Tag Archives: Plants

Winterizing the pond

While I was working in the garden last week, I decided to do some cleanup work around the yard and start getting the pond ready for winter.

Sometimes winterizing includes a water change. Sometimes it involves skimming out fallen leaves. But it always involves removing floating plants and bringing a few inside before they freeze. Too many times, I’ve neglected to do that in a timely fashion, and I’ve found myself scooping slimy, dead, decaying water hyacinths and sludgy remnants of what used to be water lettuce out of the pond in the spring because fall turned to winter faster than I expected, and I didn’t get the plants out before they froze.


Not this year. Last weekend, I used a pitchfork to scoop most of the plants out of the pond, leaving just a few lonely specimens floating on the surface to provide cover for the goldfish until it gets cold enough for them to go dormant.

If you look closely, you can see some of the fish under the water.

When I removed the plants, I was delighted to discover all six of the feeder goldfish I’d dumped out there this summer were alive and well.

I moved a few plants into a bucket of water and stuck it in a sunny corner just outside a south-facing window, where it should stay above freezing all winter.

Hedging my bets, I also half-filled a miniature washtub with water, threw a hyacinth, a clump of water lettuce, and a few stray bits of duckweed in there, and parked it in the living-room window, where it should make a nice centerpiece for the next few months.

With nothing but fish and algae to muck up the water, the pond doesn’t really need the elaborate, multi-stage filtration system I designed for it last spring, so I disassembled the whole setup and replaced it with a variant on the biofilter I had on my pond in Cape. I upgraded the original design by placing the pump inside a half-gallon sherbet tub with 3/8-inch holes drilled in it, wedging chunks of old memory foam around it, and setting the whole thing inside a one-gallon ice-cream tub with 1/4-inch holes drilled in it. I slipped a layer of Scotch-Brite pads between the tubs, providing additional filtration, and anchored the lid with a bungee cord.

After I put away the excess filter components, I was left with a stack of cinderblocks just right for another project I’d been considering for several months. I’ll show you that one tomorrow.


Make-It Monday: Propagating African violets

I have no idea whether this will work, but I found instructions online for propagating African violets, and since I had a violet growing and blooming like mad, half a bag of leftover potting mix, and an empty plastic salad tub, I thought I’d give them a shot.

Here's the tub. It creates a mini-greenhouse to keep them warm and moist. The mother plant is in the background.
Here’s the tub. It creates a mini-greenhouse to keep them warm and moist. The mother plant is in the background.

I had several plants that needed to be repotted, propagated, or both. My aluminum plant — which was rootbound and suffering terribly in the dry air in this house — went into a bigger pot, with a plastic bag over it to keep the leaves from drying out. Meanwhile, my spider plant needed a bigger pot for itself, and I snipped off a couple of its babies and transplanted them while I was at it:

This was the pot that originally held the mother plant. I expect this baby will outgrow it quickly.
This was the pot that originally held the mother plant. I expect this baby will outgrow it quickly.
Another baby I planted. I love this uber-'70s, avocado-green pot I bought from the Plant Lady.
Another baby I planted. I love this uber-’70s, avocado-green pot I bought from the Plant Lady.

We’ll see how they do. They look cool on the credenza, where I put CFLs in a couple of faux-mid-century lamps to supplement the decidedly inadequate natural light coming in the front window.

I developed a new appreciation for African violets after a conversation with a young friend in California who messaged me on Twitter to ask what sort of plants would do well in her dorm room. I suggested several species, including African violets, and after looking at some pictures online, she was quite enchanted with them and was looking forward to a plant-shopping trip with her dad. (Good luck, Kadijah! If you ever make it to Missouri, we’ll spend an afternoon poking around the Plant Lady’s shop and Mother Earth Plants.)