Perform pump care

Should you run the pump or not this winter? We typically recommend shutting down the pump over the winter months sometime in late December, early January and restarting it in mid March to April.  Although some customers enjoy running their pumps year round and get very cool ice sculptures from it, there are some concerns.  The first is the chance of ice dams forming in the waterfall & creek.  This can cause a water to leak from the pond and cause a significant water level drop.  No one enjoys going out to try to refill the pond on a cold winter day when all the spigots are winterized.  The second is the chilling effect on the fish.  The fish are in the warmer bottom section of the pond and the pump circulation is reducing the water temperature for the fish.

When you turn off the pump, you should remove any check valve in the pond plumbing to release the water from the waterfall box and pond plumbing.  Remove and thoroughly clean the pump and store in a frost free aera over the winter.

 

The other stuff: UVs, external filters, and fountains

UV bulbs shoudl be removed and stored insided.  Make sure it is entirely drained of all water and stored somewhere it will not get inadvertently broken.

External pond filters should be cleaned.  Store inside or winterize them per the manufacturer’s directions.

Small pumps used for spitters should be disconnected and brought indoors.  Free standing concrete fountains and birdbaths need to be covered for the winter to prevent them from cracking.

Decorative items such as floating islands and pond decor will last longer if stored indoors for the winter.

Winterize the waterfall filter box

Pull any hardy marginal plants from the waterfall filter box and place them in the main pond to overwinter.  Once the pump is pulled out for the winter, the waterfall box will empty of water and the plants will not overwinter if left in place in the box.

Install a Pond Deicer/Pond Aerator

During the winter months, a hole must be maintained in the ice.  As ice forms on the pond, toxic levels of gases from decaying organic matter can be trapped under the ice.  This creates a toxic gas chamber for the fish.

A pond heater floats on the surface of the pond and creates an ice opening allowing the gases to passively escape.  They typically have an internal thermometer and will turn on and off depending on the temperature of the water.

An aerator is an air pump that sits outside the pond.  It must be protected from rain and snow.  Typically placing them on a elevated surface and covering them with a cover rock works well to protect them from the elements.  The aerator have air stones which are placed in the pond.  They should not be placed in the deep section.  Ideally they are in 6-12″ of water.

You can install these items when you install the netting so that you are all set in case cold weather arrrives unexpectedly with ice forming on the pond.

Install pond netting

Before the tree leaves begin to fall, install a good quality pond net and tent over the entire pond surface of the pond, stream, and waterfall area.  This will keep falling leaves out of the pond reducing your work in pulling out excess decaying leaves and prevent organic buildup of debris on the bottom of the pond.  The more you can keep out in the fall, the easier your spring opening will be for you.  Make sure the net hangs over the pond by at least 6 inches.  This allows you to roll up the net at the edge and secure it with ground staples/pins.  Be carefully not to stake the pins through the pond liner.

We like to keep up our netting off the surface of the pond using a pond tent.  This helps the leaves to blow off the netting rather that weigh it down into the water where the leaves can tint the water brown.

We keep our netting on through the winter to protect the fish from predators like the blue heron.

Add cold water bacteria

Cold water bacteria like MicrobeLift Autumn/Winter Prep is formulated to work in cold water.  The summer bacteria additions that you have been adding as well as the ingenious bacteria that have built up naturally during the summer will die off as the weather turns cold.  Applying the winter prep bacteria helps with reducing organic build up on the pond’s bottom.  This will help your ecosystem in the spring as the weather warms.

Clean out the Junk

One of the important tasks for fall and winter maintenance is to clean out the debris, like leaves and muck, that has accumulated on the pond’s bottom.  If this organic material is left in the pond over the winter months, it will release toxins into the water and create an unhealthy environment for the fish.  Use a long handled net or pond vaccuum to remove the debris.

Winter Garden

This year we had a great garden.  Some years, the weeds outnumbered the vegetables, but not this year:).  We put together a raised garden loosely following square foot garden principles.  We had a bountiful harvest.  Knowing that the frost was coming (and now here and gone before this post- sorry), we wanted to extend our garden season.  I watched a few  youtube videos with this one being my favorite, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6bWeYCV53A.  I liked the simplicity of it, but I knew storage of it would be difficult during the summer.  So, I improvised a bit. I found everything I needed at the local hardware store running into at least three of you:).  Yep, I was the one awkwardly carrying 10 foot sections of pex tubing through the store! I chose not to hinge or build a bottom frame for the cold frame since I wanted storage to be simple. I ended up using the staple gun to secure the plastic sheeting on the one side and using sticky tape and rocks on the other side for easy access.  Project rated easy since it took under an hour to complete and I didn’t need to call in backup.

You can see my progress by clicking on the photo.

My lettuce are all tucked in for the frosty evenings and we’ll be all set in the spring to get a jump start on vegetables!  I am going to backtrack and invest in a vent.  Day 1 it was pretty warm in the bed and I would hate to fry my romaine lettuce.  What plants do you like to grow in the fall?

Bringing in the Tropicals

OK- I may be a day or two late for this post.  We all knew that frost was coming, but well I procrastinated.  You still have a chance to save those tropical marginals.  Over the summer months, we let those beautiful plants filter our ponds by placing them in rocks, which allows them to keep our water clear.  Typically, prior to the first frost, we will move those tropicals indoors to keep a bit of the ponds with us all winter long.  We replant the pond plant into regular potting soil (You know the kind we would NEVER use in the pond!) in a decorative no hole container.  The best places are in sunny location with a weekly dose of water.  It does not need to be in standing water.  Just keep the soil moist.  Here are some of my favorite tropical pond plants to bring indoors:  The ChiChi Bluebell plant, umbrella or papyrus plants, and of course don’t forget those hanging baskets and outdoor container plants!

 

Heirloom Tomatoes

Not exactly pond related . . .but we did sell tomato plants this spring.  Remember those great grafted heirloom tomatoes I may have pointed out to you in the greenhouse?  Wow!  They are amazing.  The growers grafted a heirloom tomato to a good root stock tomato and what does that mean?  It means a yummy, very productive, fruit bearing plant!  Care should be taken to ensure that the graft remains above the planting line unlike typical tomatoes where you take off the lower branches and plant it in for a better root system.  I have been swimming in tomatoes . . .and this is good, very good:).  But I am now thinking cold and unfortunately white stuff and that typically means no more garden tomatoes.  I was unsure what I wanted to can for winter.  Salsa? Tomato soup or sauce?  So I went whole tomatoes so I can decide later. I pulled out that handy dandy Ball canning book and rolled up my sleeves.

canned tomatoes 1canned tomatoes

What are you doing with all of your garden crop?