This month involved our battle with the leaves & the first steps of winterizing.
November 2, 2002
Today we began the process of Winterizing the pond. Recent temperatures have been in the 40's dropping down to freezing at night. According to our digital BBQ fork, the pond's water temperature is a chilly 45 degrees now (& yes we did clean the fork thoroughly afterwards).
If the pond's water stops circulating the water forms layers of varying temperature. Water at the surface, exposed to the cold air can be several degrees cooler than more insulated water towards the pond's bottom. If the water pump is left on during the Winter, it disturbs this natural layering effect & can result in super chilled water throughout the pond. Not much fun for the fish. So it was time to remove the submersible water pump.
I had originally intended using my wet suit to retrieve the water pump from the pond's deep end. I changed my mind however after finding out I couldn't even put my hand in the water for more than 10 seconds at a time. The water was that cold. Instead I placed an aluminum ladder across the pond & tentatively crawled out over the frigid water much to the amusement of my neighbors I'm sure.
The hardest part of removing the water pump was detaching it from the pipe. Perched precariously over the middle of the pond, dealing with a slimy, stinky & very cold pump, pipe & power cord wasn't as much fun as I had hoped. After a short struggle the pump was removed & stored away in the house. Thankfully the ladder held. A slimy 45 degree swim wouldn't have been much fun especially on a crisp & breezy 40 degree November day.
We lightly cleaned the filters & placed them lose in the top pond rather than storing them dry. The idea being that some of the beneficial bacteria in the filters might survive till Spring. The filter bucket we stored away in the garden shed. The plumbing we more or less left in place although we did take care to place the disconnected end higher than the water level of the upper pond. Even with a one way check valve, the upper pond might have slowly siphoned its self dry over the Winter months.
Although many of the plants were still green & seemed to be doing OK, we pruned them back completely. Their leaves would have just died & decomposed in the water anyway. Still it was sad to see them cut back like that. Hopefully they will sprout new growth in the Spring.
While all the Winterizing was going on, three of the fish decided to come out of hiding to see what all the commotion was about. It was interesting to see how slowly they moved compared to their usual frantic warmer weather pace. They seemed healthy even though they've not been fed in weeks. Once the water temperature climbs above 50 degrees in the Spring we'll begin feeding them once again.
November 23, 2002
Leaves, Leaves & More Leaves
Autumn in New England means falling leaves... loads of them. As our pond is located in a semi wooded area, the daily chore of picking leaves out of the water got to a point where we just couldn't keep up. Leaves rained down constantly & on windy days, they blew over the pond's rock walls in large clumps. Something had to be done...
Deer Netting & PVC Piping to the Rescue
We purchased a roll of Deer Netting, which was a half inch squared black plastic mesh. We draped this over both ponds & anchored it with rock. This worked great until one windy day a large mass of leaves collected on the mesh. Their combined weight sagged the netting enough to allow the leaves to touch the water. This not only made it difficult to clear them off with our leaf blower but having them in the water, decaying, kinda defeated the whole purpose. The solution was, as you can see from the photo, a support made from PVC piping. Although not very pretty to look at it holds the netting high above the water & should keep debris from fouling the water until Spring.
Settling in for the Winter
The fish seem to be more comfortable now with the cold temperature of the water & no longer spend days at a time hiding. The cold killed off much of the algae so the pond's water is now crystal clear. Its now quite easy to spot the fish, even more so than it was during the Summer when they were active.