I beat a hasty retreat the day of Christmas Eve from the advancing
arctic air mass
that is starting to settle into the region. Preoccupation with the
construction of my yet unfinished greenhouse had delayed some of my
winter prepairations but I was fortunate to get my ponds cleaned last
month while awaiting delivery of material for the ongoing project.
And I was lucky to have that opportunity. Last year winter came on so
fast and early that it really caught me off guard and I lost quite a few
fish because I was not able to get the leaves out of my ponds before
they iced over. This year the reason for my last minute scramble was
different but funny how it always seems to go this way!
First I had to rescue some valuable water plants from the nursery tub. I
placed a stock tank heater in the night before to thaw it out so I could
transfer the Yellow Water Crowfoot and community pots of Lake Cress and
Nymphea tetragona to the deeper waters of the lower pond. Then later
after I got back from some last minute Christmas shopping I doned waders
so I could move a pot of Cutleaf Milfoil and some Spider Lilies to
Later came the pulling of more bog plants- an effort that began the
previous evening. I brought the potted Calopogon orchids into my kitchen
where I could sit down and paw through the sphagnum and pick out the
bulbs and store them in small margarine tubs. Then I brought in the
newly aquired Lilium catesbaei which I left in their pots since they are
said to not like too much disturbance. The main reason I plant the
rarest bog plants in pots is to make it easy to locate them off season
and the reason I remove them to store in coolers for the winter is more
for protection from rodents than cold.
Have a tote tub with some of my rarer forms of pitcher plants ,
Parnassia assarifolia and other stuff that I pulled last night. Will
still have to
get more plants tomorrow but they are also in pots which will make it
easy to remove them even when the bog freezes up.
By now it was getting dark and colder and my attention turned to
Had drained the 300 gal Rubbermaid to transfer some Northern Redbelly
Dace and Bluespotted Sunfishes to another pond but could not find any in
the mess of bladderwort and leaves and it was getting too cold to work
in the water so I gave up and refilled the tub from my retention pond
and will just hope for the best. Likewise for a tub of Elassoma zonatum
I was holding onto in hope of wintering in the greenhouse. Fat chance
now. They are from progeny Ray Wolff that survived a winter in his ponds
(Central Wisconsin) so they had a fair chance of making it here. Much
better than if I tried to keep them indoors so they went into the lower
pond to take their chances there.
Have great regrets for the Mud Sunfish that Moon caught and gave to me
while we were in the Wilmington area in October. I found it floating in
the Spotted Turtle pool the week I did the major cleanups apparently
dead from asphyxiation. When I cleaned out all the leaves out I found
all the turtles and plenty of mud minnows doing fine.
Checked and accounted for the whereabouts of all the box turtles
and covered them with even more leaves and sawdust. Then the wood
turtles. Greedy, Shell-Shell and Bosco were moved from the small shallow
pond in their enclosure to the safty of the big pond. The reason I wait
so long to move them is to make sure the pond will be freezing over and
they will settle in before the next warm spell and be less likely to
quit the pond until spring.
Bosco gave me a bit of a scare because he was harder to find than his
mate and daughter. But once all the outside turtles were accounted for I
could breathe easier. The last tasks I performed was collection of white
pine needles to put inside the barrel well by the greenhouse to protect
my water line and control valve. Also got some to mulch a few bog plants
and then the Needle Palm which I then covered with the tote tub used to
gather the needle mulch.
When I said hasty retreat I meant it. The plants I pulled with the
exception of the Calopogons still need to be organized and labled for
storage. I will get that over the next few days. At the time was just a
matter of getting them into storage ahead of the hard freeze that is
setting in. If it did not warm up soon I hoped we might get some snow to
help protect things better.
Also I am hoping we can get thru the snarl involving the greenhouse kit
which right now seems more a nightmare to erect than the structure I had
built to attach it on. Even my builder agrees!
I have been catching up on last minute loose ends all week long.
Thursday we pretty much finished the wooden part of the greenhouse
structure. I went out and got a load of sawdust (have a great place
where I can get it for free) and piled it along the inside of the knee
wall to try to reduce frost penetration around the footer. The back wall
I am less worried about because it has a roof that keeps the soil there
Of course "global warming" can't be depended on when you need it the
most! Frigid arctic conditions seem determined to linger on for the
foreseeable future. Only benefit that came of that was some snow that
ought to insulate the ground and protect things a bit.
Yesterday I was still at it. When I did the Fall Cleanup I transfered
the potted water lilies from the tub gardens on the front porch but
forgot to empty the tubs themselves. So I have to thaw with a stock tank
heater and empty them now or else the plastic inserts may burst over
winter. Also one of them has a few Bluespotts in need of rescue.
I will transfer them to my main pond later this evening when I drain the
second tub. Just this afternoon I thawed a hole in the ice and inserted
the bubbler to maintain an opening for gas exchange. I can drop them in
Well I must say the year went fast up until the time I started the
greenhouse project and then things really slowed down there! Hope this
not mean that this is going to be a long winter!
Happy Holidays to All
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