Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Ponds can be LOW maintenance

Photos from last weekend's Plant Swap are posted here. In addition, I've put up some of my Open Garden pics here. Harry M. from around the corner took some of his own photos of the Open Garden. You can view them here.

This young couple (pictured here) brought their own faerie who enjoyed feeding my goldfish. Since I don't normally give the fish any food, this started quite a frenzy later on when I walked by during the clean-up. They now are under the mistaken assumption they will be getting more. Ha! Little fishies should know they are there to earn their keep at any stray mosquito larvae and other pond pollutants.
Speaking of the pond, it was the #1 topic of conversation at the Open Garden. Followed by, "what is that plant?" in reference to anything currently in bloom. That would be Clematis 'Jackmanii,' Verbena bonariensis (aka Verbena on a stick), and Campanula 'Cherry Bells.' Many folks also commented on the fake windows with planted boxes and the rainbarrel design.
What everyone wanted to know about my pond was how much work it is. They are all incredulous when I tell them I do NOTHING after the initial cleaning and set-up for the spring season. Seriously, it is the lowest area of maintenance in my garden. I just muck it out, move the rocks back out that have fallen in over the winter, throw in some floating annuals (water lettuce, water hyacinth, etc.) and a new barley mini-bale, re-set and plug back in the circulating fountain, and step back.
One woman told me a fellow gardener told her you could not go on vacation if you have a water garden! Further, that it took an hour of daily work. Yikes! Perhaps this person has $3,000 Koi that need daily babying, but my little feeder goldfish are Darwinian survivalists and the pond basically takes care of itself. Sure, I should clean out the fountain filter more often, when I see the water stream start to dwindle I get around to it every six weeks or so. Sure, I could sit around and pick off every leaf that lands on it before it sinks. But why? My pond water is perfectly clean and clear. I can easily see the bottom and my fish are healthy, plump fellows. Out in the wild, ponds work perfectly fine without human intervention, let the natural system work for you.

6 comments:

FirePhrase said...

Is that a new pillow on the pink bench? It's a nice touch. And your faerie visitor dressed to match!

WashingtonGardener said...

Pillow back from last year's storage - after ruining one set of pricey outdoor pillows, I'm trying to take better care of this one. And yes, that Faerie came dressed in style. Made me want to run in and dig out my wings as well.

Keller Shinholser said...

Ponds can be ultra low maintenance. There are systems now that require about 5 minutes a week to clean out a skimmer, just like at a pool. Ponds can be netted in the fall until all the leaves come down. This will keep much of the debris out of the pond. Ponds can be kept running in the winter or turned off as long as there is a heat source to leave a small unfrozen area for the fish.
Ponds with a maindrain in the bottom are usually problematic as all the junk collects at the drain.
Pondless waterfalls and streams are an option that are virtually no maintenance. Where there is usually a pond we install a rock garden with or without plants. The water comes down the waterfall or stream and comes into the rock garden where is then recirculates back up to the top. No fuss, no muss.
Any questions, just ask.

The Natural Capital said...

We follow the same survival-of-the-fittest strategy in our pond and even without feeding, our fish thrive and reproduce like mad.

We went for 1.5 years without any maintenance but this spring drained and cleaned the pond because the water was getting stinky (I think from decomposing leaves). I'd love to hear more about your spring maintenance routine.

WashingtonGardener said...

Thanks, Keller, yes, fall netting is theway to go to cut down on debris. I did it the first two years and then got lazy about it.

Natural, my spring clean-up is basically wait for one of those early hot days when the pond water is warm enough to tolerate getting in. I "suit up" by putting on my beach shoes and latex gloves, then collect big buckets to have near me at the pond. Then I step and start scooping -- the fish think this is a riot and start to come for all the great stuff you are stirring up and they also suck on your legs a bit too -- very ticklicsh. I try to do one good mucking, then let the water settle back down overnight and do the fianl touch up and re-setting of everything the next day. I thought of filming it this time. Next year I'll try to remember to do that.

jessica said...

Wow.. i like gardening..nice blog
Thanks for sharing..@@

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Jessica
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