As dabbling ducks, the birds tear at grass and weeds around their dish while feeding, including eating grit and soil which aids their digestion. When fed a wet mix their dishes end up with a film of mud left behind. After feeding the birds I rinse their dishes in the laundry. To avoid clogging drains and the septic system I rinse and wash their dishes in a plastic tub which sits inside the stainless steel laundry tub. I can then empty the water from their dishes onto the garden, returning soil, any food particles and the inevitable “fertiliser” that they add while each manoeuvres for the best position around the dish, often resulting in one or two standing in their food.
I decided to develop the area by the back door into a small bed to take advantage of the waste water from washing their dishes. This adheres to the principle of using everything to its highest capacity, the water washes the dishes, the water feeds plants and returns the mud to the garden complete with a nutrient load, the plants will feed us and the ducks.
I chose a spot by the back door because of its proximity to the laundry, I don’t have far to carry a heavy tub of water, and being in the tropics, I can stand on the steps under the cover of the awning during the wet season and toss the water over the railing – my energy input is minimised.
Over a period of weeks I fed the ducks in the same spot each day, taking advantage of their habit of dabbling while feeding to clear grass and weeds from the spot I wanted to develop. Once sufficiently clear I gathered some wire to encircle the bed and the stored newspapers to line the bottom of the bed. I had already pulled a number of weeds from pathways that I regularly traversed, along with a few tip prunings of bushes that were overhanging the paths, and piled these on top of the newspaper leaving them to dry a few days.
Over the next few weeks further weeds and prunings will be added to build up the bed, which will be finished on top with a layer of compost into which seeds will be sown. The weeds and prunings below will decompose over time providing further compost. New prunings and weeds will be added to the surface as mulch once the seedlings have sufficiently developed. The main constraint upon this bed will be selection of plants to grow due to the acidity of the bore water which is plumbed to the house. I have chosen to grow tomatoes here as they prefer an acid soil and past experience has shown them to be tolerant of bore water.