Time to Catch Up

View from lower deck

View from lower deck

After nearly a month of being somewhat incapacitated with a blood clot in my right calf, I took a walk around the garden today just to see how much havoc Mother Nature had managed to create in my enforced absence. When I say havoc, I don’t mean that in a detrimental way at all. After all, nature has its own way of doing things and most without any semblance of order. There are very few straight lines in the way things grow and even if there were, the chances of focusing those lines just to the garden and not just willy-nilly all over the place are practically zero.

It’s not that I haven’t been able to get out and about, it’s more that my the leg really didn’t allow for much more than cleaning filters and feeding the fish. When the incident first started, I hobbled around on crutcheswhich by themselves are a proverbial pain in the arse. At least they allowed me to take care of the chores that had to be done. The crutches have caused some problems as the muscles under my right arm are completely black and blue and now yellow from the bruise they created.

View from the upper deck

From the crutches, I moved to a walking cane which was much better and after a couple of weeks, was able to dump that as my movement increased. Being a very active man, this enforced inactivity was very frustrating for me.

So today was the first day that I really took stock of what has happened during this time.

We haven’t had any rain during this period although we badly need some. I am grateful that I spent time (and money) on automating a couple of things as this has kept the garden from drying out and has made it much easier to maintain. In an earlier blog, I described how I have installed two different watering systems to automate the watering. In the lower part of the garden, I installed a drip system mainly due to the fact that I had most of the material and needed to use it up. On the rest of the garden, I have installed soaker hoses all of which are attached to the faucets by pre-set timers which take turns to regularly water their part of the garden.

My most recent automation is in the ponds themselves which are subject to evaporation from the sun and heat and also water usage by the pond plants. This loss of water normally requires that the ponds need to be topped up every 4-5 days which has to be done very carefully and very closely monitored to prevent the addition of too much untreated water. The concern is that the chlorine and heavy metals in the water when added to excess, does kill the fish. Accidents like forgetting the faucets are running only to remember way too late are common stories in the ponding world and many owner returns to find the fish either dead or dying and it’s not a pretty sight.

In order to alleviate the risk, I always top up the ponds by use of a timer and even then, try to make sure that the water does not run for too long. Timers have been known to fail so the system isn’t foolproof.

In LIne Filter

In LIne Filter

My most recent installation on three of the ponds is to connect 1/2 ” pvc pipe through an automatic float valve at the pond end with an anti-chlorine filter at the timer end so all of the water is treated before entering the pond. The float valves are all pre-set to the level that I need and in turn, keep the water topped up all the time. The beauty of the system is that water is continually being added but in such small amounts that even without the filter, the amount will not harm the fish.

Pond Float

Pond Float

It took me a couple of months to work out the timers on the garden watering system so that they did not run too often or for too long. The first month was pretty expensive but I managed to make enough adjustments so that it is now very affordable and very, very convenient.

Back to Mother Nature.  Under normal circumstances, the garden which is normally planned to be like a jungle is just that and is completely overgrown to the extent that it is almost impossible to walk down the paths, the vegetation is so thick. Almost like in the movies where the lead man has a machete which he uses to cut a way through.  I am one of those sort of gardeners that if I find an open space, I stick a plant in it and because of the great start we had with the early rain in May, nothing has died off this year and the plants have grown to their expected sizes and more. My practice of filling up every open slot has resulted in massive amounts of growth.

There are still some flowers blooming although most of the vegetation comprises of greenery. I have made a slide show of the many pictures that I took this morning.

Lat year, the drought and many days of 100 plus degrees played havoc with the garden, It was virtually impossible to get enough water onto the ground and the very best one could hope for was to at least to keep the plants alive. The drought prevented any form of growth and we lost many plants because of the dry conditions. The need to trim the walkways is currently top priority to make it easier to get around but I will probably not do too much to the rest of the vegetation. We always seem to get at least one killer frost every year and it will take care of any remaining vegetation and then I will be left with a major clean up job.

That is still someway down the road and the main concern now is to tidy things up a bit. I saw the big blue heron this morning for the first time in a couple of years. I’m sure that now he has located us, he will try to get at the fish. Good luck with that as the vegetation has grown completely around the ponds making it difficult to get close enough to go fishing. Hopefully, between the growth, the electric fences and the noisy dogs, the fish should be safe.

BTW, I have no idea if it is a male or not so I have a 50 percent chance that I am guessing correctly. They are beautiful birds and they are big with a wingspan somewhere in the region of a six feet. Pity they eat the fish…


Big Blue Heron


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