From Green Sludge to beyond...


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Just starting this now, for providence, so I can record progress....

I have only been living in the new house, with the inherited green puddle of doom for a week, and have become obsessed with the pond - checking it several times per day, fussing over it, in the non directional confused state of a total novice!!

Hoping in time, it will become a lagoon of love for the fish-fingers that currently inhabit it, and all the flies and newts too.

In years, I will deepen it, and perhaps change the water fall, making it a bit taller, putting in a better pump, and so on.

But now, my focus is on sorting out the chemical balances and fighting the copious Algae.... but without too much hard work, as we finish renovating our house too!

3pond 20.7.13 by dennypixie, on Flickr


2pond 20.7.13 by dennypixie, on Flickr


1pond 20.7.13 by dennypixie, on Flickr

http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3834/9325797069_0424c7545d.jpg
fish fingers by dennypixie, on Flickr
 
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Ok, here's day two of the work:

Today we have found that the outlet for the swimming pool just opens out on the slope above the pond....nice bit of planning there. The fish will love chlorine, I am sure!

Today we found that for some obscure reason, we have bared electrical cables, that go over and under the ground randomly, to power the pump.

We dicovered that lily pads smell bad, when you pull them out of a half empty pond, and that pond rocks are slippery....not surprising, really.

We found loads of larvae and critters, baby newts, grown up ones, too, so we have saved everything we can and got most of the fish out.

We found out that the pump has NO filter. Not at all. It's an OASE 4000 Eco pump. So it looks to be ok, will clean it a little and put it back in when we have finished, and put in the new bio filter pump I have bought.

Also, a genius bit of design. The slope just ran directly into the top of the waterfall, so now I know why we were getting big algae blooms in the pond after heavy rain! Dig out a bit of a moat, which I will be filling with gravel for drainage. May well make it a bit deeper, though....

We finished hacking out the hedges,, I will be getting some new small bushes to put around the pond, so that we have shade for critters, but they will be easy care, easy to trim, etc....

I have decided to create a boggy plant filter, at the bottom of the waterfall, it will be about 18" deep and filled with gravel, that we retrieve from the pond. Before the new liner goes in I will be power washign the stoned, both in the waterfall and also the ones that will go back in around the edge too.

So, this is the point that we are regretting ever starting this job:





 
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Ok, day 3 - Boulders shifted. We are doing this all by hand (saving money & getting fit!). Both of us have fallen over in the pond, so we are now fully initiated in pond ownership, and also we have various injuries. I have developed a funny walk, due to a dodgy muscle in my thigh, no idea why!! Still it is entertaining Jon! As I said in my other post, we have saved over 20 baby newts, 5-6 juvenile newts, 3 adults (2 common and one palmate) and all the fish, not to mention tonnes of larvae - including broad bodied chaser and normal dragonfly larvae.

So, the trick is to make sure we have easily accessible edges, but that they aren't too low, to avoid run off from the rest of the garden....lots of rocks will help...

So to the pics....




And the least offensive pic of me working...


So that's all folks!!
 
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Ok, so here is today's progress. Today we dug out the gravel, we removed the top liner fleece, innumerable scraps of pond liner, the pond liner itself and also the fleece under it, and also then removed as much of the sand as possible, ready to dig it all out.

We found that actually the pond is about 70cm deep to the point of the water table in the ground here, so we backfilled it to the level of the wate, so we aren't splashing about and sloshing in mud, as we dig. We backfilled it with gravel and also sand. Also, dug the gully around the head of the fountain deeper, then filled with gravel for drainage. Now we have the liners laid all over the lawn, to dry out. It was quite hot today, so we didn't quite get as far as we hoped. We had hoped to begin widening the hole today. Ho-Hum!

We decided to leave the earth to dry a little. So tomorrow we are getting in with our pick and mattock, and we will begin digging and reshaping. We decided to leave it at 70 cm below the intended pond water line, we were going to do it to 100cm, but don't fancy sloshing about in the extra 30cm of water, and read somewhere that it isn't ideal to put the pond in below the natural water table in the ground? Not sure, but frankly, we are a bit tired and a bit broken now! We have timber to sure up the drop from the bog bit into the main pool. We have our plans, we have the rock, oh God, do we have the rocks!!!

When we have sculpted it to our plans, we will put the saved sand back in, then the new pond fleece liner, then the actual black pond liner, whilst arranging the rocks around the edges (once they have been pressure washed, and folding the liner where needed.

I will need to clean the algae off the rocks on the waterfall. It appears to be dead, and completely dried out, so planning to remove it with a wire brush and sweep it off. I think this will be good. Also, I will be removing the gravel, to bleach, with the rest we have, so we can introduce it to the bog and fall, and edges, once we have got the fish back in, as we have a shortage of tubs, to bleach (peroxide) the stones in.

Just trying to focus on the fact that shortly we can fill it again, and then life will be a lot better!! It's that point when it is all completely dissembled, and you aren't sure you have done the right thing, and aren't sure how much longer it will take! We will sort the rockery and the boggy bit at our leisure, as it is not so urgent!

We will need to get the electrics sorted and make them safer, as have a lot of fieldmice in our garden (although they are deeply upset at being disposessed, when hedges cut back, and we have the Ivy being removed soon, so that is another hideyhole they loose. They keep squeaking really loudly at the moment, I am presuming they are all on a mass freakout!!! So noisy for such tiny creatures!!

Before we put the critters back in the pond, I will get pics of the fish and the baby frondy newts. They are awesome!
Fleeces drying on the lawn, so we can put them in the car and get rid of them!.


Big old piles of sand and gravel, at least it seems big when you shift it all by hand!!



As much sand as we could reasonable save was removed, this is a really fine coating, less than .5cm thick, but looks loads!!




The gully, filled with pebbles:


Putting in a little ledge under the bog, for creatures to bask, as have noticed the baby newts like to sun themselves, in the water, so want to make them a space that will be safe to just bask. The flowing water from the bog will be pretty slow, with all the gravel and plant roots, so it shouldn't be too traumatic, and they seemed to like to gather just near the bottom of the fall, anyway, so want to accommodate them! I hope they will find it. Might do a couple of other ledges around too, but a little higher, so they can't be reached by the fish...

I am hoping that eventually, it will look sort of similar to how it did before, but with more depth, and less algae and yuck over everything.... and also, will be putting some nice plants into the rockery, whilst making sure it is attractive, and also a nice environment for the toads, and newts too. But I think it will take a couple of years for everything to settle in and look good.... we shall see how it all goes! An adventure, to say the least! We always felt the original set up was pretty, but just not practical. No filter or anything, it was getting clogged, with what we now know as run off from the slope above, and without the filter, well, the algae and dead algae just kept going, despite all the water chemical levels being good, good bacteria etc. Shame really!
 
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So, just started writing a post, then disappeared it!
We are exhausted, it is dark (9.20pm) and I am afraid the pics aren't great due to the darkness!
We have been digging, but it was very stony, so we got an auger, hired it for the day. It looks like this:


We have dug the pond to about 60cm deep. Unfortunately, due to it being 31°C here, the clay soil baked. Even the auger has been struggling! We were going to dig it to 1m deep, but then, hit the water table at 70cm deep, and we are wondering what we will do....might just have to quit at 60cm. That is quite annoying as that is only just under 2 foot deep I think perhaps I will just water it with some water overnight, to soak in, then perhaps I will then be able to use the auger to get the last 10cm out of it....

So the pressure is on, because we want to get it lined by Saturday, ideally tomorrow night, because we have rain coming on Sat....I am thinking: Free water!!

It is soooo stony, I think we will double line it, using the old liner we took out, to get it nicely sorted. We really need to level off the bottom of the pond, then we need to just dig out the bog area and the plan shelves, tomorrow. BUt that is relatively little, given that we have just dug out 37sq feet, roughly. We have removed all the soil (mainly stones) by hand....

So, how the pond looked originally, compared to what we have now done to it....


But on the up side, we did manage to somehow inadvertently dig it into a heart!:

Awwwwww!
 
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Ok, half way through day, and here is progress so far:






And last but not least, had to record the dodgy pond hair malfunction!!

I also appear to have a bit of a dirt moustache!

We have dug it out to a fairly uniform 2 feet deep. We have filled in the puddles. They are a bit squidgy, but it will be fine. For some reason, it is just in one spot, but the rest of the pond is dry....must just be a variation in the water table, a slight "spring" or something. We are now just getting the contours right, by sculpting the plant shelves....have dug out the mini boggy filter bit. Noticed that the plants we had were only in a couple of inches or gravel, so I think they will love being able to stretch out into 1foot of gravel!! Even if we just get to the point of dumping the liner in, and folding it, I will be happy, will leave the sides high, until we have been able to clean the stones, and put them in. but in the interim, I think we can fill it, and get the fish in, which is good. The rest, we can do in our own time. Away for a few days next week, so will be some time after that. Will put in strategic rock to hold things in place though!! :) I will do the bog on Monday, when the weather is better....
 
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So, tonight, we did really well, we got the sand in....levelled it out, stamped it down. A couple of in the dark Pics.


Today, we have worked like trojans. It has been up to 30°C. Not the hottest here, but it is damn hot in the sun digging and mattocking dried clay.

The immensely bad news is that the rain is now coming in tonight, not tommorrow. OUr goal was to have the liner in by tonight, and we are exhausted. Neither of us have ever exerted ourselves like this before. IT feels like a puny little marathon, for one day would be sooooooo easy. And we are really proud of getting this far. :)
 
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The amazing thing is that we managed to dig deeper in our energy.

We lined it with fleece, and then we managed, in the dark to get the liner in. Ok, it is just laid in there, and needs folding etc, but it is in, and of we have it protected before the rain comes!

So proud of my darling hubby, and also me! We really thought we wouldn't make it, but soooooooo utterly pleased! :)

Sleeping in late tomorrow!
 
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So, here we are at day 8. Yesterday we trimmed the liner, and then put in a few rocks, just to hold it all in place. We filled it with water, treated the water and got the pumps running.

So today, I have been stood mostly in water, freezing to death. Today, I have assembled the little boggy filter bit, and was please that the plants have a lot of root mass. Also, I was able to split them up a bit, so they can grow bigger, in different spots. I have planted up the waterlillies, in some tiny gravel I found in the shed, left by the previous owners. And then we introduced the critters and fish. So awesome. The water is murky and brown, but did all the chemical tests. The KH is a bit high, so need to find out how to adjust that. Will test again in a couple of days, to see if any change now life has gone in.

the lilies appear to be deeply confused and their leaves are all over the place! The stalks are long enough, but the actual leaves are all messed up. I am sure that will somehow sort itself out. I am hoping that by not messing with it, it will all settle in nicely.

I am hoping to get hold of some water snails and possibly some goldfish, depending on how they will cope with the cold winters and whether they will eat too much of the spawn, or breed too much. But then, the eggs and fry will feed the newts, too.... I only want to get 2 or 3 gold fish, to compliment the fish fingers.

So,to the pictures:



So far the only things we have bought are the biofilter pump, the fleece and the liner. Everything has been recycled and put back in.

My mini bog/filter - small but perfectly formed. I am glad the plants can't dry out here....before they were at the very edges, and it all kept drying out! Under the "dry wall" I put together to contain it, there are big flat stones, protruding to make a little shelf, for various critters to sit. Noticed the baby newts liked sunning themselves in shallows, so hope this will help....not that you can see it yet!

The baby newt, who is seriously tiny....he has pink little gill things....soooo cute!

To give a sense of perspective:

. photo bombed by the backswimmer!
This is a backswimmer, only found one. :(

Dragon fly larvae?


I think this is also a dragonfly:


That's all folks. Off for some more well deserved rest! :)
 
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Just to update the pond development... we are still learning! Spring has sprung and now we have some summer! We have put in most of the rocks around the edge of the pond now. IT seems all the fish survived. We have had Newt (salamander/mudpuppies) lay spawn which has produced hundreds of little tadpoles. :) I have seen some red damsel flies doing their thing, and I have seen some dragonfly larvae looking fit to burst. We now have about 6 big newts in the pond, I think they are returning. I am hopeful that the pond will recover

Sadly we had one fish die, it's a non descript minnow, but the newts ate it, before I had time to get it out - it looked like it had been bitten, some of it's head was removed! I have just found one newt, which appears to have 2 bite wounds, or beak wounds, and some white fluff growing out of the wounds. I have read that I can lightly salt some water, and put the newt in to recover. I can give it a couple of tadpoles from the pond, to eat, see if it perks up?!? Not sure.

Have a flashy silver sided pyramid now in the pond, which is to deter birds, so hoping that will do it's job.

Have put in some small reeds, some pond weed and some water lettuce and other surface growing greenery in a bid to tackle the algae. It has come back, it's nowhere near as bad. I am hoping that the greenery will slowly pick up mass and out compete the algae, but for now, it can stay as the tadpoles are eating it up and getting fat! ;)

We will need to sort the rockery around the pond, but to be honest, I am now 6months pregnant, so I think it will wait until next year!

:)
 

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