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Rice Folly Part II

May 13, 2012

A couple weeks back my rice growing folly was confessed publicly ( click here if you missed it) and the partially completed paddy was unveiled.

I have fielded several inquiries since then as word has spread locally among the ragtag group of “this is not your mother’s garden” type gardeners who have become interested in this project. With the recent progress in this boondoggle I figured it is time to post an update, so here goes:

First, a couple of pictures showing the upper paddy construction in progress so that the water retention system is more obvious.

The first step was to excavate a 12″ deep basin that is roughly the size of the upper frame (previously constructed from 2x4s). Then I cut short legs and attached these to the frame; the height from the bottom of the leg to the top edge of the frame is 9″ which allows for 5-6″ depth of soil (or more accurately “muck”) and 3-4″ of weed suppressing water on top. The frame width was cut with this in mind; A width of 28″ allows for this (48″ liner – 18″(9″ depth x2) – 2″ (1″ overlap to secure to frame x 2).

Once the frame legs were attached I leveled the frame in the basin using pieces of bricks as footings and my rough-in was complete:

(Note how close I came to cutting one of my irrigation spur lines with the hoe. oops):

The next step was to cut and staple the liner in; I was careful to add the same 20″ extra to the length of the basin to compensate for the 9″ depth and 1″ overlap on each end.

Saturday morning got up in distraction mode and decided that transplanting the seedlings into the lower original paddy would be a good thing to do with a big mug of coffee @ 7:30 on a Saturday morning.

The seedling barges had been floating in the lower paddy for a few days and the higher nutrients in this pool (vs the pond) jumped their growth rate up nicely.

The seedlings the day before transplanting:

In the morning I set the speedling trays out on the edge of a bed to drain a little before I started the transplanting. As you can see, the roots were already well developed and heading “south”:

10 or 12 ounces of fresh dark roasted coffee later, I had a populated paddy:


I spent the rest of the morning working on the much procrastinated upper paddy and eventually got it lined, properly back-filled and filled with 5″ of clay soil, ground rock sand (from the well drilling last year), peat & and composted manure. With the top edge or sill installed and the area around it smoothed and mulched, the paddy system was 99% complete. I’ll plant the upper bed’s rice directly by laying the seed on top of the soil and slowly raining the water level as the seed begins to sprout.

There is a spillway under the lip of the top bed so that overflow drains into the lower bed.

From this angle you can see the “drain”:

I still haven’t secured a “gate” at the other end of the lower bed and have been controlling the water level just by adjusting a loose 2×4 under the end of the liner; I need to figure something out there and trim the excess liner off a bit. After the harvest next month, I’ll move the small garlic bed over a foot or so for more room.

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