|Note: This article was written while I still lived in Michigan
in the 90's. Now that we are in North Carolina the same basic principles still apply.
Digital cameras were not very good in the 90's|
Yes that is me
in the 90's. This picture was taken in the spring when we cleaned out our pond.
And this is hubby Rich and an employee. Every one got involved in the spring cleaning of the 5,000 gallon pond at our Michigan store.|
The first thing you want to do is get your pump and filter up and running if
it was shut down for the winter months. This will add aeration to the water and
help in removing any mulm that is in the pond. Use a sturdy net and remove any
dead frogs, leaves, dead algae and anything else that is in the ponds that does
not belong there.
Check ammonia, nitrite and pH. If ammonia is present add Amquel or Prime to bind
up the ammonia. If there is a lot of ammonia, there is probably a lot of
"mulm" on the bottom of the pond. This must be removed ASAP! If
nitrite is a problem, leave the salt in the pond at a .1 level as this will keep
the fish from up taking the nitrite.
If the ammonia is real high, then drain the pond, and clean it out. Your fish
will be in jeopardy if the ammonia is real high and you do not get rid of the
source of the ammonia. If necessary, remove the fish. Have on hand Potassium
Permanganate. When the water level is about 50 % down, add 1 teaspoon Potassium
Permanganate for each 1000 gallons of water that is left in the pond. This will
kill any "ickies" that are in the water and help break down the organics.
|It is necessary to have lots
of aeration to the water. Make sure that you have regular hydrogen peroxide 3%,
handy to neutralize the effects of Potassium Permanganate should the fish become
distressed. We left a deep hole for the fish to go to during the winter and as
we drained the pond there was enough water in that hole to leave the fish
undisturbed in the Potassium Permanganate while we scrubbed the pond and cleaned
If you had salt in your pond for the winter, it is time to start removing the
salt through water changes. When the water temperature reaches a consistent 45
degrees for several days in a row, start removing salt from the pond by water
changes. Do this over a few days. Simply siphon or pump some the water out each
day. I remove 25 to 33 percent a day. Replace with new water.
temperature of the water coming out of your hose and compare that to the water
in the pond. Remember that you do not want more than a 2 or 3-degree change in
water temperature. I set the hose up so that it sprays on top of the water
rather than sticking the hose in the water. Keep in mind, that water coming out
of a hose has no oxygen. By letting it spray on top of the water, you will be
adding oxygen at the same time.
TROPICAL PLANTS THAT WINTERED INSIDE
Remember the tropical pond plants that you brought in the house last fall? Well,
now is the time to give them a new home! This is usually done in early spring.
As the days become longer and we have sunnier days, the plants are going to
start making lots of new growth.
These plants are either going to need to be divided or moved to a larger pot.
The choice is pretty much yours. Do you want a larger pot to put in the pond or
would you rather have several smaller pots of the same plant to place in the
pond? To transplant to a larger pot is the simpler choice, particularly if you
are a beginner. Simply take the plant out of the pot. Hold the pot securely and
gently pull up on the top of the plant. If a gentle tug does not release the
plant from the pot, it may be necessary to "squish" the sides of the
pot and roll the pot between you hands as you apply gentle pressure to the sides
of the pot. This should release the roots that are clinging to the inside of the
pot. You may have to firmly rap the pot on a firm surface and then try to gently
pull on the top of the plant again. It does sometimes help if the soil is real
wet when you try to remove the plant from the pot.
You want to have a pot that is a couple of sizes larger than the pot that it was
in last season. If the drainage holes in the new pot are real large, place a few
sheets of wet newspaper in the bottom of the pot to help keep the soil in the
pot so that it does not fall out while you are transplanting. The newspaper will
rot away in a short time. Add enough ordinary garden soil to the bottom of the
new pot so that you will be able to set the plant at a slightly higher depth
that it was at in the old pot.
You do not want to cover up the "crown"
of the plant with soil or gravel. The crown of the plant is where the leaves
emerge from the base of the plant. Hold the plant upright and straight in the
pot and fill with soil. Gently tamp the soil down. Add more soil and gently tamp
down again. Repeat until the soil it about 4 inches from the top of the pot.
Keep in mind that you do not want the soil packed real tight in the pot. Finish
off by adding a couple of inches of pea gravel on top of the soil. This will
discourage your fish from trying to "root" inside the soil. Carefully
water the plant from the top.
Let the water soak down into the soil. Water until
you see water coming out of the drainage hole. OR you can place the pot in a
bucket of water and let is soak up water from the drainage holes. This may take
several minutes to half an hour. You can now set the plant in a hole less
container and fill it so there is water in the covering the top of the pot if so
In the house it is easier to avoid "messes" if there is only a few
inches of water in the outer container.
HINT: if you have a lot of larger plants you can place several in Rubbermaid
containers. For larger amounts of smaller plants the little "kiddy
pools" work great if you have the space for these little pools.
When the weather outside has warmed up to about 55 day time temperature, you can
put the hardy plants outside to start the "hardening off" process. Use
a hole less pot or bucket and make sure that the outer container has water in it
at all times. You should have at least 3 to 4 inches of water in the outer
container at all times.
Depending on the depth of the outer container, you can
have water all the way up to the rim of the pot or even a couple of inches over
the pot that contains the plant. Keep in mind that if the plant is a lily-like
aquatic; the leaves have to be able to float out in the water. This is where the
little kiddy pools come in handy as you can put lots of plants in them. Place
them in a shady spot where there is not much wind to start out. The north side
of the house or under a tree usually works quite well. For right now, you want
to keep direct sun and wind off of the leaves. Plants, just like people can
sunburn! They can also windburn.
This will not usually kill the plants, but the leaves will have a
"scorched" look. You will have to remove these leaves later.
NOTE: scorched leaves, brown leaves, brown spots, or frost burned leaves will
never turn green once they are damaged. The plant will grow new leaves and the
damaged leaves will just continue to deteriorate. Make sure you remove these
leaves, as this will contribute to ammonia build up in the pond.
Gradually over a period of about 2 weeks you will move the plant so that it is
getting more sun each day. If frost is predicted at night, be prepared to cover
the plants or move them into a garage or shed. If a freeze is expected, then
move them back into the house for the night.
|There are lots of things you can use to cover plants to protect them from
frost. Whatever you use, ESPECIALLY plastic, must not lie on top of the foliage.
Instead it must be "tented" over the foliage.
If the covering is lying on top of the foliage; it may burn even worse from the
covering! Items that work well are newspapers, brown paper bags, burlap, old
sheets, or a commercially bought frost blankets. It should also be fairly light
in weight. Make sure the covering is secure so that if the wind picks up at
night, it does not blow off. When the water temperature in the pond has hits
50-55 degrees for several days, and then the hardy for your zone plants can be
placed in the pond at the proper depth for each plant.
This should coincide with about the time you start feeding your fish. If an
unexpected frost is predicted simply lay the pot on its side in the pond or
drops it deeper in the water for the night. Keep in mind that if the water is 50
degrees, the frost will not hurt the plant if it is under the water. And if the
water is 50 to 55 degrees it may even offer frost protection because it is
warmer than the air. OR bring the plant back into the garage or shed for the
night. I always opt for putting it deeper in the pond because that seems to be
less hassle then carting the plants inside for the night.
As soon as the ice is off the pond and the water temperature has stayed
consistently at 40 to 45 degrees for several days, and all salt has been
removed, you can start moving the hardy perennials back into the pond. Check the
plant label if you have one or a reference chart that I have at
ZONE HARDINESS AND LIGHT REQUIREMENTS to see which plants are hardy for your zone. The plants in these charts are also
grouped by water depth.|
It is very important that plants be set at the proper depth to being successful.
If set too deep or too shallow the plant will not thrive and grow but will die a
I place the appropriate number of pond plant fertilizer tablets in each pot
before I add them back to the pond. Avoid the urge to use more. This is a case
of "more is NOT better."
Contrary to what has been said, pond plant fertilizer tablets do not contribute
to algae! We fertilize once a month and do not have an algae problem, except in
the very, very early spring, before we have added the plants. Once the plants
start actively growing the algae seems to disappear over night.
One trick I discovered last spring, as soon as the water warms up to about 40
and I have removed the salt, I put my hardy lilies and Iris back in the pond. I
also throw as much fairy moss and duckweed in the pond as I can get my hands on.
Ideally I try to cover 50% of the water with duck weed and fairy moss. This
starts growing real fast, almost as fast as the algae and the water clears a lot
sooner. Later when the other plants start growing, we take used to a net the
fairy moss out but we no longer do that because my fish are much larger now and
will devour it. And it is good for them! Usually by this time the Koi have
consumed all the duck weed so I don't have to worry about removing that anyway.
HINT: do keep some Duckweed and Fairy Moss aside in a Rubbermaid liner to grow
on so that you can feed it as a treat to the Koi later on during the growing season.
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