Monday, October 2, 2017

Ponds - the good, bad, and ugly!

You know, if I ever write a gardening book, there is going to be at least one chapter dedicated to PONDS.  And, may I say, having a pond is not for wimps!  It is hard, frustrating, dirty work unless, of course, you are smart enough to have all the design work, plumbing, electricity, and digging done by professionals.  I’ve had ponds and now, I think, they are sort of like snow – pretty, an interesting effect to a yard and best enjoyed from a photo. 

First of all, if you are starting with grass covered yard, stop.  You really don’t want to do this without a fair amount of research, time, strength, patience, and help.  My first suggestion is – start with a fountain.  Ah, you say, is that what you did?  Oh hell no – certainly not.  We did the whole “start with grass and dig a hole, etc” thing.  And please note – the term “we” is used very loosely.
My first mistake, back when we lived in Galveston, was even mentioning to Michael that I wanted a pond.  I was originally thinking about a 20 gallon puddle and he envisioned Lake Houston.  One day he came home from work and announced that he had bought a pond form – it would arrive the next day.  It was a stock reservoir that held about 1000 gallons of water.  Great – a 1000 gallon pond – oh good.  OK, I got to do all the digging (oh joy) for (1) a hole big enough to hold the big blue tank and (2) the trench(es) for the electricity for the pump, necessary to keep the water from turning a delightful shade of puke green.

As I look back, the pump and filter arrangement, we used, was perhaps not the best choice but we went into the whole pond thing blind with no research and only a vague idea of what would work.  These days bogs and bio-filter systems are a better, somewhat easier choice.  By the way, don’t ever go to water-garden stores.  They just appeal to your unreasonable sense of “I NEEEEEEED THIS” and “how hard can it be?”.  Remember, those people are professionals and it can be really, really hard.

I wanted to grow water plants.  MHN wanted fish.  Well, that should be ok – right?  We located the pond in the sun.  Good thing/bad thing.  Yes, I could grow water plants, I also grew all kinds icky, nasty algae.  MHN acquired coy and gold fish and one day, an Oscar fish.  Then he brought home a turtle he’d found on the side of the road.  You know what all those things do in water besides swim – right?  Cleaning the pump filter material was almost a daily job.  Ick.  HA! I discovered that a variety of plants would help filter the water.  Cool!  A new problem arose, between the coy and turtle, the plants would get eaten to the dirt. 

I decided to try water hyacinth which is a free-floating perennial plant that helps to filter the water.  Unfortunately, it is also a non-native, invasive, noxious plant that can form thick mats. If it escapes into the natural freshwater ways, the mats will cover the entire surface and cause oxygen depletions and fish kills. (Water hyacinths should be controlled very carefully.)  The water hyacinths worked well plus the turtle and fish ate them and I had a system to make sure they did not escape into the world. Yea!

And, it only took us 2 years to get it all working! 

Tomorrow: Moving a 1000 gallon pond, fish, a turtle and plants …..

Take care

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