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Be careful not to step in the big hole


At the beginning of the summer I was complaining about my lack of asparagus, and blamed it on lack of water. My super smart SIL was like, “you could put in a water feature, and where the water splashed out, that would provide moisture for the asparagus” and I was like, “yeah, I guess that would work, but…wait, I have a water feature!” Okay, the water feature is a horse trough, aka the Hillbilly Goldfish Pond,what would happen if I moved some asparagus plants over to  it?

See, at the end, it's like an infinity-edge pool, except not...

See, at the end, it’s like an infinity-edge pool, except not…

When I first set up the pond, I tamped down the soil to make it level, but over the couple of years of its existence , it has slumped down on the north side, so that is where I dug the hole. I don’t have a fountain, but when I refill it, it trickles over the side on that end. I dug down about 8 inches, added some compost, then transplanted an asparagus plant over from where they don’t get enough water.

A hole in the yard is not exactly the look I am going for, but I have high hopes for next year.

A hole in the yard is not exactly the look I am going for, but I have high hopes for next year.

As it grew, the plan was to add more compost, until the plant and the soil were at ground level. I watered the little baby asparagus the same way I water the containers around the pond- just before I feed the goldfish, I use a cup to dump water on each of the plants- they love the “nutrient rich” water. This worked great for a few weeks, then we went out of town, and I came back to nothing.
There wasn’t a dried up stem, it was just gone. I might blame rabbits, or squirrels, but the other asparagus plants, the ones that don’t get enough water? They are fine. Other than the fact that they don’t get enough water.
So, I put a little fence around the hole in the ground, and I will try again next year. I am convinced that the idea of putting asparagus near a water feature is a good one. Just try not to step in the hole, please.

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Self watering pot- a goldfish story.


Frozen Hillbilly Goldfish Pond.

Frozen Hillbilly Goldfish Pond.

I pinned something on Pinterest that was repinned more times than anything else I have put up. Then, my brother found it somewhere and sent it to me, as well.  It is a tutorial for a mini pond in a pot, with divisions for a wetland area with more soil and cattails, and a pond area, with a water lily. It is honestly adorable.

I have worked my way up in mini-ponds- from a 10 gallon tub, to a 20 gallon half barrel, to my current one, a 100 gallon horse trough, aka the Hillbilly Goldfish Pond. I have learned that the more water, the better the pond works. The fish like it better, (although there is some…attrition). The plants like it better. This experience tells me that the little patio pond depicted probably wouldn’t work, but it is adorable. People like adorable.
It makes me think, though, about adding more “wetland” area to my pond. And with that, it makes me wonder about combining the idea of a self watering pot and my pond. A self watering pot is a porous pot  with a reservoir underneath that holds a constant source of water. Roots are always able to access the water they need, so they tend to grow better than they would in regular containers. Earthbox is one brand. They seem expensive and  ugly. (that’s one way you can tell I don’t make money from these links.   If they were affiliate links, I would say, “kind of expensive, and kind of ugly.”)

In a six foot long pond, what about putting in some cinderblocks, and some pots that would keep the roots wet, but the tops dry, so the plants don’t rot? Or islands, out of floating styrofoam, for lettuce and spinach? Or grow bags with squash, and the vines could drape over the sides of the trough? I would still want enough open space for fish, and I wonder if the goldfish would wind up eating the roots?
That’s what’s great about winter- I can imagine these ideas all day and night, waiting for the pond to thaw.

Spring Cleaning- the Hillbilly Goldfish Pond


Even pond scum looks pretty in the sunset.

I left the water lily in the pond (okay, it’s a horse trough) over the winter, and didn’t cover the tank up, so any and all leaves and detritus that got in, stayed in.

I skimmed the scum off the other day with a mesh thing that I got at the dollar store- I think it was originally intended to prevent grease from splatting all over the place when you fry stuff. It works great for skimming scum, though. Frugal, or cheap? Either way.
I pulled up the lily, and it had new growth. I pulled off some of the last leaves from last year and tossed the plant back in the tank. My pond book says to re-pot in a mesh basket in heavy clay with fine gravel on top, but I think I am going to be lazy. I’ll let you know how that turns out.

We wait for warmer weather before putting in goldfish- cheap feeder ones from the pet store. I mostly have them to eat mosquito larvae, and it isn’t hot enough for mosquitoes yet. In the past, I have brought goldfish inside for the winter, but we are starting over with young, cheap ones this year. Wow, I did say cheap twice to describe my choice of fish…I bought a $10 koi one time, when I first started with an outside pond. It died pretty quickly.

White emporor tulips on the west side of my 100 gallon horse trough

White emperor tulips on the west side of my 100 gallon horse trough.

Before the fish come home, I will scoop out most of the leaves and rotten gunk in the bottom of the pond and put it  in the compost. I am waiting for a warmer day- the water is still pretty cold. I think we’ll also do some science, and do an ammonia and pH test on the water. The boy recently learned about the pH scale, and spent a happy afternoon cleaning the copper bottoms of my pans with lemon juice, lime juice and vinegar.

Speaking of science, if you didn’t get a chance to see Nova’s recent episode about the periodic table, check it out Nova link There are explosions and everything!