Natural ecosystem

19 01 2008

The lawnmower guys came a few weeks ago, before Christmas. We’ve had a LOT of hot weather since then and the lawn out the front of the house is as dry as. It’s not dead, but we’re not watering it, so if we get a really long hot spell, it will die off. But the back lawn is a different story!

Again, we don’t water it, and until the lawnmower guys came two days ago, it was growing like a weed! Why? Because I think we have our own little mini-ecosystem happening out there. Here’s a pic of the fairly steep back lawn and fruit trees (with a back shed we don’t use hidden in the background):

Backyard ecosystem

So, what’s happening here? Why is this area so lush and green and rampant and the front so dry and brown?

I put it down to gravity combined with a septic and leach drain system! Our house is on a hill (as all houses in Bridgetown are), and we’re near the top of one hill. Our backyard slopes down quite steeply—it’s steep enough that we have three levels out the back separated by retaining walls. The final section has no retaining walls, but that’s because it just has some fruit trees and no buildings except two sheds. The main house is one level down from the road, and the three levels at the back step down from there.

With no sewerage system, the grey and black water waste from the house ends up in the septic tank, and then leaches in to the soil. If you look at that photo, you can probably guess that the septic tank is on the level immediately below the house! We’ve never found it, but we figure that’s where it is…

No wonder the lemon tree (closest in the picture and situated on the second level) is so prolific! It just LOVES the food and water it’s getting, and rewards us handsomely with more lemons than we know what to do with. I can’t deal with all the lemons—I freeze some, give some to friends, but now give the bulk of them to the local hotel which uses them for in the bar (that slice of lemon has to come from somewhere…) and in the restaurant’s kitchen.

The cycle of life at work.