Ponds and Garden News for Febuary:

Ponds Notes , Winter Clean up, Raised Gardens POND NOTES: With all the rain we have gotten the past 2 months have you checked to see if the pond is overflowing at the place you want it to? It is a good time to check this out. You may want to make a “before next winter” modification of installing a dry well of crushed rock or round river rock as a catch area right by the spots were your pond overflows. I urge all of our pond owners to have this incorporated in their landscape. The dry well helps control the excess water off your pond and it also catches any fish or plants that might escape over the edge. SPRING ALERT!!!! DO NOT GET IN A HURRY TO FEED! Freezing weather is here, water temperatures are fluctuating rapidly and your pond fish are slowing down, and speeding up. If you feed with commercial food prior to April in the Pacific North West, you may loose fish, to stress. Fish need less food in the winter than in the summer. If you have been feeding your Koi , Goldfish and Shubunkins, (carp species) , Cheerio’s use only a small amount and not more then once or twice a week. Duckweed and/or spinach is real important in the Carps diet, it contains the vitamins and fiber the fish need. Cooler weather feed soft leaf vegetables, rather than commercial fish food. If you are feeding this time of year, watch your water temperature closely. Feed [ about once a week ] during the warmest time of the day.

LATE FALL AND WINTER FEEDING: Most of us have been feeding our Koi the Wheat germ based foods as the fall temperatures started to drop. Although the box says you can feed this food down to 45 degrees F., the Breeders from Japan ask us to stop at 50 degrees any commercial pellet food. The Koi club members of the Pacific Northwest have found that stopping at 54 degrees with the pellets and feeding with Cheerio’s down to 48 degrees works best at getting the through our fluctuating winter temperatures.

BULK FOOD STORAGE OVER WINTER: At this time I am recommending you repackage your bulk food in storage containers. The Wheat germ products (regardless of brand) should not be stored after being opened for more than 3 months. This is because of the vegetable oils that deteriorate quickly. If you have open, leftover fish food from last year that you did not freeze, throw it away! Fish food is not like Twinkies that stay fresh for years. Old stale fish food is harmful to stressed Koi and Goldfish. Humans like a “Fresh cup of Coffee” first thing after waking up,,, Fish like “Fresh Food” to wake up to also!

POND WINTERIZING: Salt: Non-iodized salt 4 pounds per 1000 gal of pond water. Add to your pond in solution not dry!!! Sea salt is best.( Market Place Health food store in Aberdeen has bulk Sea Salt in stock) Water softening salt is good. Rock salt will work. [Never, Never, NEVER,,, use Iodized salt!] Water softening salt should cost less then $7 per 50 lbs bag. Sea Salt should cost less then $10 per 50 lbs bag. I have seen both for a few dollars less each. (“artificial Ocean” salt can cost $45 for 30 lbs or more)

The math: ( Length of your pond) X (Width of your pond) X (Depth of your pond) X 7.5 = Gallons L*W*D*7.5 If your pond is oval and has shelves: (L) x (W) x (D) x 6.5 = Gallons (shape approximation) Then divide the number of Gallons of your pond by 1000 (Gallons/1000) And multiply that number by 4 (lbs of salt) Example: my pond at the nursery is 12 by 6 by 18 inches(1.25') 12*6*1.25*7.5=675 Gallons 675/1000 * 4 = 2.7 lbs of salt. (2 3/4lbs)

My little plastic pond is 6 x 3 x 18 inches and has shelves and is oval 6*3*1.25*6.5=146.25 gal (150 gal by Manufactures label) 146/1000 *4 = .58 lbs of salt ( 1/2 lb)

The monster pond of Doc’s is 35’x35’x9’ oval 35*35*9*6.5=61,740 gal 61740/1000 * 4 =247lbs of salt (5)50lb sacks!!! Doc will need 5 sacks of salt now and 1 sack per month for Dec and Jan. (Is your wife going to let you use her washing machine to mix up all that salt? I hope not!) Keep these figures you will need to do this again in November.

POND PLANTS: February is time to hack back the ornamental grasses that look ratty. If there are plants that the foliage has been damaged by frost, this is a good time to remove the damaged leaves and broken stems. Place all the debris in your compost pile.

I love February it is the first sign that winter may be over. Please do not let the balmy weather fool you. The Pacific North West can have a hard frost clear into late April. February is a great time on the warm days to get out into the garden and do some sprucing up.

RAISED GARDENS: Now is the time to get the raised vegetable gardens built! I like to raise my beds 12 inches. Place a piece of plastic down first poke a few holes in it to let excess water out. Build a box over the plastic. Then fill the bottom of the box with old newspapers, magazines , junk mail 1 to 2 inches is great! Then a layer of gravel 1 to 2 inches so when you spade up later in the spring you do not dig into your magazines. Use good Topsoil if you can get it. Potting soil will work very well but will set you back some bucks$$$ . Mix in lots of composted plant material and sand. ( folks out at the beach need more soil and humus the rest of us need more sand and humus). Mix in all the soils and sand and let sit for a month and spade it over again in May.

Radishes, peas, bokchoy Leaf lettuce, turnips, chives, can be planted in May but wait till June to plant most Veggies in the Grays Harbor Area! Grays Harbor’s growing season is 2 months later than most areas. Rule of thumb : June, July, August, September, and October as our farming months. Count on March , April, May and November, to be cool and wet. Plant Sweet corn in raised beds in June and have “Knee High by 4Th of July” ( ok we cheat the raised bed is 12 inches tall already and the corn is 6” by the 4th of July). But the corn will be ready to eat (early varieties) by the middle of August and by planting 3 different varieties of corn you can harvest through mid November. I have yet to have fresh corn off the stalk for Thanksgiving. It seems the frost and heavy rains knock the corn down about November 18 every year.

Mark Paulsen