Accidental pondkeeper

Discussion in 'Introductions' started by koshki, Oct 18, 2013.

  1. koshki

    Tula

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    Like the simplicity of this:) Might use the watering can idea as a water feature next summer! Kim
     
    Tula, Oct 24, 2013
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  2. koshki

    koshki

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    Depending on outside temps, it is usually in the mid to low 40s, sometimes in the 30s, but I can't remember anything actually freezing in it. While it's not heated, it is attached, and has a well-insulated garage door. It's on the opposite side of the prevailing winds. I've got a min/max thermometer in there now, and if temps get too low, I could run a space heater in there for a while.

    I visited my local pond store today, and the woman was very helpful. She recommended an external air pump and an air rock (?). I already have some large containers that I can use. At first I thought it might be cruel to put the fish in a rectangular box, but they are already spending most of their time in the skimmer, and that has a lid on it and is smaller. I should use the pond water, and stop feeding them.

    This has a couple benefits over the heater idea we'd been thinking about. First, I think it will be a lot cheaper to run the pump rather than a heater. Second, we won't have any worries about the heater damaging the pond liner. Third, we can turn off the pond pump.

    She also told me that my new pond only needs to be 24" deep to be able to keep goldfish outside next winter (our frost line is about 18".) Twenty-four inches is exactly the same maximum depth my local city ordinances allow for unlicensed and unfenced ponds.

    And best of all, she gave me the idea of hiring a couple high school boys next summer to bust up the cement apron under the pond and dig the holes. Much cheaper than the landscaping guys!

    If we keep the waterfall in the same place, and expand the perimeters a bit, I calculated a 24" deep pond would hold approximately 525 gallons. Still small, but a big improvement over the measly 50-60 gallons I have now!
     
    koshki, Oct 24, 2013
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  3. koshki

    Tula

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    Sounds like things are moving along:) I'm sure the gold fish will be fine in your garage, especially with the air stone. Kim
     
    Tula, Oct 24, 2013
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  4. koshki

    koshki

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    The only remaining thing I need to do is talk my hubby into it! :neutral:
     
    koshki, Oct 25, 2013
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  5. koshki

    shakaho

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    There is no reason to heat the garage pond if it isn't freezing. I suggest you run a filter through the winter. Water circulation will keep the pond open just in case you have a rare freeze. How a big a container are you planning to use? If the lowest temperature is ~ 40F, there will be plenty of warmer temperatures when you fish need food and produce waste. My fish eat until the water temperature gets down to about 55F, although their need for food decreases. They do produce waste. They need filtration and a generous amount of water per fish.
     
    shakaho, Oct 25, 2013
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  6. koshki

    Kristi Kelty

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    Very interesting Shakaho! So fish will sort of hibernate over the winter and be ok without eating? I had not known that..... Any more info on that would be very welcome~
     
    Kristi Kelty, Oct 25, 2013
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  7. koshki

    CountryEscape

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    The koi's metabolism slows way down when the water goes below about 50 degrees. Therefore, to keep feeding them could be deadly. They find all sorts of things to graze on during the winter in an established pond. This is why you should never scrub all algae off of the liner. It's part of the eco system, and provides some food for the fish during the cold months.
     
    CountryEscape, Oct 25, 2013
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  8. koshki

    Kristi Kelty

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    I've left most of the algae and stuff on the bottom of the pond~ but removed leaves, etc. But the hyacinths are not going to make it apparently-- although I do have Canna and water lillies still. I plan to leave the filter on and take the fountain off for the winter. It's about 55-58 right now in there.....
     
    Kristi Kelty, Oct 25, 2013
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  9. koshki

    shakaho

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    Kristy, as CountyEscape said, the metabolic rate of cold-blooded animals depends on the temperature. When the water temperature of my ponds is in the 80s during the summer, my fish eat like pigs, produce lots of waste, require good filtration and generous water changes. As the temperature drops into the 70s, like it is now, if I don't decrease feeding, debris starts to collect on the bottom of the pond. When the temperature drops to the 60s, my fish aren't interested in eating in the morning, and I'm feeding about half of what I do in the summer. Most of my fish don't even look to be fed when the water temperature drops to 55F. They just lie in a group on the bottom of the pond. It doesn't get much lower here, so I stop feeding at 55F. Some people feed lightly down to 50F.

    This doesn't mean the fish don't eat at all. Even under ice, fish will sometimes be seen nibbling on algae or detritus. This is super slow motion feeding and they consume very little food. Any ice fisherman will tell you that a fish lying in the 39F water at the bottom of an ice-covered lake will grab a piece of food dangled in front of it even though it doesn't have the energy to swim after food. Likewise, if you give your fish pellets (highly concentrated food) in a cold pond, some of them will eat them. The problem is, everything is slowed way down, including their digestive tracts. The food will take much longer than normal to pass through the gut, which can cause problems.

    Fish food companies can make more money if they can sell special food seasonally. So they make the spring and fall foods which are lower in protein and higher in carbohydrates than the regular food. This is supposed to be "more digestible," but I have seen no evidence to support this. Higher carbohydrates usually results in more solid waste. What is does have is less protein, which should result in less ammonia production from the fish. Nitrifying bacteria are less efficient in cold water, so producing less ammonia is a good thing. You can accomplish the same thing by feeding less of the regular food.
     
    shakaho, Oct 25, 2013
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  10. koshki

    Kristi Kelty

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    Thank you Shakaho for this info! Very interesting and totally new to me.
     
    Kristi Kelty, Oct 25, 2013
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  11. koshki

    sissy sissy

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    I am so in love with your sun room and would love one and what a collection of plants .When you said plants and sun room I expected a few but WOW .I built a wheel chair accessible home for the future and was thinking ahead .It is a modular house and they were able to follow all the rules including outlet height ,wider doors and swing free hinges and amazed that they are a bigger help for any buddy .I have a bad back and those outlets are a big help
     
    sissy, Oct 27, 2013
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  12. koshki

    koshki

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    Thanks, Sissy. I had the move-in year wrong...2009 was the move, 2005 was the wheelchair. My orchid collection started to grow in the fall of 2009, and when that photo was taken, I had about 250.

    Good planning on your part on your home design! So many of my friends (we're all approaching retirement age) have told me that their thinking about a retirement home has changed because of me.

    We put a sidewalk around the yard so I would quit going out on the lawn and getting stuck (I have had to call every one of my neighbors to help get me unstuck!) Now my DH thinks everyone should have a walkway around their yard...it's so convenient!
     
    koshki, Oct 27, 2013
    #52
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  13. koshki

    sissy sissy

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    I think these days you have to think way ahead ,the you never know part can sneak up on you .WOW that is a lot of orchids .I have been thinking about trying the for years but heard they were hard to grow and others tell me easy .Maybe I will give them a try now after seeing you can take care of all yours .Great that you adapted your yard and can get out and garden in the fresh air .
     
    sissy, Oct 28, 2013
    #53
  14. koshki

    CountryEscape

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    So, Koshki, what IS the secret to raising orchids? I went to a flower show in the spring, and bought one orchid that was blooming. It had beautiful flowers (3) for quite a while, and then they died, which is normal. I remember the guy telling me that I think maybe in early spring that I should take the plant out of the container, gentle "tickle" the roots, then put it back in the same container, or slightly larger one, but not very large, they like to be tight in the pots. Is this what you do, or do you have other pointers for newbies with orchids? Mine is still alive, so I've done that much!
     
    CountryEscape, Oct 29, 2013
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  15. koshki

    koshki

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    Ok, but I caution you...orchids can be as addicting as ponds! Don't say I didn't warn you!

    I got my first orchid when I was in the hospital in 2005. Killed it. Then a Costco orchid. Killed it. Repeat several times until 2009 when we were remodeling the new house. During one of my many trips to Home Depot, I saw a book...Miracle Gro's Guide to Growing Orchids. Within an hour of reading, I had a really good idea of what I had been doing wrong.

    The key to growing orchids is knowing what their native growing environment is like. For example, a lot of phalaenopsis hybrids have the species amabilis in them. Amabilis is native to Malaysia, the Philippines and Australia, often attached high in trees in dense forest. They are not parasitic; they take no nutrients from the trees, but are simply attached by their roots in places where they receive dappled light, get regular rain on their roots, but then dry out between rainfalls.

    Translated to hobby growing, they like bright but not direct sunlight, enjoy temperatures similar to in our homes, and the roots get water but then air dry. Ideally, we would all grow them mounted on things like cork bark, but realistically for a home grower, it is impractical to water orchids every day. So we put them in pots---to suit us, not them---which is where the difficulty comes in. I think most orchids like phals are probably killed by overwatering in a medium that does not allow the roots to get air, rather than by underwatering.

    So the trick is watering them enough (like a good soak in a bowl of water for 20 minutes or so), then allowing them to almost dry out before watering them again. And the really BIG trick is knowing how your medium is drying in the pot. Moss, like sphagnum moss (lots of phals are planted in this, especially for big box stores) can be packed way too tight (remember the roots like air) and stay wet too long before drying out, which leads to the roots rotting.

    I use a mix of ground coconut (called coir), charcoal and perlite as my medium for phals. I like it because it gives the roots a steady supply of water to the roots, but is "airy" and lets the roots breathe, so to speak. When the medium has just been watered, it's the color of dark chocolate. When it looks like milk chocolate, it's time to water again.

    Not everyone likes this, or do their conditions make this the best mixture for their orchids (and I only use it for phals...other orchids have different mixes according to their needs.)

    As for "tickling the roots", lol, that is funny, I have not heard that before. I suppose a good repotting would do the tickling! As for the "tight shoes" idea. Orchids don't grow in tight pots in nature, and in the home they don't grow any better in a tight pot than a larger one, except for this important point. Larger pots dry less quickly, and that can result in root rot. In the case of phals, it is a diurnal temperature drop of 10-15° for a few weeks that generally initiates spiking (as long as the season is right.)

    This is a very long-winded answer to your questions. I love talking orchids, so if you have more questions, fire away.

    Oh, and what was really my downfall...I joined orchidgeeks.com. A friendly international forum of orchid geeks who are oh too willing to post tempting photos of orchids you've never heard of but suddenly can't live without! Enter at your own risk!

    Some of my babies

    DSC07382 - Copy.JPG

    _DSC6769 - Copy.JPG

    DSC00758 - Copy.JPG
     
    koshki, Oct 29, 2013
    #55
  16. koshki

    mtpond

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    I also love orchids. I started growing them about 6 years ago. What I love about orchids is there are so many different colored flowers and big to small flowers. The flowers last a long time and some of them are very fragrant. This is the only one that I have blooming right now.
    009.jpg
     
    mtpond, Oct 29, 2013
    #56
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  17. koshki

    CountryEscape

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    Wow, great info, Katherine. Thanks so much. Yes, I can definitely see how people with room to grow them can get addicted. I don't have the room, and don't really care to have any plants inside (I know that I have allergies that are associated with moist dirt that grows mold ...), so I'm safe from your temptations, although I was not safe when I saw the plants in person! At least I have not killed mine yet. I'll try repotting it in December, see if that will stimulate it to grow. I know the orchid dealers had special soil that they sold, and also special fertilizer to add to the water. I didn't buy the soil, just the fertilizer, and I only water my plant about every 3 weeks, so the soil probably stays wetter than it should.
     
    CountryEscape, Oct 29, 2013
    #57
  18. koshki

    Kristi Kelty

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    I gave my folks a Cymbidium orchid once and it grew happily on their deck with little care.....really pretty plant!
     
    Kristi Kelty, Nov 5, 2013
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