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Create a balcony swamp bed: how it works!
Nature conservation begins on the doorstep, and many dream of a garden pond, but only have a balcony or terrace. Swamp beds and mini ponds offer an alternative for the small space. If necessary, a square meter, a mortar tub, water and plants are enough.
The ecological benefit
Native swamp plants such as loosestrife or riparian plants like meadowsweet are excellent bee pastures; certain wild bees even specialize in loosestrife. Butterflies and many other insects also control the flowers as a source of food. Insects and birds use the surface of the water as a trough, the birds bathe in shallow areas.
Mortar tub or wine barrel
You can create a swamp bed with pond liner if you have enough soil. However, this is about simple but practical variants. You take a wine barrel, an old wooden tub, a discarded bath, laundry or mortar tub. The look is a matter of taste. Such a utensil is often found with grandparents, in the attic or flea market.
If you do not have such a junk at hand, a mortar pan is ideal. These are available in round or square, and they are also called mortar boxes. The sizes are between around 45 and 200 liters - the pond on the balcony or terrace should already have at least 90 liters.
Dig the tub into the earth
If you have a few square meters of floor space, be it in a courtyard or front yard, dig a hole that is slightly larger than the tub, put the tub in and fill the "air holes" on the four walls with earth. You use the remaining earth as a “bank wall”. Shovel a layer of earth about 5 cm high onto the bottom of the tub.
If you want to grow underwater plants, this layer of earth is enough. Do you want marsh plants to anchor themselves in the ground? Then we recommend planting baskets, which you weigh down with several kilograms of river gravel, so that you don't drift on the surface.
Then you can attach them to the shore with slate slabs, natural stones, pieces of bark or branch cut. Put these staggered over the corners, then everything looks more natural.
Now fill the tub with water. If you have a rain barrel and the water in it doesn't rot, use the rainwater.
The following applies to the planting inside the "mini pond": less is more. It looks bare at first, and many want to see their house swamp immediately as a jungle with frog, but the plants grow faster than most people think: a single swamp sill lily easily fills the entire tub in two years so that no more water is added see is.
Possible plants are: marsh marigold, the bright red flowering loosestrife, meadowsweet, lizard tail, swamp lily or frog spoon. To cover the artificial character, you can plant garden plants around the tub: chives, cranesbill or lady's mantle are very suitable, various types of fern are particularly suitable in the shade or penumbra. If you plant grasses, make sure that they grow clumpy, otherwise you will grow into the water, which can also be an interesting effect.
Do you want an open water surface? Then you can not plant anything and wait for the water to develop.
Underwater or swamp?
Are you interested in a pond atmosphere and less in a swamp bed? Then you can plant plants that float on the water and draw their nutrients from the water, especially the duckweed. It has no special requirements, and if it expands too much, you can simply fish it out with a net.
If you prefer marsh plants that spread, like irises or loosestrife, then there is no room for underwater plants. To settle underwater plants, it is advisable to plant around the tub, but do not bring swamp plants into the tub itself, or if so, only in a plant container. Suitable underwater plants are crab claws, waterweed or thousand leaf.
Do you keep the area around the tub moist, for example by temporarily allowing the water to overflow? Then mini-tube pistons are also suitable as border plants.
Mini pond or mini swamp?
However, if you do not even have a balcony, but only a windowsill, various rectangular bowls made of porcelain, ceramics and terracotta are suitable, as well as flower boxes that are specially designed for the windowsill. Here you have to glue the drain holes with silicone.
They fill in water, preferably rainwater, and make sure that the box is not under one roof so that new rainwater can enter. They water regularly and profusely. If the tub dries out in midsummer, that's no problem. This is exactly what happens in a swamp - amphibians even rely on it because the fish and dragonfly larvae that eat the tadpoles die when they dry out.
You can choose a sump or pond box. Marsh plants want a soil that is completely saturated with water, but without the surface being flooded with water. In nature, these are the siltation zones of the lake or sinks, which are fed with groundwater. Upholstery plants or perennials that form clumps are dominant here.
The ideal thing is a rain barrel that has a drain and can constantly lead water into the bed with a hose. You can also simply water a box regularly with the watering can. As long as you see water, everything is fine. If not, check the floor. If it is damp, everything is still paletti, it only becomes problematic when the entire bed dries out for a long time.
Swamp bed means the edge of the bank
In such a swamp bed, the best plants are those that colonize the riparian zone in nature. These include the fever clover and the Günsel, the checkerboard and lye flower, the pennywort, the marsh fern and the swamp primrose, the swamp gladiolus or the swamp horsetail.
Do you want to help endangered bees and other insects? Wasserdost is an excellent bee pasture. It has few requirements apart from moist earth and grows up to 140 cm high. Meadowsweet also serves as food for the bees, is also natural aspirin, the flowers and leaves can be processed into a sweet tea, and the plants exude the smell of spring honey.
To create a swamp bed, the best thing would be to get a layer of real swamp soil. But there is another way: You take compost or potting soil, add 10% sand, and three handfuls of mulching leaves. The humus in real swamps consists of decaying plant remains.
Peat is no go
Natural gardeners do not use peat! Peat forms in the bog, and that's where it belongs. Peatlands are one of the most threatened habitats in Germany, and the wilderness on the balcony is supposed to give wild animals and wild plants a chance and not to destroy them.
Is your terrace on a slope? Do you have a “problem area” in the front yard where the water does not drain? Perfect? Use this soil compaction and use swamp plants. You don't need to do more.
A swamp bed is perfect for changing weather conditions with massive rainfall and dry spells. Marsh plants can easily survive dry periods and at the same time love moisture, which kills more sensitive plants. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)