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!