Water Garden Calendar and Pond Care For Summer
On this webpage where months are referred to I mean those relating to conditions in the Northern Hemisphere climates. If you live in the Southern Hemisphere the seasonal conditions can be treated similarly but you obviously must change to the appropriate month when thinking in terms of weather. Consider these links
Summer is considered to start in June in the UK and USA and to continue through until end August.
JUNEyou make an incorrect change.
If youve have a potentially good harvest of froglets from tadpoles this year, now is the time that they will start to emerge from the pond and sit indecisively amongst the surrounding sward of lawn, so take care with your mower as you fly by the pool or fire up the barbeque in anticipation of a feast of mini frogs legs!
Of course this is the time of the year that Aquatic retailers eagerly await the return of their early season customers who only bought a pool and a few plants. They return in their droves looking for submersible pumps for fountains, waterfalls and filters. As the weather warms up the new fish start gasping at the surface despite them following all the recommendations of getting in the right number of plants and especially oxygenators in the water.
- Allow one bunch of oxygenators per 0.2 sq m (2 sqft) of pool surface
- Allow one lily for every 2.3 sq m (25 sqft) of pool surface.
- Marginals: allow at least one plant for every 0.5sq m (5 sqft).
But in a new pool especially with Koi carp and even if it has a filter system, if the fish have been added before the whole system has matured, the pool has to go through a phase where the ammonia level rises before the bacteria that break down that ammonia get well established. Now it is a good idea to add one or two fish to start the whole process going because it is their faeces and fish food that produces the ammonia that the bacteria feed on, but these are Kamikaze fish in the sense that the environment you have introduced them to is going to go through some pretty unhealthy phases before it gets robust enough to support a full population of fish at 2inches per square foot of surface area. The worst bit is when then the ammonia is partly broken down to nitrite chemicals and you have a cocktail that is poisonous and damaging to the gills of the fish. This is when they start gasping. So the best action is to follow your instincts and get plenty of oxygen in there. Large partial water changes are best, but running water in hard from a hose is also good. The oxygen in the water will sustain the fish and the bacteria in the bottom of the pool, or the filter if you have one, with the essential oxygen they need to make the chemical break down. The next phase is the break down of the nitrites to nitrates, which is then greedily absorbed by the plants.
So if you havent got a fountain or a waterfall and you have some precious fish recently installed, think about getting one. And if you have created this watery habitat for the sake of some beloved fish, then seriously think about a biological pool filter, especially if it gets as warm as last year here in the UK. The other deciding factor maybe that without a filtration system, your pool needs to be two thirds covered by plants at this time of year in order to maintain a balance and provide anywhere near clear water. Allow 4 to 6 weeks for a pool to really establish its microbiology. There are proprietary pool starter mixes available to get things going more quickly, or you could try borrowing a couple of gallons of water from a friends pool that you have so long admired. Adding this will be like a yoghurt starter. Apparently spitting into the pool can have the same effect! The bacteria we carry in our mouths are pretty much the same as those found in the bottom of a pond!
JOBS FOR THE MONTH
- Dead head early flowers like the Marsh Marigolds and irises. Now begins the period where water gardeners look enviously at their friends with bog gardens that can work as a spectacular backdrop to a pool. The flower and foliage affects that can be achieved here carry on much further into the season. Even now some plants are only just beginning to come into flower. Things like the Day Lily Hemerocallis, Rodgersia, Ligularia and Hosta. However water gardeners still have their lilies to enjoy and these can still be planted.
- This is the best time of year for planting out lilies. Some of the old time water gardeners would only think of planting lilies at this time of year.
- Look for pests on leaves. Aphids can be abundant on lily leaves and marsh marigolds. Knock them of with a harsh sprayer or a finger and thumb. The fish will soon gobble them up.
If the weather gets really hot and the water in the pool is warming up, look to see if the fish are getting lethargic. If the fish look as though they are in distress, there is an emergency. A partial water change of a third will do them the world of good, or at least blast fresh tap water in there from a height and let the pool just overflow. Ensure you have some water running into the pool, either a fountain or a stream.
If it is a really well-established pool, and a little (dare I say) sludgy on the bottom, the fish in these pools will be suffering the most, especially in the evenings. What makes the situation worse is that water will not retain oxygen very easily the warmer it gets. The bacteria in the sludge will be using up the oxygen, and any oxygenators, although they plug along at their sweet level during the day, come night-time they begin take in oxygen as well. If there are Koi in there, theyll be using up the resources like nuclear subs and will be the first to be panicking on the surface.
July is good for the late season marginal plants and the march of the bog brigade. And of course there are the lilies. Most of the real wet footed marginals have done their thing by now. There is still the big Pickerel weed and Lythrum is blazing away, and the demur Flowering Rush both competing with the big grasses. In the bog there are the Ligularia, Astilbes, Hemerocallis or Day Lilies. Hostas are flowering and the Bistorts are looking good. There are spectacular displays of Primula florindiae and P viallii and yellow loosestrife and soon there will be the Schizostylis to wind things up. Meanwhile variegated and yellow grasses keep up the brightness and Gunnera and Rheum palmatum provide the big green backdrop. The Hampton Court Palace Flower show is the place to catch some new ideas. And what a venue!
What should be happening at this time of year?
Leeches are getting pretty big and pretty sassy at this time of year. So try to get a good look to see there arent any hanging off your fish. A very dilute salt bath will see to them of if you cannot bear to screw them of.
If youve got a bog garden make sure there none of those big weeds getting a foothold into it. And make sure it is well watered. You ought to have a tube going right down into it thats perforated with holes. This helps watering in the hot and dry, getting the water down to the roots where it is needed.
NOW is the time to thin those oxygenators if they are getting out of hand. Not in Autumn and not in Spring.
Plants that need a good long growing season to get going can be sown from now on. Some experts recommend that it is time to sow the seed of Tetragona waterlilies. It would also be good time to sow the likes of Marsh Marigolds (Caltha palustris) or Ragged Robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi).
If it looks as though there are small fish that may get eaten, rescue them. Keep them in a tank and feed up until theyre bigger.
And if you are going on holiday and you were going to get the neighbours to feed the fish while you were away. Dont. Let the fish starve for a week or two. It will do them good. Unless your neighbours are experienced and successful fish keepers they will always overfeed for fear of underfeeding. The result will be disease and algae and God knows what. Leave it to God. He organises nice fat flies and things for this time of year.
So what should you have been doing in the water garden in August. In the UK most books will tell you sit back and relax and enjoy the fruits of your labour, but it can get so hot in the UK year that any mismanagement of the water garden will come back to haunt the owners. Over feeding and over stocking becomes apparent when the fish are gasping for oxygen in the warm water. Water cannot absorb oxygen so readily at warmer temperatures. If there is overfeeding and fish food rotting on the bottom of the pool, a vicious cycle of ammonia production starts up as it begins to rot. Any ammonia in the water is bad news, especially for Koi carp, for which ammonia is a deadly poison. The problem is that they exude ammonia as a waste product through their anus and their gills. They do this more when they are stressed, and what is more, the presence of ammonia makes them stressed, overcrowding makes them stressed and lack of oxygen makes them stressed, so once ammonia levels start to build up you can be in a snowball situation. Lack of oxygen also slows down the activity of the essential bacteria in the bottom of the pool as well as in the biological filters that are capable of breaking down the ammonia, and so the production of the poison goes on unchecked. If you(a) live in a warm country, (b) have small pools well stocked with fish, (c) prefer to see your fish than have masses of plant life in the pool, a biological filter system with an incorporated Ultra Violet Clarifier is pretty much essential. What should go on with those bacteria in the bottom of the pool in breaking down the waste and organic compounds in the water is essential to the well being of the whole pool, with a biological filtration system you have a turbo version of pool bottom at your control at the touch of a switch. Nowadays the filtration boxes have evolved into small systems working under pressure, which can be hidden out of sight at ground level and that can be serviced virtually by a twist of a lever. Blagdon Water Gardens stock several models from Two major manufacturers.
[ EMERGENCY REMEDY: Hard spray of tap water from a height into the water, letting the pool over flow. And or one third water-change with dechlorinator added]
Hopefully the friends you had looking after the pool when you were on vacation didnt over feed the fish. If they did they only gave enough for the rascals to consume in 5 minutes and netted off the excess.
N.B. Red leg in frogs thrives in water low in oxygen and high in organic matter.
article supplied by Peter J May