The pond bin

The pond bin

What a lovely day it has been today. Sunny until this afternoon when it started to get cloudy but the clouds were a relief because it got hot! It is currently 80F (26.7C) outside with the clouds. Some of you might think that is a perfect temperature and it would be pleasant if I were sitting in the shade with a cold drink in my hand but out in the sun working, I probably sweated off five pounds today. But Bookman and I have been having lots of fun and drinking lots of water.

Today is the day we built our pond! Two years ago when I proposed a pond to Bookman he said absolutely not. So last summer I got myself a little ceramic bird bath that had a solar frog fountain. It was great and I loved it as did the

Digging the pond

Digging the pond

birds and bees. But it was no pond. I would like to try and attract a toad to the garden and a bird bath fountain is not going to do that, we needed a pond. And when I found a great video on YouTube that showed how to make a small pond from a storage bin, so easy I could do it myself without Bookman’s help, I told Bookman he had been overruled on not having a pond. He grumbled a bit and I think he thought I’d just give up on it but I’d mention it now and to let him know I wasn’t going to forget.

When I reminded Bookman a few weeks ago that I was going to put in a pond and would be soon going to in search of a bin to make it out of, he asked to see the video so I showed it to him. He was surprised at how easy it was but was still skeptical, worried about mosquitoes. I can’t say I blame him, he is very allergic to mosquito bites, each one becoming a walnut-sized itching welt. I did research on how to make sure the pond does not become a mosquito breeding ground and Bookman was satisfied enough that he decided that it was worth giving it a try.

Pond  ready to fill

Pond ready to fill

Off we went this morning to the home improvement store. We debated over storage containers – how big, deep and short or shallow and long — disagreed over gravel and rocks — pea gravel like in an aquarium or bigger river rocks. We also bought some sand for the bottom of the pond hole and some silicone and while we were at it several solar path lights. The container we got is clear 20 gallons (75.7 liters). We had to get the clear silicone to fill two small holes at the top of the bin where a lid would lock. Holes filled and silicone drying, we walked around the garden debating where to put the pond. Once we chose the area we then quibbled over how to position it. That was the hardest part! We had a blank canvas and had to imagine ourselves into the future, plants growing nearby and Bea the honeycrisp grown up bigger.

Next it was time to get down to business. Bookman raked away wood chips, marked where the pond edges were going to be and started digging. We’ve known for years and years we have sandy soil but when we don’t dig down more than a few inches to plant something we don’t really think too much about it. Digging for the pond, after the first 8 or 9 inches (20 – 23 cm) of topsoil, it was all sand. The sand is so very fine that we didn’t even need to open the bag of sand we had bought. And now we have a full bag of sand and a small pile of sand from the pond hole and no place to put it. We’ll figure something out eventually.

Hole dug, sand in the bottom of the hole, sides backfilled in around the bin, we put river rocks in the bottom then used

Amy Pond

Amy Pond

an old broken cinder block to create a ledge, placed a long flat rock as a sort of ramp, added a few more river rocks on the ledge, edged the pond with broken pieces of concrete and put a pot with watercress seeds in it on the ledge. We filled the pond with water from our rain barrel. The pond turned out to be not quite level, but you can’t tell unless you really look.

During the pond building process Bookman actually said he was having fun. I didn’t believe him at first and asked if he was being sarcastic. No, he said, he really was having fun. And later he even said he was happy we have a pond and joked that he was glad he had thought of it! Nonetheless, I am the one who will be cleaning it and taking care of it. I said I needed to get a net and he said no, he thought I’d get a wetsuit and dive in. I suspect he’d prefer a bikini and a snorkel though if I gave him the option. Thankfully, neither wetsuit nor bikini will be needed to take care of the pond.

Release the krakens! Er, goldfish

Release the krakens! Er, goldfish

Bookman decided the pond needed a name, looked at me and said, you know what it is don’t you? Um, Walden Pond? I asked. Nope. Um, Golden Pond? Nope. He starts grinning and says, the Doctor knows. Amy Pond! I said and we both laughed, so very pleased with ourselves.

Well, Amy Pond needs some fish to eat mosquito eggs so off we went to a nearby tropical fish store. We got goldfish flakes for supplemental feeding, some water treatment stuff to remove chlorine in case we ever have to use tap water in the pond instead of rain barrel water, a net, and three feeder goldfish. Only the guy accidentally caught four so we got a bonus one for free. While the fish were floating in the pond, still in their plastic bag so they could acclimate to the water temperature, Bookman and I made a little toad house near the pond from a terra cotta pot. And we planted bachelor

Toad house, move-in ready!

Toad house, move-in ready!

button seeds in an area around Amy Pond. Next year at the plant sale we’ll get some perennial plants to fill in the area.

We are pleased with Amy Pond. It really was easy to do. Now we’ll see if a toad decides to take up residence and if we’ve managed to create a place for the fish to hide should a raccoon decide to try and have a snack.

In other garden doings, I found the zucchini seeds! They had gotten shoved to the back of a drawer along with the missing purple cabbage seeds. I planted a few zucchini seeds in the spot we left for them in the veggie bed. I filled a couple of pots with seed starter soil for the cabbage and planted those in the pots. They will eventually be transplanted to the polyculture bed.

Polyculture bed

Polyculture bed

Speaking of the polyculture bed, I took the row cover fabric off of it. I am equal parts pleased and disappointed. The plants were supposed to be more densely packed in than they are, which means we did not plant enough. Also, there were lots of weeds growing in the bed, unexpected since the soil was from bags. So I weeded the bed and thinned a couple of radishes that were squeezed too closely together. What has come up, I am very happy with. Now the fabric is off the bed I hope rabbits don’t decide to come and enjoy the salad bar.

Next week I will have to take the fabric off the corn bed. I have little corn stalks about 2 inches (5cm) high! When the fabric comes off I will be planting pole beans to climb up the corn and pie pumpkin seeds. This combination is called the “three sisters” and is a traditional Native American way of growing these three foods. The corn provides a trellis for

Dwarf yellow iris

Dwarf yellow iris

the beans to climb, the beans feed the corn by fixing nitrogen in the soil, and the pumpkins with their big leaves shade the soil and provide a sort of living mulch. Pretty nifty, eh?

In the category of “not dead yet” is the virgin’s bower climber I planted in the small, narrow garden next to the house last year. It is a native clematis and I had visions of it happily climbing all over the bamboo fencing. Nothing had sprouted on it and so I thought the winter had killed it since it was new just last summer and so small. But just the other day I noticed a few leaves. And now there are quite a few more! And the peppermint I planted near it that I thought

Wood poppy, violets & dandelions

Wood poppy, violets & dandelions

was dead too, nope. It’s actually springing up in a number of places. I am relieved by that because peppermint is supposed to be indestructible and if I had managed to actually kill it, what a blow to my gardening ego! I had also resigned myself to the sunchoke not coming back and was trying to think of all sorts of excuses since that, too, is supposed to be a big spreader and easy to grow. I was pleased to discover some small leaves unfurling through the mulch this morning. All this makes me wonder if the alpine clematis we pulled out thinking it was dead maybe wasn’t dead after all, just later than usual in getting started. Too late to second guess that one though! Besides, its removal made room for one of the winterberries Bookman wanted so much.

Dinner this evening is going to be a tasty salad. The lettuce in the garden isn’t big enough to pick yet so that came from the store, but we have picked French sorrel, dandelion greens and a few dandelion flowers to add flavor and color. If all goes well, in a week or two the salad will be coming from my garden, fresh picked. I can hardly wait!

And here is the pond video that inspired building Amy Pond:

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