Tag Archives: winter

Preparing Your Pond For Winter

For any enthusiastic gardener, autumn is a perplexing time. Your arduous work throughout spring and summer begins to fade away, with the promise of next season and another fruitful crop just on the horizon. Pond keepers are no different in this respect; they toil all year to fight off algae blooms and keep their pond in the best condition for its inhabitants, only to be bombarded with algae come spring. The thought of having to cover up the pond, no longer being able to sit around and enjoy it with a cold drink in hand, can be a little sad. However, with a little maintenance during autumn and winter, your pond will be match fit for the first sign of a warm spring day.

The main priority for any pond owner throughout the year is to keep the pond water ‘healthy’. If the water parameters are correct in terms of pH and KH (carbonate hardness), you will provide a healthy environment for aquatic wildlife, fish and beneficial bacteria. It cannot be stressed enough, that without the water parameters being correct, beneficial probiotic bacteria will struggle to deal with the unwanted organics added during autumn & winter that elevate the risk of fish & wildlife death and algae blooms in spring.

Without any care or maintenance over autumn and winter, ponds begin to form a layer of sludge on the bottom from unwanted organics such as leaves, twigs and faecal waste from fish and wildlife. Whilst frogs and newts love to lay in this sludge, if left untreated, it can cause an imbalance in the water, making it poisonous to wildlife and fish by discharging Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S) gas from anaerobic bacteria inside the sludge.

Essential Autumn Care Tasks
To prevent an algae bloom in spring, complete these simple tasks during autumn:

Check your water quality

After a spring and summer of algae, acidic rain and fish waste your pH and KH levels will need adjusting. The pH should be between 7 & 8.3 and the KH level should be above 5. You can either buy a quality testing kit, take a sample of water to your local water garden centre or simply use Pond Equaliser to instantly stabilise the pH at 8, and KH above 5. Pond Equaliser will also remove any ammonia and heavy metals to create a safe and healthy environment for fish, wildlife and beneficial probiotic bacteria.

Add bacteria

Add quality, probiotic bacteria that are capable of working at temperatures lower than 08°C. Use Pond Klear for smaller ponds, Natural Pond Klear for larger natural ponds and Winter Pond Treatment for the colder winter months. Task-specific probiotic bacteria slowly digest any debris and unwanted organics and reduce the toxic H2S levels.

Tend to plants

Prune back any aquatic plants and remove any floating debris from the pond; this debris can be deposited in a compost heap as it is high in nitrogen and other essential nutrients for plant growth. Don’t forget to check for any wildlife that may be hibernating when removing aquatic plants or sludge; newts and frogs will hibernate in sludge and dragonfly larvae can lie dormant in plants for several months. When you remove any debris or plants from a pond, leave them at the side for a couple of hours to allow any wildlife to make its way back to the pond.

Cover up

Cover your pond with a net to catch leaves and twigs; leave gaps around the edge to allow wildlife to get in and out of the pond. The frogs and newts that may be hibernating at the bottom of the pond will be ready and waiting to eradicate slugs and snails in spring.

Put your fish on a diet

Feed fish less as the temperature drops, or consider moving to a low protein food. As temperatures drop, fish eat less, once it gets below a certain temperature they will stop feeding. If you continue feeding them, the wasted food will break down, release nutrients into the water to feed any algae and will add to the layer of sludge at the bottom.

Deep clean

If you have a filter, clean it thoroughly in autumn to remove any algae or debris trapped during summer and clean monthly throughout autumn and winter.

Keep it moving, slowly

Keep pumps and filters running all year; they will continue removing debris and prevent the pond from freezing over. If possible, turn the flow rate down to avoid cooling the water further. If water freezes over, it restricts the available oxygen for fish, and seals in the toxic gases that can be released from decaying organics.

Check your water quality, again…

Most important of all, get the water parameters right to increase the ponds biological self-cleaning ability, as this will reduce the amount of work required, and increase the enjoyment of your pond in spring & summer 2018.

For more information on why ponds go green in spring, read our blog post here.

How To Prepare Your Garden For Spring

To save you wondering what to do in your garden this winter, we’ve compiled some advice that will help you get your garden ready for spring. Gardening isn’t just for the summer time; there’s a lot you can be doing while the nights are short and the air is cold.

 

Create a space for composting

If you don’t already have a designated spot for your compost, pick one now before the season kicks in. Ideally, you want a space where the conditions are constant; finding some cover from rain and sun will improve the quality of the compost.

Compost bin –  A purpose-built compost bin will provide the best conditions for composting.

Open air compost – While it’s more difficult to control the environment factors effecting an open-air compost spot, it will still compost eventually.

Envii Compost Accelerator is our very own high strength compost accelerator. It’s task-specific bacteria and fungi improve the speed of the composting process whilst improving the fertility of the end-result. Read this review on The Middle-Sized Garden.

 

Tidy up your garden

When there isn’t much else to do on the gardening to-do list, get out there and pick up dead leaves, trim any herbaceous perennials and remove any other debris from your borders. If possible, wait till late winter/early spring to do this because all sorts of creatures may still be using the debris for shelter from the cold.

 

Prepare your soil

  • Remove weeds from the soil
  • Dig, lift and turn all your soil – this gives it better access to air and improves the fertility.
  • Spread compost, manure or fertiliser to your top soil.
  • Add our soil improver:  Envii Foundation – It has beneficial bacteria that improve the germination and growth of young plants and protect against plant diseases.

 

Order your seeds early

Decide early what you want to grow this year and order. This will give you the chance to plan when you are going to plant in advance and take all the stress away.

 

Prepare your defence against garden pests

Cleaning up your garden is the first step to defending against garden pests. It is also worth encouraging birds into your garden by putting up bird feeders etc. These will eat slug and snails and act as your garden patrol.

Use Envii Feed & Fortify as a physical protection against molluscs. As a form of diatomaceous earth, Feed & Fortify dries the molluscs out and kills them. It also included iron silicates that improve the fertility of the soil.

 

Start growing plants indoors

Plants that have a longer growing cycle – like tomatoes and peppers – can benefit from being started indoors. Plant them indoors around 8 weeks before the last expected frost and then re-pot them into deep containers before finally planting them in the ground. This will improve your success rate dramatically. Envii Foundation can still be used on plants started indoors in order to improve the germination and growth.

Click here for any more information on the products mentioned

 

 

 

Why Do Ponds Go Green In The Spring?

Ponds turn green in early spring. That’s pretty much gospel among pond keepers; it’s just the way things are.

Why does it happen?

Basically, there are two types of bacteria in a pond – aerobic (good) and anaerobic (bad).  These two types of bacteria are in a constant battle to digest the organic debris that ends up in the pond (twigs, leaves, fish food etc). When the anaerobic (bad) bacteria digests it, it takes a lot longer and produces gases like nitrogen and phosphorus which, in turn, act as a food source for algae. When we add aerobic (good) bacteria to the pond, they overcome to the anaerobic (bad) bacteria and digest the organic debris a lot quicker and don’t create any harmful gases. This is why, when you use bacterial pond treatments you are getting to the source of the problem; rather than just eating the algae, you are starving it of its food source.

The problem is that anaerobic (bad) bacteria can digest organic matter as low as 6°C, whereas aerobic (good) bacteria treatments traditionally work around 10-12°C. This means that all winter your pond is losing the battle against algae and when spring comes, the algae starts to feed.

It’s all about to change

Envii Winter Pond Treatment is a new type of aerobic bacteria treatment.  It works as low as 4°C which means that you can win the battle of the bacteria all year round.  Its task-specific bacteria digest the organic debris meaning that when you come back to pond in spring, it will stay clear. Then continue to treat with Envii Pond Klear and your pond will never go green again!

This is the first pond treatment designed to work all through the winter!

For more information on Envii Winter Pond Treatment, click here. 

How to plant garlic the right way this winter

It’s really important to know what you’re doing when planting garlic in winter. There’s not much else you can be doing around the garden or allotment at this time of year so if you’re going to plant, you want to do it right. Generally speaking, your harvest will be more successful if you plant in autumn but with careful planting, you can still have success.

Firstly, buy your bulbs from a seed merchant (we use Marshalls Seeds). They are far more likely to succeed than if you go to a supermarket.

If you live in an area of relatively mild conditions, you can plant them in well prepared soil. However, you will need to take precautions to protect them from the cold. The best solution is to use plant blankets and treat with Envii Early Starter, our very own bio stimulant that acts as an anti-freeze for plants.

  1. Break up the garlic bulbs to separate the individual cloves.
  2. Plant in prepared soil so that the tip is around 2.5cm below ground.
  3. Plant cloves 10cm apart.
  4. Treat soil with Early Starter using a trigger spray.

Remember – Choose an area in full sun and with well-drained, light soil.

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Autumn leaves

My drive into the office this morning was different. Same route, same car, same tunes but something had changed. Something that I might have subconsciously noticed because of the date – autumn has arrived. Okay, that might be a bit dramatic, but I couldn’t help but feel slightly pessimistic at the brown leaves on the pavement and mention of September on Radio 2. Anyway, it got me thinking of the preparation necessary for the inevitable cold months ahead. I know what you’re thinking, stop banging on about winter just because you’ve turned the page on the calendar, but it’s important, especially to us gardeners.

Autumn is a time for preparation – if you fail to prepare for winter, you’ll create yourself twice as much work next year. Here’s a list of jobs you need to get done before the frost comes in –

  • Make sure your tender plants are under cover
  • Pick tomatoes
  • Feed soil
  • Plant or move evergreens and conifers
  • Plant spring bedding and bulbs

There is also some myth that the planting season is over; which simply isn’t true. September can be an excellent time for planting – whether in preparation for the next season or even to harvest before winter. These plants are still worth a go –

  • Broad beans and peas – these plants will establish themselves over winter which means they will flower and fruit early and increase your yield. It may be necessary to fleece them, depending on how cold the winter is.
  • Garlic – garlic is one of those rare plants that can be planted anytime during the winter.
  • Leafy vegetables – many vegetables with lots of large leaves can be planted and harvested during autumn.

Watch this space for more tips on autumn and winter gardening. All is not lost!

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Image by joiseyshowaa