Gardens, Pests, Poisons, Friends....

This is my first year with a koi pond, full-scale veggie garden, and lots of shrub/flower beds to put in. It's been a real learning experience, all around. First pest to show up was a colony of chipmunks...there were stalks of indian corn left in the garden over winter from previous owner. Knew I should have gotten rid of them, but it was a busy winter. Chipmunks ALL OVER the place when it was about time to plant veggies, so went shopping for rat traps. Peanut butter and seeds on the traps; no dice. Went shopping for poison corn, a serious weapon, judging from label instructions. Held off on that, ready to kill varmints if they touched my new plants. Chipmunks were all over the place, including taking drinks at the pond, but no sign of harm to plants. Stray cat shows up now and then, especially in neighbor's yard where a bunch of rabbits live under the pine trees. About this time, the c'munks seem to head for farm country. Other than moving a few of my flower seeds and small bulbs, they didn't seem to bother anything, other than plant some sorghum next to the back door. I really didn't want to poison them, mainly because some good creature might dine on their poisoned corpses.
So, I'm well into planting flower beds, digging up a lot of sod. One goal is to reduce the amount of grass to mow, and of course to have pretty stuff to look at. Now, I have gotten a lot done, tilling pretty large beds, when the damn moles move in. Tunnels ALL OVER my flower beds and two or three plants killed because their roots are hanging in a mole tunnel. Out to the farm store for a mole trap, a truly serious looking device that might behead a racoon if it ran into the trap. A week or two in place, and no sign of moles....apparently they were exploring and didn't bother going into the lawn because the sod was too tough.
When cabbage worms showed up in the garden, doing some serious damage to brocolli and bruss. sprouts, I spent time picking worms by hand. Next day, just as many worms as before. Nothing blooming, so I dusted with poison on those plants. Gone.
Some good rains, just enough sun, and stuff is really growing. Over the past 20 or so years, I have rarely seen honey bees. Echinaccea have some bug problems, eating some leaves. Now, my echinaccea and squash blossoms are full of bees; seem to be the only plants honey bees are interested in, so no poison there. I'd rather have a few chewed up leaves than to kill honey bees.
My morning routine starts with coffee by the koi pond, whilst I feed the critters and enjoy the sunrise. Got a new tenant in the pond about a month ago....bullfrog, body about 6" long. The koi have spawned but didn't see any signs of fry until I cleaned the filter pit couple of weeks ago and found four babies. Built a cage for them to protect them from larger critters, but I kind of hurried on that at they escaped into the pond. I figured the bullfrog would get them, but I haven't seen him preying on anything. He either hangs at the surface of the pond, watching me while I watch him, or he perks on the stones in the pot of cat tails. If he leaves the pond, he jumps onto the rocky edge and then into the hedges near the pond. If he ate koi eggs or fry, he left enough for a 3rd generation of fish. I assume he finds some yummy bugs under the shrubs.
Sunday, son and grandsons came over to pull some weeds and pick beans. The live nearby, and can bike or walk a nature trail from their house to ours. There is almost always free food to be had when they come over, but it is always a better deal for us :o) Son is good at spotting work opportunities and is good at whatever he fixes. He decided to clean out the basement window wells; just a few leaves. And 8 frogs. Window well is about 4-5' deep, so we rescued the frogs and let them go in the pond. Finished up with a meal of sausage and newly harvested potatoes and beans. Yum.
Took the camera out to the pond this morning, trying to get some good pix of Mr. Frog and the fish. Finished with Mr. Frog and put the lens cap back on the camera. Just settin' there when a BIG bird landed on the garden fence; darn, that's a red tailed hawk! Just as it registered in my brain, he flew over the pond at about 3' and about that far in front of my face! He landed on the fence for a sec, and then took off. Looking for fish? Chipmunks? If a fish goes missing, I'll blame the hawk. He might be around a while if nobody feeds him poisoned chipmunks. Haven't had a heron land yet, but I wouldn't mind too much if it didn't take my prettiest koi. Gold finches have shown interest in the pond lately; when I finish remodeling the ugly pile of rocks that serves as a waterfall and pond aerator, there will be a pool for the birdies to bathe and drink. Haven't had any deer jump the fence, but I think they fill up on hosta plants at my son's house. Deer highway goes between his yard and the neighbor's. Just planted a white and red rose of sharon for the hummers. Don't know what will eat my grapes, but hope they save some for us.
My cucumbers are taking over the planet. Got enough tomatoes about to ripen to make a mess of spaghetti sauce and share with fam. and neighbors. Nice little watermelon about ready. Canteloupe, squash, eggplant, brussel sprouts looking good. Now, if I encourage hubby to eat more veggies, I'll have it made in the shade :o)
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
<very interesting story snipped reminding me of an article I read long ago about what were then "newfangled" community gardens. You summed up the gardening experience nicely but you were spared the great ravagement of critters consuming your entire operation. In your case, the chipmunks just "self-deported" (I'm sorry, I couldn't resist!).
At a garden near the NYC zoo something(s) unknown completely destroyed every single plant in a huge community garden. It was the typical "one bite per every plant" instead of chowing down on just a few plants completely.
Back in those days, no one used CCTV cameras. Now, the whole event would be on YouTube. After that savage attack - and it really looked like vandalism but it was clear it was animals, maybe many, maybe not. The clues were all over the map.
Some people thought once the fence surrounding the garden was breached, the dozens of animals who were tempted nightly by the smells finally gained entry. The bottom line is that some of the "love the earth" greenest hippie Gaia folks you can imagine went Rambo, determined to kill every last critter in a mile radius. What's that old joke: "A Democrat is a really a Republican that hasn't been mugged yet?" Personal experience can really alter one's outlook on life.

A new study was released about fungicides found in bees.
http://www.umdrightnow.umd.edu/news/study-shows-common-chemicals-harm-honey-bees-health
<<On average, the pollen samples contained 9 different agricultural chemicals, including fungicides, insecticides, herbicides and miticides. Sublethal levels of multiple agricultural chemicals were present in every sample, with one sample containing 21 different pesticides. Pesticides found most frequently in the bees' pollen were the fungicide chlorothalonil, used on apples and other crops, and the insecticide fluvalinate, used by beekeepers to control Varroa mites, common honey bee pests.
In the study's most surprising result, bees that were fed the collected pollen samples containing chlorothonatil were nearly three times more likely to be infected by Nosema than bees that were not exposed to these chemicals>> It might be time for us to accept more spotted fruit and use fewer pesticides because everything I've read about Colony Collapse Disorder describes a world that would be missing a lot of my favorite foods if honeybees went kaput. That reminds me, has anyone seen Han lately? He knew all about this stuff.

Those would be the "koi polloi." (-:
I'm jealous. I grew up in the heart of the city and I loved it when we went to visit family friends in New Jersey because they had this huge estate (must be worth $5M today!) with a running brook at the back of the property. It's a little sad how impressed I was by a clean, free-running stream with frogs, dragonflies and a whole little self-contained world. I think a koi pond would be a pretty good substitute. How much did you spend to create yours? How much effort does it take to maintain? It might not be feasible to build a pond in the DC area because of winter freezes. )-:

There's a great "zen" to maintaining something like a koi pond or even simply sitting by edge of a brook. It helped me to realize how profoundly interconnected all of nature is at heart. Then I spent a summer in a friend's cabin right on a river that was at least 50' and 6' deep and had been tame for the 10 years the cabin had been there. God was it great to lie in a hammock and hear the river gently flowing by. It was not navigable, per se, which meant no rafts full of drunks floating by every 10 minutes. Perfection.
Then came the one-two punch of hurricanes Frances and Ivan - I was going to say a few years ago but it was actually 2004, almost a decade ago - my how time flies! The damage didn't really come from flood water but from all the debris of the houses upstream. My friend's cabin was situated on a river bend that meant almost all the floating crap went by him. Almost all. His neighbor on the other hand collected what seemed to be three junkyards full of splintered houses, boats, picnic tables, coolers, doghouses and some other pretty weird stuff just because of the river flow dynamics. I learned about Mother Nature that day, too. (-:
--
Bobby G.



Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 8/6/2013 2:34 AM, Robert Green wrote:

There are corn fields very near, so I suspect they went to greener fields; hope so.

Hard to do for any garden pests I know.....more likely some fool obsessed with weed eradication or over fertilizing during hot weather.

I know racoons can clean a cherry tree in one night, but in the city they likely prefer trash cans.

I am probably on the left side of the center line and have been mugged only by pretty radical Repugnicans (family then, one a retired cop known for his violent treatment of folks who dial 911 when someone stole a bag of potato chips and reported a "robbery").
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 8/6/2013 2:34 AM, Robert Green wrote:

Out of curiosity, with no intention to cook any koi, I Googled "koi recipes"..........koi tacos, anyone? YUCK!

The pond was installed two owners ago, and really didn't factor into our purchase, other than "that's nice"....the house, lot and neighborhood are ideal for us. We moved in in November, so this is my first year with a pond/koi. When I search online for info, I fine one item of firm advice in conflict with the next item. The stars of the koi world spend hundreds on fish and know their breeds; mine are generic, mostly big orange fish with black spots....two of 9 have the big, wavy butterfly fins and different coloring. No idea what the babies will be like. People with expensive fish spend (or build) elaborate filters with UV lights to kill algae, all kinds of chemicals to de-chlorinate, clean, clarify water. My breakthrough came when I put in some plants....two water lilies, cat tails, reeds, and some floating water lettuce. Then I put wire screen over the pump pit to keep out leaves and big junk. Then, while browsing hardware dept for cheaper filter material, I saw thin foam sheets of window-AC filter material. $4 for two sheets. Filters out the finest stuff (especially after the darlings spawn) and keeps the water clear as drinking water.
I wasn't going to spend $15 on water testing strips, but with a lot of big fish for the size of the pond and after reading all the hazards of fish waste turning into nitrites and nitrates, curiosity got the best of me.....water tested "zero" for both. pH fairly high, but we live and draw water from a big chunk of limestone called "Indiana".
You can spend a bloody fortune on koi and ponds.....basic filter, 12" square plastic holds two sheets of filter material which is pretty much a coarse plastic fibre like insulation. One is thinner and "charcoal embedded", one plain white plastic stuff. $13 sq/ft at local pet emporium. The immersible pump (500 GPH, $100) and filter sit in a tub in the ground at foot of pond. Have to unplug pump, drag out and disconnect water line to clean the filter. Allegedly, you don't want it "too clean" or it won't grow "beneficial bacteria" (type unknown, hoping they aren't flesh-eating types) that help break down algae. Well, my algae doesn't know it is supposed to break down or stop at the filter, so it keeps on circulating and lining the pond with a pretty green velvety layer. The pond is concrete, shaped like a fat rowboat with rocks mortared on the perimeter; waterfall is an ugly pile of rocks/boulders about 5' high. It had four slaps of flagstone for the falls with stones caulked on in a straight line to control the water flow...UGLY! I've started tearing into the rock pile to change the layout....want it lower, with water pooling at the highest point, the dropping into a rocky stream and the falling into the pond. More movement of the water at surface means more oxygen. Don't want to use a bubble for oxygen, and if the fish can't hack it in my pond, they can leave :o)
Experts say ponds should be 5' deep so's they don't freeze solid in winter. Mine is about 20". If Indiana winters go back to twenty-below, we have a problem. Until then, a small, cheap heater keeps an opening in the ice (heater floats if not iced over). Fish quit eating when the water temp drops to about fifty degrees, so there is no care (in my pond) to be done over winter. I can get most of the algae off the bottom with shop vac, which isn't a lot of fun but it gets the job done. I tried draining the pond almost completely a couple of times, but it didn't slow down the algae.
Most popular pond installs use heavy black plastic for the liner...dig hole, shape bottom and leave "shelves" for plant pots, line with sand, throw in liner, throw in pretty rocks, plumb and electrify. There is substantial argument about using plastic liners because critters can dig, peck or chew through them. I would not want to have to find and repair a leak in the dang things and they start at a couple of hundred dollars.
Being obsessive about keeping algae/nitrogen out of water, I read more about how it is produced and how it breaks down....always found articles about how beneficial water plants are in using up the nitrogen, then there was always an ad for fertilizer for water plants. WTF?
City kid here, too. Always have loved frogs and toads. Birds come around a lot, especially if there is a puddle to bathe in. Got a couple of gold finches showing interest. Enough plants around to look good but not overgrown...shelter for the frogs but enough room to work.

Sailed in some fairly rugged weather, which was awesome. What I refused to do was sail on weekends and holidays, when all the drunks and idiots are out roaring around.
I bought tickets to a "swamp walk" at Clyde Butcher's studio in Florida...an "extra" if you go to check out his work :o)...but my hubby chickened out so we didn't go. Guess guys are worried a gator will get their precious parts :o)
http://www.clydebutcher.com/

clothing, parts of roofs, lawn furniture, while shelling. Used to take two bags, one for shells and one to pick up trash on the way back. I always wanted to find a place in Florida with no signs that humans had been there, but failed. Kayaking FL rivers is awesome!
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

What you need is whatever chow they eat soaked in anti freeze (Automobile radiator)
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
We are one of the leading Importers in India of Rattan, patio and Wicker furniture of indoor and outdoor.
Manufactures and exporter of Wrought iron, cast iron and wooden garden furniture, Lamp post. We are one of the leading Importers in India of Rattan, patio and Wicker furniture of indoor and outdoor.
For more information visit on ->: http://www.lohiaoutdoor.com/
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.