Monday, December 3, 2012

Winter Cover: Attempt number 2

I've decided to try a pond cover this year.  There are two reasons for this.  First, it is an attempt to make winter less stressful for my fishy friends.  Second, to keep all of the winter blown leaves, seeds, sticks etc and you never image you be a factor in the winter, until you get a pond.

My first attempt at a pond cover was a big Ole fail.  I criss crossed multiple 2x6 beams across the pond in sort of a spider web pattern and then caulked different sections of plastic to each area.  I can't remember why I didn't cover it with just a single giant sheet.  That might have held up a little longer but in the end would have failed for the same reason this did.  Water is really heavy.  Rain drops water on plastic, which stretches it forming deeper and heavier pools until the caulk gives and the cover fails.

Attempt number two was full of adventure.  I decided to make a sort of tunnel over the pond, out of bent PVC.  I didn't build it over the pond though.  I build it on the driveway.  Picture a sort of skeleton of PVC that is 26 feet long and 20 feet wide.  Now picture a lone person moving said structure down the driveway, through the yard, between trees that are 15 feet apart and over a fence.  It was, er interesting.  Almost as interesting as getting each side of it on opposite sides of the pond.  (Eventually completed by just dumping one end in the water and fishing it out.

Raising the structure was easy, as was getting the plastic over the top.  It looked most excellent until the first big windstorm (40mph gusts) when it tried to blow away.  I eventually made it heavier with an additional top of 6mm plastic and disassembled half of the circle garden blocks to weight it down.  It has held up to recent winds OK.  Snow will likely destroy it but at least it is buying me a bit of time.  The inside of the tunnels is like a rain forest.  Condensation coats the sides.  I moved my wheel planter in there and planted some beets and lettuce to see if I can get a winter harvest out of the project.  That's if winter ever gets here.  Today was 64 degrees.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Finished Pond Pictures

We got the last few boulders in two days ago and the plantings and fish are maturing nicely.  Here are some shots of the area at the peak of the heat wave.  Building this was so much work but not that it is done, work to maintain is nothing more than emptying the leaf bucket, topping off the water and once a week hosing down the skimmer pad.  The fish are tame, and come up to be fed.  Red Head Fred continues his trickery, now his head is mostly white with a few orange speckles.  The amount of enjoyment we are getting from the area is immense.  Even with the heat, we are hanging out here multiple times a day.  All an all, this project was well worth all the bandaids, and sweat and dollars.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Baby Koi Pictures!

The pond has it's first fish! Two of them came all the way from Japan. Meet Luna, who I think is an Ogon Butterfly Koi and Ginny who I think is a Gin Rin Kohaku Koi. Ginny has red lips and blue eyes and a whole lot of sparkle!  So far Ginny hides 99% of the time but Luna is brave and very easy to spot in the water.
 Also in the pond is Red Head Fred.  Fred has less of a pedigree than the girls but he is pretty cool looking all the same.  Unfortunately I have no picture of Fred.  I was so excited to get him in his new digs I forgot all about it!

Pond is coming along.  Hope to finish the veggie filter pond this week and then it is all landscaping!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Waterfall Progress

I spent 12 hours on Friday another 16 on Saturday and Sunday putting about 12 stones on the waterfall.  I'm excited though because I tried out out on Sunday and it works, with only a few tiny leaks!  So why does a short little waterfall take so long to build.  Ah, for many reasons you would never anticipate.

1.  Deluge of rain each day means work interruption, timing of silicone and foam and concrete to work with pending storms.
2.  Deluge of rain each day makes working with massive boulders on tiny wheels on slippery clay...challenging.
3.  Taffy and Daffy the duck visit twice a day.  I feel bad if I scare them so I work slower so as not to startle them.
4.  I spend a lot of time studying stuff.
5.  The rocks are too big.  It took me two hours to get this one off the driveway and into the vicinity of the waterfall.  Then another sweaty hour to get it in place.  The picture doesn't do a good job showing how heavy this is.  I cannot lift even one end of it solo.  Thus the 2x4 in the background.  I learned I can lift a whole lot of rock with a piece of strong wood! 
6.  Limited rock selection.   I only want to move each of these once, which means a lot of time plotting out how it will all fit together.  Since I only have two pallets, I have to plan a few moves ahead.  As we know, I am a bit slow in the whole planning arena.

The goal was to get water flowing down this, this weekend.  We have two new urgencies to inspire faster working.  A BBQ in early June and a new addition to the pond.  We have koi.  Our first of the favorite Harry Potter characters has been added to the water.  Red Head Fred got added to the pond about an hour before a massive thunderstorm.  He promptly disappeared for days.  Since he is a little guy (3") I was a bit worried he became a duck mcnugget but we spotted him on Saturday!  Since Red Head Fred ain't dead, I need to get this filter going!

So here is where I am not.  The area is a HUGE mess, the falls are still sort of sticking out in the middle of nowhere.  The final plan has plantings around them.  I already got a few things in, the amazing Stich in Time hosta has a place of honor at the front lower left.  A division of my Paul's Glory is at the top and a tassle fern is near the bottom with some scotch moss you can't see yet.  Once the rain slows down I will be out daily.  Must get pond done!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

May Gardening Update

A full month gone.  Excuses are numerous but not particularly interesting so I'll skip them and get to the updates.
Let's see, in the past month the crazy unseasonably warm weather continued a bit longer, then transitioned to more typical cool temps of April.  Not much rain though.  This allowed me to continue the work here and there where the job/kids/home/other life allowed.

I got sod down over part of the trench, so one eyesore has been partially re-mediated and another created.  The pond area is looking industrial again as I work to build the waterfall and veggie filter.  This has been a very slow process.  The reason is that we have opted to do it ourselves and have also chosen stones too big to lift.  I spent a few hours one day checking out how to move large stones without machines, you know like the Egyptians did!  Why no machines?  They don't fit, unless we go with one of those HUGE cranes that could park on the street and those numbers start in the four digits.  Which means, plant rollers and jock husband biceps will be used.
We had 1.5 tons of weathered limestone delivered.  Last week and started the process of placing the stones.  It is very slow going.  Because the rocks are so heavy they are very difficult to place.  You can't wiggle them around or you'll tear the liner.  You also have to place them so that the water will eventually flow in the way you want.  Never having done this before, it is difficult to predict.  Then there is the setting them in concrete and all the joys associated with mess with all that!
The most difficult part though is getting the rocks to the place you need them without hurting ourselves.  The rollers are great but the ground is not level and rollers...roll.  I have a blue finger to prove it!  I hope to have this first fall flowing this weekend if the weather holds and work tries to stay reasonably sane.  I'm loving all the moss and lichen on this stone.  Hoping that it will not have that new and unnatural look when all is complete.

Garden work has been about more than the pond.  The tomatoes are big and I started putting the rest of them out this week.  I decided to put the wooliest blue tomato next to the knock out roses with a bit of chard to make this bed more edible.  I'm considered putting the peas in front.  The green might not be enough contrast, but that would be easier than attacking the GIANT patch of weeds that is part of the back bed.  I started cleaning that up last week.  Good gravy this has never been this bad before.  Pictures of my shame?  Sure thing.  This blog is about reality, lol. 
I think the crooked Teepee adds a nice touch!
Here are some weeds, plus a few other not particularly inspiring photos' that are shown so we can compare what they look like in a month!  ;)
Tomato(Matina), fennel, oregano and purple annual plus water globe that needs some bleach.

Tomatoes in container, cheap big peony, pricy pathetic peony and columbine

Lettuce planted late, volunteer fennel, onions and weeds

Monday, April 2, 2012

First Tomatoes-Out, New Self Watering Container and other new stuff

The first tomatoes have left the cold frame.  This would be a full 4-6 weeks ahead of when you are "supposed" to put them out, depending on who you ask.  Worse, I have not added any weather protection yet, unless you count putting them in front of the brick column.  Nights are running around 45-50.  They won't freeze.  This container holds Katja and Seattles Woolly Blue Mammoth (my least favorite of the three specimens I am growing) .  The first to go out in my yard are always the ones I am most OK with losing.  Though I won't lose them.  I might stunt them a little, but I watch the weather closely.  If it gets dicey, this container has wheels and can easily come in the garage.  I will be interesting to measure the growth of these that are out with those that are rapidly outgrowing their containers but still in the coldframe.
Also in the container is an extra cinnamon basil and a bit of flower.

Speaking of this container, I was excited to see it.  It is self watering, holds 1.5 CU FT of soil, comes with wheels and its own elastic mulch cover.  It was $26 at Home Depot.  A far better deal than the Earthtainers that are out there.  Usually I make my own self watering containers.  I can do it in a hour, for about $15.  They are not particularly lovely though.  I picked this one up for the areas that need something a bit better looking.

I also did a bit of nursery shopping this weekend.  The Growing Place has opened for the season.  Pickings are still a slim for annuals, but tons of shrubs and perennials are already in.  I went to scope out moss.  I want some for around the pond.  I was going to buy it online but was curious if I could find it locally.  TGP had it.  For $3.99 for tiny plants!  I bought two test plants, one irish moss and another lighter green moss to see how they do.  If they are fast, they will be the parents and I'll just split them up and make a ton of moss babies.  As usual a couple of other things found their way into the basket.  Some jelly bean like viola's that I might plant, or I might give in a easter present, some dwarf goatsbeard that I have always wanted but never had the constantly moisture it needed and a new hosta..midnight ride.  That one was totally a blind purchase but now that I have looked it up, I am pleased.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Learning Lotus and Lilies

I've been gardening for a long time.  Because of this is it really weird to be working with a group of plants that I feel absolutely clueless about.  I'm experiencing this now with the water plants for the pond.  A couple of weeks ago I ordered a few plants to try things out.  I ordered 1 hardy water lily , one tropical water lily (Director T. Moore shown above) and 1 lotus (Thousand petals).  They came the other day along with an additional tropical lily called "Imperial".

I immediately panicked when I opened the package.  Basically they were water lilies set in giant baggies with a tiny bit of moisture in there.  The directions said plant immediately.  Okee Dokee no problem, how do I plant them?  The site I bought them from (Texas Water Lilies) had some really great directions.  I didn't skim them either which is why I was able to quickly observe that the tropical lilies want pond temperatures of at least 65 and preferably 70 degrees.  On the day the lilies came, it was 37 degrees outside.  I checked the pond and it was 61 degrees.  Surprising.  I decided that the 61 degrees wasn't going to last too long with the air temps being down so I had to figure out another plan.  The internet saved me here in that I was told to stick them in a big pot inside.  So that is where the tropical ones are now.
I'm a little concerned about T. More.  One of the leaves turned black.  It seems to be very sensitive to touch, bruises easily.  The bloom opens every morning and closes each night but I don't think this plant is happy.  I hope the weather gives me a bunch of heat soon so I can get this outside.

I'm toying with what to do about the lotus on the left.  It is just coming out of dormancy.  I have no idea if the stems it is showing need to be in the water or are OK above it.  I'm thinking of putting this in the pond this weekend.  The thing that gives me pause with all of this is that these were not inexpensive plants.  If they croak I am out a decent amount of cash.  I probably should have started with something cheaper, but I wanted to go to most pretty right away.  :P

The hardy water lily is in the pond.  I was worried that adding a pot full of clay would make the water cloudy.  It didn't at all.  I'm glad to get these started.  Plants in the pond, eat the nutrients in the pond.  Keeping nutrient levels down is a great way to keep algae suppressed.  Between that and the UV I turned on this past weekend.  I am hoping to avoid green floaters completely.  Except for those I want of course.  Hang in there T. Moore!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Rock On A Roll

I did a lot of research related to finishing my pond's edge.  There are many options, grass, time, small stone, a ring of boulders, poured edge, ring of flagstone etc etc.
My plan is still evolving in my head as I stare at this space a bit each day.  What I've know for sometime is that I do not want the common pearl necklace of flagstone around the edge (too formal).  I also wanted some flatter areas for easy access.  I also wanted low maintenance and didn't want to worry about thousands of tiny pebbles falling into the pond.  That is why I was so excited to find Rock on a Roll.   It is what it sounds like.  Rock.  On a roll.  It is completely flexible.  It shapes itself to conform to whatever it is laying over the top of.  It is water friendly, easy to work with and very realistically colored.

I am using it around the entire perimeter of my pond to cover and protect the liner.   It also does a fabulous job covering the wrinkles.  Wrinkles under rock on a roll just make the rock work look even more realistic.  Done right it ends up looking like a way more expensive poured shell.  Installation took a bit of time because I wanted a lip to the pond edge to help contain the mulch;/grass/moss that are coming.  I did this by gluing flexible plastic electrical gluing to the collar, then draping the liner over it, then the rock on a roll over that.  Landscaping fabric and mulch finished off the area in front of the seatwall.  All it needs now is some plants.  I started with a bit of phlox (I like its mossy look).  Added a bit of hardy lavender to the one end.  Coming soon are a few Canna, some wintergreen and a few other herbs to keep the edible theme going!  Yay Progress! 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Tomato Babies

Whoa, something major happened in the last few days.  It was either the watering with the pond water or the exposure to the rain storm.  Whatever it was, the tomato babies liked it a lot.  Growth has exploded for all but Hays.  They are now a month and a half old and are looking really good.

Today they are out of the cold frame and hanging in the foyer because we have a single day cold spell and the outlet normally used to operate their heater (light bulb) is  being used to operate the UV in the pond.  More on that tomorrow.

Despite the extended heat wave we had, I never got around to putting any of these guys out into their final locations, container or ground.  That's OK.  There isn't currently a rush.  Just so long as they are sized OK for their containers, they can sit tight for a week or so more.  Thought the potato leafs are starting to push it!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Potatoes-From Seed!

One way to take having way to many gardening tasks, is to nip at them a bit at a time.  Today has been back to back to back meetings.  But I just the 15 minutes it took them to get the bridge line running for the conference call to plant my potatoes.  This was easily done in the kitchen because this year I am planting them from seed!

Why seed you ask?  Mainly cooler varieties but also less expense.  Plus I want to try and do it.  I have never tackled it before.

My seeds were obtained from New World Seeds and Crops.  Tom Wagner has been breeding cool potatoes and tomatoes for years and I'm excited about the varieties I am trying.  One is called All Blue "All Blue The ubiquitous blue potato on the market. Blue skin , blue center with white ring. Pretty flowers."   The other is called Purple Valley. "This is the Korean potato that has All Blue as a parent. Much like the parent…purple skin, purple flesh and the F-2 offered should segregate for some excellent blues."  

I watched Tom's videos on how to plant them before doing so and am glad I did.  In the case of the potato from seed, there are clearly some wrong steps you can take.  Including leaving it in the pot for too long.  Anyway, these guys were planted and photographed in ten minutes, now its back to work!

Monday, March 19, 2012

I'm Never Going to Finish this Pond!

Sunday was another gorgeous day.  Eighty four degrees which is around 35 degrees above normal!  The goal was to complete the piping to the veggie filter, from the waterfall box and for the overflow line.  Before I could do the one from the overflow line, I had to cut a notch out of the concrete collar.  The notch is about 2.5 inches deep and about 14 inches long.  In other words ITS SMALL!

It took me five bleeping hours!  Yes five.  I attacked it with a sawzall, chisels and a circulating saw. Five hours later the little channel for the overflow pipe is done. Was I kicking myself for forgetting to put this in when the concrete was wet? You bet I was, lol. This was messy painful business. My husband was watching me and told me that my ratio of whacks to the chisel to whacks to my hand was roughly 4:1. Now you know why it took me five hours.

The only other thing complete was the planting of six pansies, the watering of the tomato babies and the ordering of some organic mosquito control tablets.  Oh well, the forecast for the rest of the week is good too.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Watercress and Waterworks

I went to California on Thursday for business and got back about 5am this morning.  I was disappointed about the flight delays because I was hoping to put a full day in on the pond today.   I did pretty good.  I grabbed about three hours sleep and then went at it.  The weather continues to be amazing.  Eighty four degrees today in mid-March!  We should still have snow on the ground, not green grass.  The Magnolia is starting to blossom and the roses are leafing out too.

This rapid advancement into the season is creating a bit of a problem in pond world.  The weather is dirty from the winter.  This isn't a problem with cold water, it will not smell.  I was hoping to have a long enough period of chill this spring that I could get the filtration up and running before the heat came.  I made a bit of progress towards that goal today.  The first of two runs to the filtration areas is completely connected now.  I'm hoping that tomorrow I can finish the drain to the high falls and then I can start playing with building the waterfall itself.

That's after I finish the the overflow....and the shape of the veggie pond filter...and the bottom drain of the veggie pond filter.  Gah, still lots to do but at least the weather is giving me the chance to do it.

Since the pond water is heating up I decided to toss a bit of rooted watercress in there to see what will happen.  I bought a bag at Whole Foods.  Of the entire bag only this tiny little sprout actually developed roots!  I really like the peppery flavor of watercress but its tought to get fresh.  I'm excited I might be able to grow my own.  This little spout is growing in the end of a swimming noodle that I chopped up.
In addition to the food value watercress can help the pond by eating up the nutrients in it.  The more nutrients you have the more algae you have, so the sooner I can get stuff growing the better.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Best Garden Book-EVER

I'm a voracious reader. On topics that I am interested in, even more so. I have consumed dozens and dozens of gardening books over the years. Most are pretty mediocre. This week,however, I am halfway through what I think is possibly the best book on gardening I have ever read. The name of the book is Gaia's Garden-Second Edition.

The book's focus is on the central message of permaculture, which is to create fantastic garden spaces by working with nature and not against it. Think of it as a combination of all of the best features of wildlife gardens, edible landscapes, organics, and conventional flower and vegetable gardens. Its about working with nature and restoring the soil and its nutrients while at the same time having a landscape that is not only pleasing to the eye but also sustaining to your local wildlife and your family's bellies.

It is not a book that will teach you how to plant a seed. You need to know that already. It is not a book that will direct you to rip out your yard and replace it with yards of corn. It is not a book that will tell you to rip out your lawn and fill it with native grasses and native flowers.  It teaches you can absolutely have landscaping that looks great, is low maintenance and still feeds you.  Without the need for carcinogenic sprays and dustings, expensive amendments or wasteful practices.

I like that the concepts in the book are for the average lot size and there are plenty of tips for those with urban sized lots. This book will leave you feeling OK about your current lot size and climate.  You need neither expansive acres nor tropical zones to accomplish its goals.  The book has very few pictures but it more than makes up for that with the dozens of extremely helpful tables. It is LOADED with information which means it is not a fast read.   Its the kind of book your read a bit and then think a bit. 

Basically it is geared towards those of us that want our home to have attractive landscaping AND want it to give food AND want it to be low maintenance AND want it to support some native insects and wildlife AND want to do it without a need for dumping "stuff" on it ever week. The best thing about this is that you can approach it in baby steps, little bits at a time.

As I read it I have been stuck by how easy it is to accomplish all of the above.   I've been struck  by how far we have strayed from these easy, common sense methods.   Instead resorting to damaging practices for quick (and temporary) gains.  These days I'm talking about this book anytime I'm around people with yards.  The ideas in it are so great and could serve us all greatly should they become the new norm.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Spring-The REALITY

The weather forecast is unreal.  Twenty-two degrees above normal for the next week plus.  That is the only thing unreal about today's blogging.  Some bring you close ups of lovely spring posies, cherry blossoms and robins.  Here at Mutiny in the Garden we give you a taste of Chicago spring reality.  First, ducks pooping in the new pond surrounded by the pond carnage itself.  Hey at least the leaves are gone!

Next, more pond mess so that one can appreciate just how much work there is left to do here.  If you think a large pond is little more than digging a hole and lining it.  Think again.  In the background is the snow blower being drained from its gasoline.  Buying the snowblower is what gave us the ridiculously mild winter.   Draining the snowblower will probably bring a blizzard.    Maybe mother nature will give me a break if I get the yard beautification going.
There is a whole lot of beautification to be done. I started at it hard core this weekend.  After picking up A LOT of sticks. I attacked the circle bed.  Soil is completely thawed so time for spring amendments.  A bit of organic bloodmeal and organic lime and a top coating of leaf mulch to keep down spring weeds.  That's it.  No soil destroying double digging or petroleum based chemicals in this bed.  If you look in the far right you can just make out some newly planted onions.  In the ground WAY ahead of schedule.

I forgot to take a picture of how messed up this bed was before it got its spring cleaning.  No matter.  It still is giving a good representation of March in Chicago.  Mushy, Drab, Messy.  It it all fits.  Here and there though, tiny peaks of promise.  No close ups though.  Today is big picture day!

In the back corner, begins some of sites that got pretty neglected last year when the pond took over.  Here we see some newly planted onions next to some dead purple cabbage and backed by dead perennials and some garlic I thought was dead.  It is hard here to see the difference between the freshly amended soil and the mess of mess topping the rest of it, but I promise  the 3x3 section surrounding the onions is done!
This is the shot you get of the berm bed when Stacy forgets to take a shot of the berm bed and is to lazy to get out of PJ's to do it.  From this distance the berm bed is a pleasant earthy brown with a whole lot of dead stuff in it.  The berm bed will be an entire two days to get in shape.  It will have to wait, the corner bed, front bed and side beds are first (after the pond).
Amazing how that dead purple cabbage pulls you right into the corner bed.  I almost look brilliant leaving it there all winter.  It almost makes you miss the large dead weeds, blotchy grass, the general bed debris and the massive pile of limbs in the neighbor's yard.  Almost.  This bed is being targeted this week for those periods of time where I stop working on the pond because I am scared to mess something up.

Productivity is the goal this season!  It is desperately needed.  Today's photos haven't even begun to show you the worst of it.  I have to get out of the jammies to get those taken.  ;)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Chicago: The New Zone 7

Spring in the area is often an exciting time.  We see huge temperatures swings from warmth to blizzard from gale to sleet.

This spring looks like it is going to be a bit different.  All of the long range forecast models at NOAA are predicting above normal temperatures.  WAY above normal.  Preciptation is also looking like it will be above normal for this area.

What does this mean for this gardener?  I will be going for my all time early records in garden harvests.  This weekend will be shorts and t-shirt weather out there (yeah in Chicago-good grief).  <--OK we are a hardy bunch, 55 is shorts and t-shirts here if you are working outside.  My plan is to get stuff out there NOW and to have plenty of back-up in case the usual Chicago whack kicks in and we get a blizzard in late April.

I'm excited about this, and yet still not a little bit concerned.  Twenty degrees above normal?  That is pretty darn abnormal.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Piece O'Crap Coldframe

If you are a zone pusher like I am, a cold frame is a critical piece of equipment.   Over the years my blog has featured some homemade, seriously ugly cold frames.  Some were a traditional design.  Last year I did the "tsunami" which included a back wall of water.  They have all had two things in common.  They were all really ugly and they were all very sturdy.  Having no problem whatsoever with our spring winds.

This year, in honor of the shiny new patio I decided to "upgrade" to a purchased, more attractive and theoretically more functional model.  I purchased the cold frame above.  It has been a huge waste of money.  I am two days into the first spring wind storm and already the frame is falling apart.  Now one could argue that perhaps it was never meant for 40-50 mph winds.  Fair enough.  Shouldn't one still be able to expect a frame that the lid closes squarely and tightly on?  Also, a means to anchor it other than the tiny wire I am supposed to hook over the tiny screw might be nice.

Because the frame is so ill fitting, I don't have nearly the insulation value of previous ugly frames, which means a lot more careful watching of the weather and will likely mean a lot more hauling plants back inside.  What a disappointment.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Where's the Woolly and other Freak Searches

I am growing a few seedlings this year that I check several times a day for evidence weirdness.  I'm definitely drawn to plants that are unusual and this year has been no exception.  When I heard there was a really furry tomato that was also BLUE I had to have it.  I later read the rest of the description and learned it was an F3, meaning that chances were good that there was going to be a whole lot of variety in the seeds.  Ruh roh, that means I might not get the fuzzy blue I'm pining for!

My angst over Seattle's Blue Woolly Mammoth has surrounded whether or not I  was lucky to choose a few seeds from the pack  that will give me the traits I want.  So far so good.  Despite my horrible camera skills I think it is clear that I have some blue (aka purple) going on with these guys.  Since these are the only purple ones in the tray I'm hopeful their blue(purple) is from breeding and not from cold which can happen with tomatoes.

The other trait I am hoping for is big time fuzz!  I'm talking seriously hairy weird looking plants.  Again, the early signs are good.  The plant on the left definitely has the fuzziest stem out of any plants in the tray.  The seedling in the foreground looks like its first set of real leaves might have some big hairs going on.  If I have to choose between blue and fur I choose blue but I really want both.

The other current freak getting a lot of poking these days is a single seedling of Maiden's Gold.  Two of these seedlings are very green.  One is not.  Since I really love this color of green, I am hopeful this will be its mature color and that is lighter color is not a symptom of some sort of nutrient deficiency.  That would be strange since it is sharing the exact same soil as the other greener seedlings but I have asked about it at Tomatoville. Tomatoville is where way smarter tomato than me hang out. 

Finally the last freak in the tray is Fuzzy Pink Boar.  This one is bugging me because it has such a cool name and the plant looks absolutely normal.  I need to find out if the only fuzz on this plant is on the tomato, which might be disappointing except for the fact that the colors on the tomato are cool all by them self.  I guess time will tell!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Hole-A Pond Story part Seven

Stacy Pulls A Pond and other acts of insanity. 

This occurred Nov 10, 2011, sharing it now.

Today's weather: Cold 30 degrees, windy, rainy, yucky, blechy, blah
Today's mission: Remove 2398472 wet leaves from pond and net it at last
Today's plan: Buy cabana boy pool skimmer thing. Put on rubber garden boots. Remove leaves. Net pond.

Work took me to New York this week. Got back last night. Unfortunately the pond netting didn't get delivered before I left and while I was gone we had another major wind storm and a whole lot of rain. Good news is pond is holding water! Bad news is that pond is holding leaves.   Lots and lots of them. It is also thirty degrees out there right now, which means leaf removal is going to be chilly business!

The pond cover netting came while I was gone. Today's plan was to get the leaves out, get the netting up and fix the liner that started to fall in. Tick tock tick tock, not much time left. Had flakes flying last night! I need to make this quick because I am a popsicle and need to defrost with a shower. I spent $25 on the cabana boy pool skimmer thing and it was money wasted.  It was was taking forever to get the leaves out and I was freezing.  It was so flat, the leaves kept drifting off the top, my cute rubber boots were not tall enough, got a bit of water in them... you get the picture. Also, it was really really cold out.

I needed a new plan. My second plan was to try and mimic what I saw on a koi forum when they all capture the koi by dragging a giant net thru the water. I would use my shiny new 15x20 foot net and drag it thru the water and capture all the leaves at once. FAIL.  Unfortunately I forgot that they do it with a dozen or so people holding the netting, in water that is a few degrees warmer than freezing. This didn't work solo. Though no doubt the neighbors probably enjoyed the production.

Oh Yay snow.  Fan-frickentastic.

Right around this time it started snowing. Charming little flakes which would have been exciting if I wasn't so cold. At this point I exited the pond grabbed my cabana boy pool thing and tried to get the net to stop being so floaty. Didn't work. (Duh)

Then I had a mini-tantrum where I started whacking at it in frustration. This caused a brick that was on the edge of the pond to fall into the water, onto the net, weighting down the edge. Hey now, this could work! I started sort of stirring the water, guiding the leaves to the net and because one edge was down and the annoying floaty edge stayed up, I was able to create a current by pulling the water one way. This worked brilliantly, the leaves came up off the bottom, but got stuck in the net. I had most of them netted in about twenty minutes. I was pretty cool how great it actually worked. It had also stopped snowing. Things were looking up. I just had to get this massive net now filled with bazillions of wet heavy leaves out of the pond.

Got pretty well soaked doing that. Now actively shivering but almost done!

I started getting the net across the pond for final placement. This was harder than it should have been primarily because I should have bought a bigger net. If I pulled too hard on one side, the net edge fell in the water, and I had to get in the water AGAIN to fish it out. Eventually I figured out it was impossible for one person to get this done before hypothermia set in.  (I was actively shivering at this point.   Luckily the school bus arrived and I could recruit a munchkin to assist. Munchkins wanting stuff are easy to recruit. My munchkin was hoping for some new tunes We got it placed in about five minutes and weighted down with bricks . I immediately realized the bricks would never hold. Too many leaves. I went searching for stakes and string. Settled for 16 gauge electrical wire and chunks of wood. Wrapping wire is easier than tying knots when fingers are icy and painfully numb.
Yes, those are some leaves still under the net.  *Grumble*

Unfortunately by this time it has started sleeting. Giant chunks of icy fun. Pretty darn sucky. <--{PC version of what I really mean}. I got about six stakes in and decided to call it quits for today. The final straw was after moving a bit of tarp I was almost killed by nuclear spider. He is clearly freakish and dangerous because spiders aren't supposed to be alive when it is snowing and he was very much alive, waving his hairy legs around like that. He could be a brown recluse, which you definitely don't want a bite from. Particularly if he is nuclear.
Nuclear Spider

If you don't hear from me for awhile it is either because I have pneumonia, my husband has had me committed for insanity, or nuclear spider got me.

February 28th, 2012
The above is where I left it last fall.  At one point I had to remove the netting because we had a big snowstorm and I didn't want the snow to rip it.  Now the ice is covered with lots of leaves that I need to clear off before the thaw.  Hopefully today.  This is what the unfinished pond has looked like all winter.