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Robyn's Pond Blog for September 2017

Last Updated: 10/4/17

1. I did pond work on 9/3/17. It had rained a few inches the day before from the remnants of Hurricane Harvey so I didn't need to add water to any ponds or water any outdoor plants. I squirted out the Biosteps filter but didn't pump it down. I squirted all the filter materials and put additives in the ponds. I took off the waterlily protector on the Albata lily because the koi keep moving it and getting themselves stuck in it anyway. I think it produced one flower this year. The Chromatella yellow waterlily produced half a dozen flowers. The other two lilies didn't make any! The water lettuce all died off a few months ago from aphids. There is a good amount of water hyacinth but it is now getting brown and yellow, and it too never flowered.

2. I had off 9/4/17 for Labor Day so I did Labor! This is the time of the year to repot water iris. I'm supposed to do it every two years. My records show it's been four years! I am so bad! This was the year I was going to get that done! I worked from 9 am until almost noon. It was 68 degrees F out so nice. Last spring, when they flowered, I put metal plant support rings in all the pots that did not flower purple. So, there was one pot of white iris and one pot of Colorific (white and purple) iris. Could there be other pots that weren't purple flag iris but that hadn't flowered this year? Of course. That's part of the dilemma because I got in the pond and found 17, yes 17 pots of iris! Two were the aformentioned pots, then there were 11 two gallon pots and 2 one gallon pots that I took out of the pond to work on and also two more two gallon pots that I left in there and did not repot. One that I left was the black gamecock iris that I just got this year. The other was a purple flag iris I believe that was just more deep so I didn't bother to take it out (hence I did not meet my goal of repotting ALL iris). I also removed an empty two gallon pot.

I started by repotting the Colorific iris from its two gallon pot back in to the same pot. It was not overgrown. I then repotted the white iris in to three pots. Only after repotting did I realize that one of the pots was sweetflag with a little piece of white iris. Sweetflag has a stiff ridge up the stalk which is how you can feel it is different than iris. It likes to jump in to pots where it doesn't belong. I have plenty of sweetflag which I wasn't repotting on this day but I just left that pot as it was repotted. I put a single popsicle stick in with the white iris pots and two sticks in with the Colorific iris. This was to mark the pots so I knew which were the special (rare) iris in the pond.

The lizard tail was massively overgrown. My records show it was last repotted three years ago! I had to cut the pot off, had to cut most of the vegetation down, and then use a shovel to try to break off pieces. It had roots up and down the stalks as the entire thing had fallen over in the pond and wouldn't stay upright due to the weight. I saved enough to make up three two gallon pots of lizard tail. I may bury some of the rest in a wet area of the property if I get to that.

There are potted iris, iris floating around, and iris rooted in the gravel in the bottom. I took a chunk of loose iris that looked to have wider leaves than the purple flag iris (so maybe a different kind) and potted that in to a two gallon pot. I repotted the two one gallon pots in to two gallon pots with the thought that they might be another variety although I think they were just pieces of iris that jumped in to those pots (pot jumpers!). And, I repotted a two gallon pot. That gave me four two gallon pots of presumably purple flag iris although I can't be fully sure. That leaves 9 two gallon pots sitting on the porch waiting for another day. I will try to take a little from each and repot in to just four two gallon pots as there's not enough space in the pond for all these iris pots! I have very little of other marginals left. Aside from the now three pots of lizard tail, there are a few sweetflag, a few golden club, a few purple pickerel, a hardy canna, maybe some dwarf cattails, an arrowhead, and not much else. I can't keep all the iris. Unfortunately, in my experience of planting water iris on the land, only yellow flag iris does well on the ground. In fact, I no longer even have it in my pond after the deer massacred it a few years ago. There is yellow flag iris growing on the ground next to my big pond, next to my 153 gallon pond, and some in a low spot out front. They all flower. So, I don't really need it in the pond as that species breaks the pot in just a few years.

I've really been neglecting my pond in the last four years since my new job gives me half as much time off, and I'm now responsible for 100% of everything since my mother died, and my father is 100% apathetic and non-functional due to dementia. There's a lot of things to do! At least I got most of the iris repotted!

3. I put water in the pond on 9/8/17. By the next day, I noticed it was two inches lower! I checked the biofilter, and it looked like maybe water could have been wicking out the hairy algae laying over the edges. The entire waterfall area was overgrown with mostly weed grass so I just starting pulling a lot of it out by bare hand and got cut on some stickers and nightshade thistles. I would pick up the mess with gloves the next day.

4. On 9/10/17, the air temperature was a perfect 65 degrees F. The 1800 gallon pond was at 64 degrees F, and the 153 gallon pond was at 65 degrees F. I squirted all the filter materials and the bioballs. I pulled more weed grass from around the waterfall which was losing water somewhere due to wicking. I hauled away three full wheelbarrow of the grass.

So, on the back porch were 9 two gallon pots of iris (at least two species based on leaf size) and a bunch of loose water iris and lizard tail. I took a piece from each pot and potted up 5 two tallon pots. One pot went in the 50 gallon tub pond and the other four went in the 1800 gallon pond. I took the loose iris and lizard tail and dug them in to the ground on the wettest spot on the property. There was actually some water iris and lizard tail there already but it never seems to flower as it is not sunny enough there. Still, I feel better than just tossing it on the pile where it definitely will die.

5. I did pond work on 9/17/17. The 1800 gallon pond was at 72 degrees F, and the 153 gallon pond was at 71 degrees F so it's warmed up. First, I cut a bunch of weeds and plants around my 20 and 50 gallon ponds because they had completely vanished under the plethora of plants. I squirted all the filter materials, topped off all the ponds, and put in additives. I removed the floating plant protector which is normally removed months ago. The water hyacinth remaining in there was turning black so I tossed it.

6. It was SO hot on 9/24/17, I thought I was going to pass out. Bugs were also sucking all over my face and body. It was 85 degrees F, and I was sweating while doing chores. I don't normally sweat. It felt like July, not the end of September! Both the 1800 and 153 gallon ponds were at 72 degrees F. I moved the half net from the 1800 gallon pond to the 153 gallon pond for leaf collection purposes. I removed the ropes by the big pond that I use to deter herons and deer. I topped off all the ponds, put in additives, and squirted all the filter materials. I put in new PondMaster filters and changed the filter floss around the main pump. I moved a pot of pickerel rush to deeper water. I will move the golden club later. I removed more water hyacinth. It's been hot but it's turning brown. I spent a long time trying to un-ravel the big net for the big pond. I had neatly folded and rolled it but it was a disaster. I finally got the full net on the big pond. I brought in about a dozen doohickeys (fake turtles and frogs, that sort of thing) that were in the way of the nets. Many dozens more will be waiting to be brought in in the next month and a half. One of the fake turtles was swarming with ants, and then it's leg broke off with ants pouring out so I had to trash the poor thing. Ants love to live in my doohickeys!

7. I knew immediately that something was seriously wrong on 9/30/17 when I turned the corner of the house around 7:30 am. I forgot something the previous Sunday when I netted the ponds that caused a lot of suffering to the plants and animals in my pond. I forgot to put a Rubbermaid tub lid over my biofilter before putting the net over it. I never used to have to do that but started a few years ago because the same thing happened then that happened on 9/30/17. As I came out to the pond, the sounds were wrong. I heard water tinkling on liner. The pond had pumped out leaving the fish in maybe six inches of water. This is why the lowest pump must always be off the bottom of the pond. We had a lot of wind the day before and leaves and hair algae combined to block the low overflow lip on the biofilter because the net was there. So, water takes the easiest path which was out the back of the filter, down and away from the pond and lined areas. All the pumps were sucking air. I can't just fill the pond back up because we're on a well, and I use a lot of water on the weekends anyway, often resulting in the well belching up air. I ran water for 30 minutes which got water over all the pumps and filters so I could turn those back on. I dumped in a bunch of pond salt, pond Stress-Coat (for the stress and metals since there's no chlorine/chloramine), and baking soda as our well water is very soft. I added 30 more minutes of water later in the day but there were countless microorganisms and plants exposed to the air as the pond was still a foot low. Luckily, it was cold which helps keep them from drying out and dying as quickly. I also "watered" the pond later to wet the exposed plants. It would take two days to refill the pond. All this trouble because I was too busy and stressed to remember one tiny thing. I'm very mad at myself for this deadly mistake. On the plus side, my pond finally got a water change. I never do water changes on the big pond because we're on a well.


Continue to the October 2017 pond blog.


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