Saturday, March 28, 2015

there's always light somewhere


Bless dear friends, near and far,

Today I am grateful for
good friends
a hot bath
a warm place to sleep

Thursday, March 19, 2015

guest post on Ponds, from Josh Nicholas of Swallow Aquatics

How to get and keep your pond healthy ready for summer

Good news everyone! Spring is on its way, winter has finally ended and hopefully we will soon be seeing some sunny days, a little less rain and feeling that itch to get out into the garden once again!

If you're anything like me, this time of year also means it is time to do some maintenance in order to get your garden fighting fit ready for the summer months, and one of the first items on your list should be your garden pond - after all, this is the time of year when new frogs are coming into the world.

So with that in mind, I have decided to give you a few friendly tips to maintain your garden pond. How to prepare it for summer and keep it healthy and full of life. Gardening gloves at the ready? Good, let's begin.

Remove bubbler and heater

Depending on where you live and the ecosystem of your pond you may have installed a heater and a bubbler over the winter in order to keep your fish alive. Don't forget to remove it now that the weather is getting warmer.

Remove debris

The first step in any pond maintenance of course is to remove any debris from the pond. Over the winter, chances are good that you haven't been doing this, so now is the time to do a thorough clean out.

Grab those big bits of debris such as fallen leaves and sticks, but it is also worth using a skimming net to get the finer debris. A skimmer net will have finer holes that a regular pond net, so it will pick up even small bits of debris, hence improving water clarity and allowing more light into your pond. Additionally, here's a handy guide to using your garden hose to remove debris.

And for bigger ponds, consider using a pond hoover (like this one) to gently remove excess silt and debris from the water. These are well worth the investment and will help to keep your pond nice and clean.

Check water health

Next, you should check the health of the water by measuring the PH levels, ammonia and nitrate and nitrite levels. The correct levels will again depend on various factors, but there are plenty of guides for measuring each. Here's one q and a that may help.

Change the water

If the levels are off, or if the water is particularly dirty, it may be worth partially changing the water in the pond. Emptying and replacing around 30% of the water in the pond should be sufficient and safe.

You can use your regular pond pump to pump the water out of the pond, and then a regular hose and bucket to fill it back up.

Before adding water to the pond though, you should use a water conditioner, which will remove the chlorine, ammonia and any other nasty chemicals which might harm your fish or your plants.

Save your water!

Just a note here. Pond water is very nutritious, full of nitrogen and other nice things that your plants will love, so after double checking based on what plants you have, feel free to use the excess pond water to feed and water the plants - they will thank you for it come spring time.

Pump maintenance

Next, you should have a look at your pond pump - particularly if it has been turned off over the winter. As a minimum, take it out and check the inlet for debris or a build up and plants, soil and general gunge.

A good clean out will keep it functioning well, failure to do so may cause slowed water flow and even burn out, which will cost you a new pump and cause a drop in oxygen levels in the pond. Here's a YouTube video to show you how!

Add beneficial bacteria

Finally, don't resort to harmful algae treatments which will use nasty chemicals. Instead, get a natural pond treatment which contains friendly bacteria. It's just like one of those yoghurts, but for your pond and will keep your ponds ecosystem healthy and algae free.

If you follow all of these tips, you will never need to use chemicals, your pond will be healthy, full of life and the water will stay clearer than ever before.

Thanks for reading, and good luck with your pond maintenance this summer!

Post contributed by Josh from Swallow Aquatics garden centre.
Thanks for reading!