are "The Monk". The key is, that the elbow is a tight fit, but can still slide a little. So if you move the monk side to side, you can adjust the depth of the pond.

When we were at Mowich farm, Sepp was quick to point at a culvert and holler "catastrophe!" (a word that must be the same in german and english). He then tells a story about how there will be a great rain storm at 2am and the culvert plugs, the water rises, runs over the dam and the dam is destroyed. As part of the story he holds his hands together and places them next to his head to show the pond owner asleep at 2am.

Later that day, I asked if the monk would ever plug: "NEVER!" The interpretive dance had the body language of waving me off because I'm a stupid child (with good humor). He then talked about how they use the monk in some interesting ways to "vacuum" up algae, elodea and even silt. They would go so far as to attach poly pipe to the end of the monk and then buzz around the pond sucking up all sorts of things. And what's fun is to put an even longer pipe on the downhill side and then you get super duper suction power.

Later I asked Josef, who tends to be a bit more humble: he says that it is true, you can have all sorts of leaves and other debris in the pond and monks just don't seem to plug up.

So, I'm thinking about this ... and I think I can see it ... because 1/16 or 1/8 of an inch of water goes over the edge of the monk and into the monk. Then debris, which is gonna have some in the water and some out, won't be able to make that tiny, sharp, downard turn. Debris would just sit around outside the monk. The culvert could do the same trick if it were lower in the dam and had an upwards elbow. Big sticks and logs ... the only stuff that could plug the 18 inch culvert we were looking at ... would not be able to get over the edge of the same culvert standing on end.

I have lots and lots more to say about all of this, but for now I need to post what I've written so far and make some pictures to better explain myself ....
Last edited by paul wheaton on Tue Nov 10, 2009 5:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

paul wheaton
Full Member
Posts: 53
Joined: Thu Apr 09, 2009 4:32 pm

So here is my rendition of a pond with a standard culvert.

And here is my rendition of the same pond with the culvert modified so that it will, in theory, not plug. I can just hear Sepp getting all upset over my use of the word "theory", because to him, it is absolute fact.

[img]https://www.permies.com/permaculture-images/1360_175/culvert_1.gif[/img]

[img]https://www.permies.com/permaculture-images/1360_176/culvert_2.gif[/img]
Last edited by paul wheaton on Fri Jun 12, 2009 2:40 pm, edited 2 times in total.

paul wheaton
Full Member
Posts: 53
Joined: Thu Apr 09, 2009 4:32 pm

Now I've zoomed in on the stick coming up on the culvert ...

And I've tried to modify the picture a little to show the stick much closer to the culvert. The stick will stop at the outside edge of culvert and go no further.

[img]https://www.permies.com/permaculture-images/1360_177/culvert_3.gif[/img]

[img]https://www.permies.com/permaculture-images/1360_178/culvert_4.gif[/img]

2cents
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Posts: 616
Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2009 9:04 am
Location: Ohio

The spring fed pond where we swam as kids had one of these. In fact both ends were pointing up. The second was 10-20 feet deeper. Where it dumped out is where the creek started again, say 50 feet south of the pond.
IMHO



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