Thursday, December 24, 2009




If you live in a mild climate with night time freezing temperatures, your valued flowers, bushes, and pond plants can be kept safe by simply covering them at night. There are different ways to cover your plants. A breathable nursery cloth can be purchased from the hardware store or garden center. They are form fitting and look decent too.

But if cost effectiveness is more of a priority, the next best choice is a simple utility tarp. In a pinch, a simple bedsheet will work too. Simply cover at night and uncover in the morning time when the sun warms up the garden.

The warmest place to put your potted plants is up against your house. The prime spot is the sunny side of the house and blocked from the wind. It will not prevent your plants from getting frost bite, but will give them the extra protection needed to survive the cold.

Another easy and attractive way to keep you plants in the winter is to build a window box. You can use old junk windows or plexiglass.


Here is a design that I have used many times with both my vegetable gardens and my ponds. As in previous blogs, I used PVC pipe and plastic sheeting, similar to the picture on the left. Remember, it is important to have as little air space possible above your garden to maximize warmth inside your garden dome.

This design is similar to the picture above and uses utillity wire and plastic. If you want to get a head start on your spring garden, this is the way to get it done. Keep your young plantlings covered both day and night. They will thrive on the added humidity during the day and will be protected from frosty temps at night.



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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Build an Easy Troth Pond

This started out really shabby and spontanious. I didn't want to buy any materials and only used what I had around the house. I had some old boards that a friend was giving way. I got these through Then I staked the boards up with bricks, rods, and sharpened sticks that I pounded into the ground. I let the fense be the back board and used twine to hang the plastic lining. I had my doubts at first, because it seemed very crude!

Next, I laid out the 4 mil thick plastic sheeting, and gently patted it down with my feet. The cat didn't appreciate it. She thought it would be fun to climb underneath and howled at me when I accidentally stepped on her!

I filled up my troth with water... guarding it from the dog who thought I was putting in a new wading pool!

I added my water hyacinth and that was it! It's not the most charming pond, but it is functional and that is what I was aiming for. The pond has been working well for over a month now.

Go to How to Make a Greenhouse in 1 Hour to see the greenhouse I made over the pond!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Aquarium Pond Plants

I was just wondering if you can put pond plants in a fish aquarium???

Ms Mossy Pond,

Yes you can put pond plants in an aquarium. The most common are anacharis and hornwort. This is a fresh underwater plant that clarifies and oxygenates the water. These and other types of aquarium grasses can be purchased at your local pet store. You can also start water lotus seeds in an aquarium as long as you have a nice sunny window. Floating plants such as frogsbit, water hyacinth, and water lettuce can be kept in an aquarium but grow much better outdoors.

Later today I received a question about pond plants in a beta container. Plants that grow well in low light will work just fine in a beta container; such as a large vase. Beta are easy to fry in a sunny window where pond plants grow the best. So, because most pond plants need sunshine and beta fish need low light, then pond plants will not work out in a beta aquarium. If you do a Google search for "low light aquarium plants" you should be able to find an attractive plant that will work out well for your beta fish.

How to Repel Ants!

Got ants in the house?
Here are some herbal ideas to keep them away!

Ants are sensitive to bold odors and cannot stand the smell of herbs such as:
  • Cloves
  • Crushed mint leaves
  • Ground Cinnimon
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Fresh Garlic
  • and Fresh Bay Leaves

If you really want to kill them off the "organic" way, then mix up a wicked batch of 1 part honey to 1 part boric acid. However, this mix is NOT good for pets or children. A safer way to kill these creepy crawlers is to mix up honey with baking yeast. The yeast will expand under the its extoskeleton and the ants will litterally pop!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

How to get rid of garden snails

Beer is an old remedy to get rid of the slimy critters,
but if you have dogs it's not such a hot idea. Try sprinkling ginger around your plants instead. Snails can't stand the stuff!

The cool thing about oranges is that unlike beer, the dogs will not touch them. If you place some orange slices in a jar it will attract the snails away from your plants. They will climb in the jar and you can dispose of them in any wicked way you desire!

Mix Up Your Plants
I grow artichoke plants. The snails love the cool underside of the leaves and deep damp crevises near the base. So if you don't have any chickens that will eat the snails, try mixing up a variety of plants in your garden. Snails shy away from plants such as corn, grapes, beans, basil, azalea, hibiscus, parsley, rose, poppy, rosemary, and sunflowers.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Build a Greenhouse in 1 Hour

Build a Greenhouse in 1 Hour or Less!
This is an easy way to cover your pond or garden

All you need are:
2 - ½ inch 10’ long PVC pipes
4 – ¼ inch or smaller thick 12 inch long stakes
4 mil thick or 6 mil thick
Plastic sheeting
Zip ties

The greenhouse in the pic above was made with 4 frames attached together.

Pound stakes into the ground
Pound at least 4 stakes about 6 inches deep into the ground for each corner of your greenhouse. You can use rebar or even tree limbs sharpened to a point (tent stakes will not work because of its shape).

Bend PVC pipe over your garden

Slide one end of the PVC pipe over one stake and bend over your garden. Slide the other end of the pipe over the stake on the other side of your garden. Repeat for the other corner.

If your garden is large, then you will need to add additional stakes and pipe. This is what I did for the long water hyacinth troth that I built - the feature pic.

Lay plastic sheeting over frame
Lay plastic sheeting over the frame. Carefully poke holes with a pair of scissors and attach with zip ties. Allow for a flap opening on one side to allow for room to tend to your garden. That’s it! It’s amazing how warm this simple greenhouse will keep your garden throughout the wintertime.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Stinky Ponds and Hyacinth

Will any of the pond plants live thru the winter? Hyanciths die in the winter
correct?.....Is it best to get them out and dump them (they get stinky) or just leave them in the pond until spring?

Sherrie Bakersfield, CA
Actually, many pond plant last through the wintertime. Water hyacinth will also last the winter. It does not do well in severe cold, but in mild climates it does very well through the winter. Water hyacinth can be wintered over indoors or covered outdoors at night with a tarp. I also have a free simple plan for a greenhouse that you can put together yourself. I really do not have any problems with stinky water hyacinth, because the hyacinth clarifies the water. Potted plants allowed to stand in stagnant water do get stinky. So I know what you mean. A good remedy for a smelly pond is to add any kind of mint plant. Water hyacinth will stay fresh if the old leaves and flowers are picked. Excess plants and old growth also makes excellent mulch. Simply toss them under your bushes or in your vegetable garden.

I’m very glad to help you! In the springtime I will have lots more plants; such as water lilies and water lotus.


Any type of mint plant will help freshen a stinky pond.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Water Hyacinth Care

How do I care for the water hyacinth I bought from you? Do need soil in the bottom of my water garden for this plant? They are first plants in my water garden.

Please help me. Thanks

Water Hyacinth is extremely easy to care for, especially in Southern California. It will especially thrive on the Pacific south coast where you are located. Water Hyacinth is a free floating plant which does not need to be planted in soil at all. In very shallow water, however, its roots will dig into the muddy soil below. Water Hyacinth grows best in warmer temps. Fertilization is not necessary, but to promote added blooms I would submerge some pond fertilizer packs or tabs.

The only threat to water hyacinth are animals; such as dogs or raccoons. They love to pull them out and play with the bulbs which are full of air. It will not harm your animals, unless there are toxins present in the water. The other threat to water hyacinth is freezing temperatures and frost. The plants will not recover if frost bitten.

Care is easy in mild climates. I simply throw a clear plastic tarp over my pond in the wintertime. Another way to protect your pond in winter is to build an easy PVC pipe and plastic dome greenhouse; which you can find on my youtube videos. Pick off old tired leaves and separate new plantlings after they establish from runners.

Enjoy your plants and Happy Ponding!


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Growing Mint in Water Gardens

I have a Chocolate Mint plant, will this grow in water all the time? I know the roots grow like mad when I make the babies for friends/family. Just wondering if any mint will do???

Baby Mama,

Hi Michelle -

Actually any kind of mint variety can acclimate to grow in the pond. Simply grow it as a shallow water bog plant. I have spearmint (which is similar) growing in my Aztec floating garden in my pond. It is a natural platform made of earth and grape vines. The mint roots dangle down through the soil and into the water. Below is a drawing I made of one growing vegetables.

Great Question! Thanks!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Goldfish and Water Hyacinth

I received a great question from friend, Liveoakmerlin

Hi, It's Live Oak Merlin Again!
I have a question about goldfish. I got a big clear plastic bin and filled it with water. I am letting it sit out in the sun to declorinate. I am going to get a pump with a fountain head to put in it and want to put goldfish in it. When spring comes I want to put water hyacinth in it. My question is:
Do goldfish and hyacinth go good together?
Do I have to clean the water or let it go green?
Do I have to feed the fish or do they eat the hyacinth?
My main question though is do I clean the water or let it go green?
Will it hurt the fish and if they don't get along?
I would like to grow hyacinth by its self and I wanted to know how to get the water that reflective black color. It's very pretty. Do I need to add something or does it do it itself.
Great question, Merlin. Goldfish are great in the pond because they are:

1. Very hardy and tolerate near freezing temps
2. They eat mosquito larvae
3. They are great for the pond ecosystem
4. They do not harm your plants!
5. They are cheap and easy to replace.

I have a couple goldfish right now that are 10 years-old!
So, yes. Goldfish and hyacinth go well together. I have goldfish in my personal pond and the hyacinth are growing like mad.

Do not let your water go green. There is no need for that and it will take forever to get the green gunk out. A first-year pond typically has algae problems. Drops from the pet store (located in the pond supply area) will take care of any green algae. Normally, algae will party if the water is stagnant and is in full sun all day long. (Similar to a fish tank in a sunny window.)

Only feed your outside goldfish one time per week. They do just fine with little food, because they also eat any bugs or larvae in the water. If you feed your fish too much they will die. The reflective black water is found with ponds that are very deep. Your primary goal should be clarity. I would suggest water hyacinth, water lettuce, and submerged plants such as anacharis or hornwort. I have all these plants available if you need them. Also, all of these plants provide an excellent breeding environment for fingerlings, baby goldfish.

Thanks so much for writing!



Thursday, November 12, 2009

The "Evil" Parrot Feather

I recently received an email out of the blue about the evasive plant, parrot feather...

Hey Pond Plant Girl ,

Came across your offer to sell Parrot Feather during my Googling. Sorry I can't say I'm in the market as I already bought some from Eisley's Nursery in nearby Auburn, CA. HOWEVER! The reason I was searching for Parrot Feather in the first place was to find out HOW TO GET RID OF IT! This gunk is incredibly invasive and is a wonderful breading ground for mosquito larvae among other facts I have learned. The sale of it is BANNED in several states some countries. You would do well to educate yourself about it with specific instructions for contained pond users to make sure it STAYS contained. My single little sprig has spread to over 2/3 of my 30' pond.

That's all I got to say. I also noticed a couple of other plants you're selling which I found on lists of invasive plants in at least one state (Maine?) so you may wish to research all your plants.

Just sayin...


I love getting email. Good or bad, I always love it. Here's my reply...

Hi Jesse

Mosquitoes will thrive in any body of fresh water, plants or no plants. Getting rid of them is easy. You can get free mosquito fish from your local county mosquito abatement department, or you can purchase minnows for about 6 for $1 at the pet store. They multiply quickly and will take care of all of your mosquito problems.

I am aware about the evasive plants, thanks. Actually, most pond plants can be evasive if allowed to grow without potting or some kind of control. Like any land garden, pond plants need to be tended to and plants need to be pulled when they push the limits. Even water lily and water lotus, cattail, and the humble duckweed can go crazy when the conditions are just right.

Depending on the type of pond that you have, there are a couple things that you can do. Koi will eat almost anything. They are like the hogs of the water world. I only feed my koi one time per week and they do pretty good clearing the wild growing plants in my backyard pond. Just be sure not to have the minnows in with the koi, because the koi fish will eat those too! Goats are also very good if the water is shallow. Then, there is always resorting to completely draining your pond, lining it, and starting over again.

Thanks for writing!



Monday, October 5, 2009

Do I need a bio-filter system?

John from Lemoore California writes:

"Hi Gail,

You brought plants to me a little over a week ago, and I'd like to thank you. They look all look great. My mother said you told her about a plant that would do very well on the bottom of the pool, but she couldn't remember the name of it. Anyway, she said it would be about $300 to cover the bottom. I'm very interested. Also, I was wondering if you think I'd still need a bio-filter if I cover the bottom. If so, do you have any advice on how to build or buy a cheap one?

Thank you"

"Hi John!

Sounds great. If you have the right balance of plants, then you do not need a bio-filter. However, you might want to vacuum the pond if you intend to swim in it. My advice is to see how well you do with the plants first and see if they will filter well enough on their own. I have been ponding for over 10 years and have never had the need for any type of filtration system. The only time I have needed one was when I had a decorative fountain. Fountains get clogged easily and their motors burn out – even if they are propped up above the sediment.

The other idea I had for your pond was a floating island. You can purchase one commercially or you can make one like I did. The design I used was fashioned after the Aztec Chinampa (east to Google). It appears like a floating island, but is actually an island for crops that is built on poles or pylons.

The plant you are looking for is called "anacharis". It is important for algae control, oxygenation, and clarifying the water. I only have a small amount of anacharis in my nursery, but can order more from a friend. His plants are high quality and will take root quickly. If you have Paypal, that would be the easiest way for me to place the order for you..."



Friday, October 2, 2009

The Sandbox Pond Frame

It’s time for a Pond Makeover!

Rubbermaid Tub Ponds are small and fall apart… For years I have been coaching my pond friends that if you cannot afford a pond or pre-fab pond liner to use a Rubbermaid tub. Now it’s time to get past that. While they might be a novelty at first, cheap plastic containers do not have enough room for pond plants to spread out and grow. They get sun bleached; they become cracked and fall apart, and they just look bad.

The Kiddy Pool Pond Option... A step up from a Rubbermaid tub pond is a child’s wading pool or kiddy pool. This is a great project for kids. If you are handy with a shovel you can even dig a hole in your yard and use a kiddy pool as a pond liner. Kiddy pools have far more room for water lilies to spread out, but they are shallow and their round shape is not space efficient if it is used as a patio pond.

So what is the next affordable option?

The Sandbox Pond Frame
I am a freak and have been getting lots of free stuff from my new friends and neighbors that I have met online right here in my own community. Recently someone gave away a wood sandbox. It actually looks like a twin size bed frame or waterbed frame (4'x6' and 8" deep, 120 gallons). It was perfect! I am not handy with a shovel and most of my ponds are above ground on my patio. After calling Cecelia (a new Freecycle friend and neighbor) to help pick it up with her truck, I had a new instant pond! All it took was a roll of 4mil thick black plastic from Lowe’s and water. I call it my no-holes pond, because. This has inspired me to make more. I have a pile of wood planks (that I also picked up from and will build new box frames using my leftover black plastic and with “L” braces also from Lowe’s.

Screwing in the "L" Brace and my assistant...

Now I have plenty of room for my water lilies!

My assistant eating pie...

But it’s October! Why build now?
Why not??? In my area of the country, winter doesn’t really set in until February. No matter where you live, ponds can be enjoyed year-round. My next project will be to build a new greenhouse design and a homemade oil drum heater. See pics below.


Your garden friend and neighbor,

The Pond Plant Girl

Build a New Greenhouse

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Planting and Fertilizing Pond Plants

Luis from Florida says: “Any tips for planting these plants (wild rice, fairy lily, and water lily). I have a friend that told me wild rice needs to be in a shady spot in my pond or it will die. Is that true and if so how much shade? From your website I see that the Fairy lily likes full sun to partial shade. If you have any tips on the wild rice or the red attraction I would appreciate it. I am very new to gardening hopefully with a lot of hard work and nice sunny days I may be able to reach Novice status. Thank you for the other 2 lilies and good luck on having your own nursery.”

Hi Luis -

At this time of year I would place the wild rice in full sun. I have an area of my patio garden next to the driveway that can get up to 120 degrees in the summertime. In that case – then yes the plants would get overheated, suffer from sunburn, and die. Plants that grow in small containers can easily overheat the root system. If you place your plants in a pond with nice moving water, then you should do just fine. Wild Rice is a full sun plant… so I would say to place it in full sun and keep an eye on it. If it shows signs of stress then I would suggest moving it. The leaves will grow and die off as grass plants do. It can go dormant in winter and then come back again in the springtime. Plant the rice in a regular 1 gallon container with holes and use pond soil. Fertilize near the bottom of your container.

Pond Fertilizer: Pond specific fertilizer is best. You can buy it at any large hardware store. I purchased mine on eBay. Fertilizer should never touch the roots, but be about 3 inches or more below the root system.

Fairy Lily will go dormant in the wintertime too. Grow in a regular 1 gallon container with holes and use the pond soil. Fertilize near the bottom of your container.

The water lily grows best in a lily basket. I’m posting a new video show about how to make your own. It’s pretty easy… simply take a large butter tub and cut slots on the sides and bottom. See picture below. I could make it look better by painting it black, but not sure how the paint would do in the water. Anyway, with a fully stocked pond the container would not be visible. Plant in full sun with fertilizer near the bottom of the tub. If you fertilize once per month throughout the spring and summertime, you should have lots of flowers and big lilies too.



Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Build an Aztec Floating Garden

The Aztec floating garden looks like a floating garden. In reality, it is a garden that is supported by pylons. This picture is an Aztec floating garden called a Chinampas. The benefits of growing a Chinampas garden are: they provide shelter for the pond fish against predators, Chinampas use far less water than traditional irrigation, and vegetables grow healthier and yield 7 times more crops.

Learn how to make your own Chinampas at:



The Pond Plant Girl

Monday, January 5, 2009


ROCK for HUNGER has caught the Feed the Hungry Garden buzz. Chris from Rock will be helping to launch the fund raiser to help turn empty city lots into vegetable gardens to feed the poor and hungry. Way to go Chris!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Wheatgrass BLOG Day 1

Wheatgrass Blog - day 1
Just slight growth poking out! How exciting! These seeds were purchased from a neat lady on eBay andI was amazed to see how fast they started! Gotta love it!

Friday, January 2, 2009

How to Grow a Winter Vegetable Garden

How to Grow a Winter Vegetable Garden

A vegetable garden can be started even if you live in a very cold region. A few simple tools will help you get started!

The Best Winter Vegetables
All winter veggies can be sown before the last frost of the season. Begin your garden by sowing seeds indoors. The following are vegetables that grow best in cold weather.

90 Days to Maturity Plants


Planting: Plant young starter plants 10" apart with leaves partially buried in surface soil.
Growing: Moderate watering. Fertilize 1 time per month.


Planting: Mulch a 12" hole then plant young starters in the soil about 3" apart.

Growing: Moderate watering. Do not allow soil to dry out. Harvest when carrots are deep orange.

Globe Onion

Planting: Mulch an 8" hole with compost then plant young starters about 5" apart.

Growing: Easy to grow & produces beautiful flowers. Moderate watering.

See more 90-day Winter Plants at

Also see: ☼ Winter Water Gardening LIGHT BOX

All vegetable plants grow best in Full Sun. The minimum amount of sunlight your garden will need is 6 hours per day. When starting the plants indoors, it is heat and water that will get the seeds started instead of light. After they have sprouted, however, the seedlings will need a sunny window to grow. Light may also be increased with the use of mirrors reflecting the sun's rays and a simple LED grow light too.

The process of "mulching a hole" involves mixing the ground soil or potting mix with cured garden manure or compost. The compost should consist of decomposing leaves and grass clippings. Mulching the topsoil involves spreading out fall leaves, grass clippings, or straw to keep the plants warm and to keep the moisture in the ground.

Germinate your seeds faster with a heated grow mat from Burpee Seeds online or any hydroponics store. The one in the image shows a growing tray with a dome lid; which is the most effective way of propagating seeds. You will definitely notice the difference with a setup such as this. The mat is water proof, safe to use, and cost effective too.

Outdoors, add a string large Christmas tree lights on top of the soil to keep your young plants from freezing. Inside a greenhouse or cold frame, Christmas lights will increase the air temperature by 20 degrees.

Greenhouses and Cold Frames

Also see: Affordable Greenhouses and Cold Frames
and Build a Greenhouse for Under $25

Cover plants with a cold frame or small pvc greenhouse. A greenhouse not only protects young plants from frost, but also increases the humidity needed for growth. The use of a greenhouse with C-9 Christmas tree lights will increase air temperature up to 20 degrees. Grow a vegetable garden in the middle of winter even when the weather gets down to freezing.

ALSO SEE: ☼ HOW TO GROW house plants and ☼ HOW TO GROW Wheatgrass


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