TIME TO CLEAN THE POND
the first of April I think about the ponds. The water lily leaves are
already at the top of the water and ready to go. The water is still very
cold and I like to spend as little time as possible wading in that cold
water. Therefore, it will be a few weeks before I actually get in and
clean it. Last fall I cut
off all the leaves so they wouldn’t rot in the water. I then took them
off the cement block they had been on all summer, and dropped them to
the bottom. My pond is 24 inches deep. The blocks are hollow thus giving
the fish a place to hide.
I have a little
pump to drain the water at least halfway down. A sump pump will work.
George has fixed an attachment to his pump that connects to a garden
hose. The trees enjoy the
water which is probably rich in fish waste. If the ponds (I have two)
are deep in mud I will take them all the way down. During a windy summer and winter a lot of dirt and leaves is
able to blow in.
Now to the
plant containers. I prefer round or oval containers to square ones. This
prevents the roots from getting stuck in a corner.
The roots are strong enough to rupture a plastic container if
they get stuck, and they are easier to remove and lift out when the
plants are divided. They need to be divided almost every year as there
may be as many as 4 or 5 new lilies in each pot that can be separated
and given away. When
transplanting, fill the new pot about 3/4th
full of heavy clay soil. Do not use potting soil as all the
organic material will float out. I often buy top soil to prevent digging
holes in my yard or garden. Also my soil floats since it has a high
content of compost. I plant the new division with its growing tip at the
edge of a round container or at one end of an oblong container. I want
it as far as possible from end of the container toward which it is
growing and pointing downward at an angle.
tabs” of fertilizer (aquatic plant food) can be pushed into the soil
but not touching the roots. I use 3 or 4 tabs, depending upon the size
of the container. Then more soil is placed over the root leaving the
growing tip out. Be careful not to harm that growing tip. Place a layer
of pea gravel or pebbles over the whole container so the soil does not
float away. Be careful not to cover the growing tip. The lily is
now ready to go back into the pond. Be sure and not let the plants dry
out. (The extra pieces of root I put in a wash tub of water in the shade
and pot them up later or give then to my friends.) The pond can now be
filled as fresh water doesn’t bother the plants.
If you had fish
in your tank, fresh water of a different temperature does bother them.
They need to be caught earlier and then put into a tub of their original
water. Sometimes I have 2 tubs of their water. First they go in one to
rinse off the mud of a dirty pond and then into the other tub. Make sure
you cover the tub with a wire netting as they are good at jumping out
and if the coons visit your yard, the fish are an excellent snack.
In the last few
years barley bales have become very popular to help keep down algae
growth. Now it comes in many forms. Bales for large ponds; pellets,
liquid extracts, and small
mesh covered bales for small ponds; and even a floating barley island
that you can float a plant on. This year I am trying the pellets where
one opens the bag and pours in the right amount for your size pond. The
barley needs to go in as early as possible as the barley works as it
Since my ponds
are small and I have six colors of lilies, there is no room for my hardy
water lotus. They have spent the winter in their pots beside the lilies
and the fish in the bottom of the pond. Since they don’t require a
large pond I divide them each year and get about 4 or 5 new babies. I
find the growing tip and handle it carefully. Any damage and it will
refuse to grow. These I put
in large tubs about 3 feet across. You can find them at a farm feed
store. They are intended for stock watering. Again fill their round
container ¾ full of heavy soil and lay the tip plus about 12 inches to
18 inches of stem on top. Use a brick to hold it on the soil and add pea
gravel to keep the soil in place. Make sure you do not put any on soil
or gravel on that tip.
Lotus will grow
even if there is no more than 12 inches of water over them.
You won’t see much growth until the water stays warm and then
small round leaves come to the top and then!! A huge leaf on 3 to 4 foot
stems lift out of the water and a bud as high opens up 8 inches across.
My lotuses are red or white, waxy, and last about 3 days. Since visiting
cats or coons could catch any fish in the tubs, I do not put fish in
there. But this means you will need something to kill mosquitoes. It
comes as “dunks” or in a jar. The active ingredient is Bt (Bacillus
thuringenis subspecies israelensis). A 1/4th dunk works fine
in a small pond. A whole donut will keep mosquitoes from hatching in a
large pond for up to 30 days. As usual, follow label directions and
enjoy your water garden.