Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

National Water Garden Group

March 30, 2009

We are just beginning to unveil some new ideas that wont be fully prepared until summer for Water-Garden-Blog.com   This week I will add the Facebook Water Garden Group and am preparing the Twitter, I dont intend on tweeting very often but will be doing so during some fun spring and summer events you may want to participate in!

The real “Fun” online applications will follow in May-July. For now since I never tell anyone on the phone or on the blog to feed the fish you can scroll down this page a little and feed our virtual fish on the right collumn. Just click around in the water and feed the goldfish, this is the only feeding that wont lead to more filtration devices and algae blooms. Enjoy!

water-garden-blog-follow

The SPRING Algae Bloom

March 26, 2009

feed3What causes algae blooms? Sometimes natural causes, runoff of nutrients from around the pond after a storm or rain. Most common culprit of Algae blooms is the pond owner him or her self.

Algae is the result of nutrients, sunlight, and water. As pond owners I never recommend algae products as it is a vicious cycle. A balanced ecosystem of plants and fish can lead to a simple pond to enjoy rather than fool with. The number 1 problem with water gardening is feeding the fish. Read on my friend…

feed2

Feeding fish before the water temperature is above 55 degrees is always a bad idea, in the winter fish go into a hibernation like stage. Their stomachs are inactive. Pellet or processed foods are dry and if fish eat them too early in the spring you can actually rupture a fish stomach as the food expands quickly inside the stomach and shortly after feeding your fish can go belly up.

Also before you plant plants in the spring you will foul the water by feeding the fish. Pond fish “NEVER” need to be fed. Yes every fish-food container will tell you to feed fish 2-3 times per day but take a second to figure out where they make there money. Fish can eat 10 times a day if you wish, they do this at fish farms. However this is normally too much waste for a pond and the extra waste produces a quick bloom of algae.

String Algae

String Algae

Fish including koi and goldfish naturally eat string algae and bug larvae and eggs keeping mosquitoes and nats to a minimum. Supplementing their natural diet not only stops that part of the natural ecosystem but adds to the nutrients for algae. Adding Submerged plants can highly reduce algae, hornwort, red star ludwigia, lemon bacopa, and anacharis all help starve algae and can even work in cooler water before floating plants like hyacinths and lettuce can takeover on the surface.

New Beginnings!

February 5, 2009

  The new plant species are coming together. Look for them soon. The new design of this blog is coming together and I hope will be up by the 20th of February.

I spent about 9 days to visit with my parents, sister-in-law,  niece and nephew and was  without the internet for the last  few days in January. Yesterday, I had a good hour and a half meeting with a friend who will be one of the ladies operating some of the phones in the office.  Beginning around Mid March, when taking orders becomes a day to day operation,  I  may begin posting emails from customers with my answers , as many questions and answers are common and we spend hundreds of hours each year answering them. Hopefully,  the posts will cut down on common questions.

We do have 4 phone lines, more to take orders than questions. The average order takes 15 minutes, that means some take 4 minutes, some take 35 based on questions.

We do have 4 phone lines, more to take orders than questions. The average order takes 15 minutes, that means some take 4 minutes, some take 35 based on questions.

We have four phone lines here in the office, and each spring,  when it gets really crazy and all the lines are busy we get voicemails asking us why we are not answering the phones.  We will be working as fast as we can to place orders and answer questions.  We look forward to hearing from you!

emailing us questions is so much easier for us to answer back and forth and you can include images as can we!

emailing us questions is so much easier for us to answer back and forth and you can include images as can we!

E-mailing us is often an easier way to get questions answered, many of you like attaching photos with your questions which gives you more of an opportunity to ask your entire question or all your questions and we can respond back and forth as long as it takes. For us it is easier to email back and forth when there are breaks in phone calls during the day and also early in the morning and in the evening as we are closing. I can guarantee you, we will spend more time corresponding with you with better information no matter if you are a retail customer, nursery vendor, or landscape contractor new to installing water gardens.

Bird Lovers can’t be Koi Lovers…I explain

January 16, 2009

This post will definitely go under “off topic” though it dose pertain to water gardens.  

Last thing you want to see in your pond!

Last thing you want to see in your pond!

      I would assume many gardeners are bird lovers and outdoor lovers  as well.  And if you are a brand new water gardener,  then you may not know that the arch nemesis of a water garden with goldfish or koi, throughout most of the USA, is the Heron. This is one birdyou never want to catch in your  fishpond, they have only come for one reason, your backyard buffet.

Small & very pretty green heron, Still gonna eat your fish!

Small & very pretty green heron, Still gonna eat your fish!

In much of the country people don’t even know herons are in their area, they seem like large birds you may only find in th southern swamps. They are usually a protected species, some a foot tall, some four feet tall with a six foot wingspan. Found commonly hanging out next to water gardens in the early morning around sunrise or wading in the shallow end of a pond, a heron can swallow a 24″ fish and take off quickly. They love backyard ponds, as they are small, shallow, and the fish are usually bright colors, could we make it any easier for these birds? I don’t think so. . .  .

The Scarecrow I talk about, cost about $65-$79 as of 2008

The Scarecrow I talk about, cost about $65-$79 as of 2008

Now winter is a very common time to find these birds in your yard. For fish to live, we generally keep a hole in the ice here in the north, with a pump or trough deicer.  These birds have less and less open water to hunt  and they easily see our water gardens open water reflect like a mirror in the sky. Lakes and streams with fish are iced over but we provide a tiny open space of open water, on top of that, the fish are bright orange and red or white or yellow. These birds will come back until the pond is empty, however we can keep them away pretty easy. A scarecrow, battery operated device is sold almost everywhere & works on all animals, it one in has a motion detector and shoots a stream of chilly water at animals that come by the pond. You can set one in the area in which it protects so that you can come up behind it without getting sprayed. Most people, myself included, forget about the device and normally walk right by it, and you  may get a little spray of water at your butt.   It protects the pond and after a few squirts the bird will stop coming around for good. 

Another option is a decoy heron, these birds are territorial, move the plastic decoy from one side of the pond to the other every 7 days as birds are smart and flyover birds will notice the decoy never moves, after a while. Make sure you have plenty of submerged plants, as fish can hide from the birds in submerged grasses like anacharis or hornwort.

Last of all, a small line of fishing line around the pond ,about 14 inches high, is invisible to the heron and they only way they can get to the pond is to walk in, when they reach your fishing line fence, they cannot move any closer to the pond and don’t know what is in the way, they will then fly off. The fishing line is not unattractive, is inexpensive and easy to put up .Once the heron is gone, you can take it down.

 E-mail me if you need help finding anything.

Winter: early, cold, and nationwide

December 26, 2008

Tomorrow will be the first warm day here in Ohio since October.  I get to write this post a second time because I somehow refreshed my page and erased thirty minutes worth of work.  I provided some winter and Christmas images, as it’s just too cold and snowy to  put up green images.

I will rewrite most of what I wanted to talk about today,  including how this winter and the current rocky econmic conditions will affect the home and garden industry as a whole, or at least my predictions for 2009. You may or may not care about this as it is not a common topic to discuss how enviromental and economic conditions affect plants.  However the economy will most certainly affect what you find IN garden centers each spring. 

 Last year I was asked how I thought the 2008 season would go as at the time we felt we were going into an economic downturn.

When you see economic reports in the news that the country is in a recession it is not necessarily true that everyone or every business is participating in a downturn. I am not forecasting that our sector of the water garden industry will suffer in 2009. In fact it is still quite possible the garden industry will do well in 2009. I see localized trouble for landscaping in some parts of the country but that is isolated. You can probably save on maintenance services should you be someone who hires someone to do your lawn or leaves. Take advantage of the situation. There will be more people willing to do yard work in 2009 due to both layoffs and a slightly tougher job market. A lawn business is something easy to start up that has immediate revenue and has a few costs or barriers to entry. Make sure who ever you hire is professional and that they know what they are doing. Most professional landscapers are still very bad water garden planners and installers. If I offended any landscapers feel free to e-mail me. Perhaps in the future I will put up a water gardening quiz. If your landscaper cannot answer the questions correctly than have them do everything but the water garden.

 I believe 2009 will be similar to the spring and summer of 2002 when fewer people spent money on trips or traveled.  Next year more people will stay at home and when this occurs they get creative. This is when we take time to redevelop our homes and yards. As we spend more time at home, we make our homes and gardens more inviting.  With winter having begun so early (November 1st here in Ohio), and now much of the south and west has had a few rounds of cold and snow and ice. By the time April gets here we will be tired of a cold brown landscape and we will be investing in our yards.

Blizzard conditions

Blizzard conditions

This does not mean we are all shelling out thousands of dollars but we will take out old overgrown shrubs we have been meaning to, dividing our hostas and replanting them. I think annuals will have huge growths in sales like petunias and inpatients (though there’s already bazillions of those). Our yards will be important. In the water garden industry I expect new water lily varieties to do well in sales like Leopardess (blue, mottles) water lily , Panama Pacific purple water lily, Miami Rose (reddish water lily), Pink Passion water Lily, and many more. Also new plants for sunny planters in most all of the country including papyrus which has been common in the southwest for some time and umbrella palms.

blizzard snow

blizzard snow

Last week we had ice storms in the north east, this week in Chicago and Indiana. Snow twice in two weeks in Seattle which is uncommon, and more uncommon they now refuse to salt the roads in the city (for a good laugh look up the news stories about police officers responding on foot in Seattle because the city refuses to salt the streets because the salt may go into Puget sound, a body of salt water?).  New Orleans and Beaumont TX had snow last week as did Las Vegas in the city. Florida has remained same so far but winter just arrived officially 5 days ago. Having lived here in Ohio for 8 or 9 years it wouldn’t surprise me if most of January and February are in the 50s but there is no sigh of that just yet. Tomorrow I will return to plants as I am anxious to begin discussing water lilies and what will be available this spring. We hope to be able to provide you with many new species and they are fantastic. I am having fun reading other blogs, mostly landscape like the whispering crane or searching the holiday making of people around the country.

Moneywort (Bacopa monnieri) New 2009

December 16, 2008

Though new for the company I work for, I have been familiar with moneywort for some time. It is easy to grow and can be planted as an oxygenator under the water or a flowering bog plant.  This plant can actually be grown as an herb apparently benefiting the brain. I am not growing it for that purpose so that’s as deep as I will go into that use. As a submerged pond plant it is very easy to grow and enjoys light.  This plant will probably rot and die in shady ponds.

Bacopa monnieri, white flowers surround the base of other bog plants at the surface like umbrella palms or thalia delbata

Bacopa monnieri, white flowers surround the base of other bog plants at the surface like umbrella palms or thalia delbata Moneywort submerged growing toward the surface.

It has small white flowers above the surface and grows nicely along the base of other bog plants covering containers! Neat trick.

NEW! Lemon Bacopa (Bacopa Caroliniana)

December 16, 2008

New for 2009, Lemon Bacopa, named for its lemon scent,  is a very interesting pond plant. This plant comes bunched like anacharis but grows up to the surface of the water and then slightly above. Not only that but once above the surface it begins to bloom with tiny 1/2 inch wondrous blue flowers. This plant can also be planted as a bog plant and will love the soil and bloom more often. A great oxygenator I hope we can keep this  in stock for 2009.

Lemon Bacopa, wonderful oxygenator that blooms once it gets to the waters surface.

Lemon Bacopa, wonderful oxygenator that blooms once it gets to the waters surface.

Provides great hiding spot for fish when predators come around.  Highly reccomended.  Native to zone 8-10.  Other than submerged, great ground cover that is easy to grow in a diverse range of locations including bogs, streams, waterfalls, pond edges and container gardens; foliage lemon-scented.

submerged in an aquarium, this is how each bunch will look at the bottom of the pond.

submerged in an aquarium, this is how each bunch will look at the bottom of the pond.

Seasonal Care:
Cut tips down to 3 in. and float in a cup of water in a warm, sunny location indoors

Cabomba, perhaps my least favorite submerged pond plant!

December 16, 2008
Though when growing in aquariums some of the Cabomba species may be the prettiest and softest and most gentle plants they are also by far the worst to add to any water garden with fish.
cabomba caroliniana

cabomba caroliniana

Cabomba furcata and Cabomba caroliniana are the two most common types I have found sold in the water garden industry. The plant for all intents and  purposes belongs strickly  in the aquarium plant industry. Why? Well it is very soft and both the stems and the foliage break easily. I do not find that these plants overwinter at all or they never seem to be around in the spring. Normally harvested and bunched in Florida shipped once is OK, if we ship it to another supplier and then they ship it to you, the plants arrive unhealthy and falling apart. Anacharis and hornwort can be damaged slightly in shipping and come back in a matter of days with new growth. Cabomba simply disintegrates. On top of that problem, they are so soft they make excellent meals for fish. One final problem, sold as a bunched plant, the rubber bands often destroy the bottom stems and the plant then float about the pond.

cabomba furcata

cabomba furcata

If you ever grow baby fish inside, this is a wonderful plant to add to an aquarium to serve as hiding space and food for fish fry.

Hornwort, (Ceratophyllum demersum) a close second best oxygenator of the submerged pond plants and a little about fish breeding.

December 15, 2008
Friendly goldfish in a holding tank, photo op

Friendly goldfish in a holding tank, photo op

Hornwort is an excellent oxygenating plants and actually has a slight advantage on anacharis when it comes to fish. The hornwort foliage is like a very soft evergreen in the water. If you have trouble with the large koi (usually well over a foot long) eating anacharis or other plants than hornwort may be your best choice. It is also winter tolerant and comes bunched in about the same handfull quantity as the anacharis. The price in the past few years has increased somewhat but is normally ten to twenty five cents more expensive than anacharis.

Hornwort pictured with sinking weight

Hornwort pictured with sinking weight

The hornwort can be added to the pond with the same calculations as other water garden oxygentors like anacharis. 1 bunch per 10 gallons of water will keep your pond free and clear of algae in a  balanced eco system pond. I am going to begin talking about a neutral pond in more upcoming posts. By neutral pond I mean a water garden with proper feeding of fish. Excess fish food and waste will lead to water issues and costly upkeep and unnessesary maintenence. A neutral pond has a balance of fish and plants and is basically an enviroment that will keep itself fed and clean.

 

Hornwort is excellent for fish spawning. Goldfish and koi eggs are sticky and will instantly attach themselves to this plant (though this is true with anything in the pond). On sunny morning in spring, right at sunrise you can sometimes catch fish darting around the pond at incredible speeds, usually one followed by one or more. These are the boys chasing the girl. She will dart around plants or rocks very quickly they will follow her running into her bdomen (not painfully – just tapping) and she will begin releasing the unfertilized eggs. As they follow, the boys will fertilize them. Goldfish eggs are not likely to be noticeable, large koi eggs from adults over 18 inches may be slightly noticeable.   Goldfish will end up looking just like their parents, orange, orange and white, or red and white depending upon the parents. Same for shubunkins the calico colored goldfish. They will be born brown and not get their color until they are big enough to not be eaten, then you will see the change between 1/2 inch long and about 4 inches long. Koi on the otherhand will be born brown and then most likely not be very pretty. In order to get good looking koi parents at fish hatcheries should be exclusively picked. An all yellow koi has 2 yellow parents. If you have one yellow koi and a black and orange koi, the babies will mostly be fairly brown with a little yellow or little orange. Yellow is not a dominant color gene. Koi are culled many times after breeding. This is a sad practice of throwing out the mostly ugly fish and keeping the fewer pretty ones. That is why goldfish are cheap and koi are expensive. Lets say you get 20,000 goldfish per breed and 20,000 koi. They will sell all 20,000 goldfish but they will cull the koi and keep maybe only 10-500 to sell depending upon the grade of koi. More about that on another post I want to keep to the plants.

The hornwort can be planted in gravel baskets at any level of the pond but we suggest the submersible plant weights used like on the anacharis. I failed to mention in the post about anacharis that lead weight are cut to a certain size to hold down a plant. I remember many people that used to buy 100 submerged bunches and 50 weights to save money (like $4 difference). One weight will not hold down two plants. Just a note for all you ordering the extra 50 weights and paying $9 shipping.

Hornwort close up pictured in fish aquarium

Hornwort close up pictured in fish aquarium

One other thing I should mention in the Anacharis post, I may got back and add this detail. If you introduce your anacharis or other submerged plant on a sunny daythey can get sunburned quickly if you leave them out of the pond or let them float foronly a short time. If you cannot get them to the bottom of the pond in a short amount of time do not panic. Lay them on the surface of the pond and cover them with some damp flat newspaper or shade cloth (most people will just have the paper available.     

Remember these submered plants in proper number keep water free and clear of all algae both string and filement algae (causing green water). Do not over feed fish, 1-2 times per week if at all and walla you have clean water. Remember also a pump for areation creates more oxygen for the pond in an hour than

Introducing the Water Garden Blog

December 7, 2008

Welcome to the Water Garden Blog, my name is Zac deGarmeaux and I have been a water gardener since I believe the summer of 1991. Only a youngster with a love for gardening and fascination with water and fish I bought my first water lily as a tuber from a pet store.

With a few goldfish and a poorly built pond of probably only 100 gallons at the time I embarked on my first water gardening experience. My mother and I built the pond in a single day while my father was at work as he would not have permitted this idea.

At the time we did not know much, the rocks were scraped together from various places and I think we used a grey tarp as a liner because there was no place to buy liner in our are in 1991. Upon returning home my father was introduced to our quick one day project and was not extraordinarily happy but was not upset either. Soon after the original pond (truly it was not what I would call a water garden as there needs to be plants in a garden, we had 1 water lily from a fish tank and I don’t think it was properly planted) was completed my dad asked me if I wanted to make it look a little better, I could read up on the subject and he and I would take his truck to a local creek for better rocks (northern panhandle of West Virginia has wonderful creek rock) and then we would “redo” the pond a little better.

I was ecstatic, I would much rather have something amazing, like with a waterfall than the little pond we scurried together over a few hours. I raced to the library and got every book they had, which wasn’t much. I think I watched a video or saw a program on TV. I had the opportunity to build the ultimate pond, just like the incredible ones in the photos of the books and on TV, this time with plants and a waterfall. I began ordering all the free catalogs, and sometimes paid catalogs from the back of books and magazines. Lilypons, Perry Slocum, and Van Ness Water Gardens, and fish hatcheries like Zetts in Pennsylvania. At the time catalog ordering was the only place to find these items. The following spring I had everything planned out for the ultimate pond, there was no way Id get the chance again I thought so its gotta be great. I had laid out plans for a two tier pond with a waterfall into the first pond and creek/stream between the two. The top pond was all shallow probably eight inches deep and the bottom pond was probably 400 gallons about 20 inches deep at the deepest part. My dad’s friend Bo Tribbet and his family had a pond before I and I think that is what started my fascination. The fish and plants, he had great koi and water lilies and provided me with some.

The second building of the now two tier pond was a thousand times better though not great at all by today’s standards (it is my experience about 90% of water garden growers go through is process of bigger & better ponds at a minimum of 3 times before they are happy or use up all available room in the area of the pond.

On to year three, I was again unhappy and new this could be better, neighbors were very interested in the second pond and my dad having been a big part of the restructure did not mind me working on the pond the following spring as he enjoyed the daily interest of people asking 100 questions. I raised the original bed of the top pond, enlarged it, completely landscaped it and it became a great upper pond falling now about 24inches down a waterfall into pond 2. I now found local (if you can call neighboring states local) water garden outlets. Trickers in Independence Ohio and Lily Blooms a little closer to home but still a trip. I went and visited the sites once or twice a year picking out many new species of pond plants and having fun with the Annuals. I will never forget my first Tropical water lilies, the Leopardess or first night bloomer the Antares. So many people all these years later have still not ventured into annual water lilies. For $25-$30 it is no more than a great hanging basket or two flats of flowers. The blooms are 100 times as amazing as the perinnial water lilies and you should have one or more of these lilies in your pond each spring.

Over the next few year neighbors began asking me to install water gardens in their yards. This mean more trips to Ohio and plenty of people to talk about my new hobby.

Before I left home for college I added a third pond to my parents home and spent the last few years basically running a water garden department of a local pet store and water gardening had really taken off.

In college about two hours away in Ohio I got a summer job at Lily Blooms, the water garden store and spent the rest of my spare time installing ponds and fixing leaks or completely redoing ponds for people in Canton Ohio and surrounding areas.

After graduating from College I began managing Pond Megastore, a national distributor of water garden plants, water lilies, pond fish and supplies. They began a website in 2005 and have broadened a market of selling a huge class of pond plants, pond snails, and hybrid newly developed water lilies from Florida to Virginia, and through Ohio. Water lilies can now be sent to any home in America. This conglomeration of six water garden facilities joined together to distribute the largest selection of quality grown pond plants in the world.

     I stopped installing water gardens completely and we focused on working with the growers and developers of aquatic plant species. As I work with customers today I find it still upsetting that so much knowledge about the “garden” aspect is lost. Many landscapers seemingly know nothing about water gardens. They install quick ponds with large sandstone (warning cheap and will eventually crush like sand in cold climates) and big pumps that make a short term impressive waterfall but lack any instruction of water plants or water lilies. They even tell customers plants cause algae when the exact opposite is true.

Landscapers also tell people not to plant aquatic species in soil. This too is untrue and we can dive deeper in future posts. I hope to get into some deep discussions on the water gardening subjects and introduce some in depth analysis into some amazing plants you may only see in botanical gardens but I will be more than glad to show you these can easily be grown in your backyard.