Clippings by Oscarmatic

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Water flow meter on fill line

posted by: Oscarmatic on 12.16.2013 at 01:06 pm in Ponds & Aquatic Plants Forum

The pond project is continuing to make good progress. Last week, the pond was drained completely and mucked out. I'm already looking ahead to reinstalling the bog plants and re-establishing our lovely ecosystem and bubbling stream.

One of the things that would be nice to know for future maintenance is the approximate volume of the pond. It is difficult to estimate because of the irregular shapes. Now that I need to refill the pond, I'm thinking a flow meter on the refill line will tell me exactly what I need to know. Has anyone used this method to determine pond volume?

For those of you who have used flow meters, did you have a temporary hose-end meter, or did you install one permanently? I am considering plumbing one into the refill line, so we can use it both to determine total volume and to monitor refill rates.

Finally, I would love your recommendations and advice for inexpensive flow meters. There are several types available and not much product review information. Suggestions are much appreciated.

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clipped on: 12.16.2013 at 01:16 pm    last updated on: 12.16.2013 at 01:16 pm

My 5-1-1 weekend

posted by: Oscarmatic on 12.10.2013 at 05:17 pm in Container Gardening Forum

This weekend, I mixed up my first batch of 5-1-1 potting mix. Thanks to the extraordinarily helpful posts on this site, I had a great time getting the ingredients together and mixing it up. I'm posting my experience in the hope it will help someone who comes after me, and to get feedback from the experienced gardeners about how I did.

My ingredients came from Walter Andersen Nursery in San Diego: GreenAll Micro Bark, coarse perlite, and coir (instead of peat). The coarse perlite only comes in an *enormous* bag, so if you're in San Diego and need some coarse perlite you know who has some extra. I read several GW posts about peat's sustainability plus coir's drawbacks and benefits, and I finally came down in favor of giving the coir a try based on cost. I have sooooo much of the other ingredients, I can always pop back into W.A.'s for a bag of peat if I need it.

The GreenAll Micro Bark was nicely consistent in size throughout the 2 cu ft bag. I sifted it using a slightly dented bin from The Container Store with a mesh just under 1/4". The small bin worked brilliantly for sifting neatly and efficiently. The photo below shows the sifted out wee bits on the left, and the bark on the right. The waste was less than a half gallon in volume.

I was unsure about the quantity of sap wood in this bark. The main problem was I am not entirely sure what bits of the bark mix are sap wood and should be picked out. I'd appreciate some experienced gardeners having a look at the photo and weighing in on whether this bark has a lot of sap wood.

Rather than deal with the perlite dust, I used the mesh bin to hold the perlite and rinsed it well with a garden hose. There were no small bits of perlite to deal with, and the dust rinsed away nicely.

The coir I used is Nature's Coco Organic Coir Garden Mulch. This is the type that gets soaked and expands. Having read the posts about coir's potential salinity, I rinsed and soaked and rinsed it (also in the very convenient mesh bin). The size of the Garden Mulch blend is highly irregular - some tiny shredded bits, and some bits larger than the pine bark nuggets. The coir nuggets break apart easily by hand, so if I'm not working with a large volume, it would be manageable to break it apart by hand.

I used the mesh bin as my measure, too -- 5 bins of bark, 1 bin of perlite, and 1 bin of reconstituted coir. I topped it with 2 cups of lime and a gallon of water. I mixed thoroughly by pouring the mix back and forth between two containers until it looked evenly mixed. The photo below shows the finished mix with a shiny quarter for size reference.

I saw a question in a previous thread about the weight of the 5-1-1 mix. Moist, but not wet, a #5 container (approx 5 gallons) of my mix is approximately 13 lbs.

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clipped on: 12.10.2013 at 05:21 pm    last updated on: 12.10.2013 at 05:21 pm

Help selecting a fruiting tree for sunny indoor pot

posted by: Oscarmatic on 12.05.2013 at 03:10 am in House Plants Forum

Hello. I would love to have a pretty fruiting tree in a container just inside my south-facing sliding-glass patio door. The container I plan to use is this one from IKEA, 12 1/2 x 23 1/2" galvanized, with Al's 5:1:1 soil mix.

My primary question is whether I can possibly expect to get fruit on any indoor-only potted tree? Or, would I be missing the garden pollinators - bees and whatnot - to do their work? (I'm not likely to go at it with a paintbrush.)

If indoor fruit is possible, I would love recommendations for plants likely to look good in this pot and do well in this location.

Thanks!

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clipped on: 12.05.2013 at 03:10 am    last updated on: 12.05.2013 at 03:10 am

Patio vine, braided base, okra-shaped variegated leaves

posted by: Oscarmatic on 12.04.2013 at 05:54 pm in Name That Plant Forum

Hi, this is the third of the mystery vines I inherited on my patio. It is growing up a trellis and has tightly-twined, thick woody stems. The leaves are lovely, from 2" to 3.5" long, about the shape of okra (though flat and not fat). The tips end in tiny flowers arranged like wheat. This vine is planted in the ground on the north-facing side of the fence.

Many thanks!

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clipped on: 12.04.2013 at 06:41 pm    last updated on: 12.04.2013 at 06:41 pm

Patio vine, dark green oval leaves

posted by: Oscarmatic on 12.04.2013 at 10:57 am in Name That Plant Forum

Hi, I have another mystery vine on the new patio. This is a twining vine growing up a trellis and across the ground. It is planted in the ground against the north-facing side of a fence, so is in shade this time of year. It doesn't have fruit or flowers, and is afflicted with some malaise turning leaves white.

I hope to know whether to rescue, propogate, or remove the vine. Many thanks for your help with the identification.

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clipped on: 12.04.2013 at 11:02 am    last updated on: 12.04.2013 at 11:02 am

How to interpret a municipal water report

posted by: Oscarmatic on 11.22.2013 at 01:11 pm in Container Gardening Forum

There are a few threads here mentioning the impact of tap water minerals, hardness, and ph on container plants grown in the gritty or 5:1:1 mix. I've done some reading on how to intepret water reports, but the available information is oriented toward safe drinking water, rather than adapting soil and fetilizers.

I'm just starting on my first container of 5:1:1, so doing all the research to understand both *what* to do and *why*. In that spirit, I wonder if some experienced grower might be willing to post a short guide to intepreting city water reports. I'm based in San Diego, so trying to intepret a report on Physical, Mineral, and Metal Characteristics or the overall annual drinking water quality report.

I see sentences like this one, which look very informative, but I don't have enough understanding to know how I would adjust my soil or fertilizer accordingly:

"Typically, drinking water in San Diego averages about 15.4 grains per gallon (gr/gal) or 263 parts per million (ppm), and depending upon water demand and area of the City you live can range from 13.4 to 19.0 gr/gal or 229 to 325 ppm."

Thanks in advance for your insight!

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clipped on: 11.22.2013 at 01:11 pm    last updated on: 11.22.2013 at 01:11 pm

Patio vine, round berries, tiny white and yellow flowers

posted by: Oscarmatic on 11.22.2013 at 11:40 am in Name That Plant Forum

This poor bug-eaten plant came with the new patio, and I would like to know more about it before digging it out.

This plant has a central stem about two feet high, cut or broken at that point, with long trailing branches. It has a few clusters of tiny white flowers and a few clusters of small blue-black berries. It's so bug-eaten, I almost can't tell the leaf shape; leaves appear to be oval with pointy tips, dark green with pale green veining.

The soil looks like it might be old potting mix, so I would guess this started life in a nursery. Which makes me think it might be something useful or interesting.

Many thanks for your suggestions.

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clipped on: 11.22.2013 at 11:53 am    last updated on: 11.22.2013 at 11:53 am

Container size & shape for raspberries

posted by: Oscarmatic on 11.22.2013 at 02:39 am in Container Gardening Forum

Hi! I'm grateful for the fantastic advice and information from the generous gardeners on this forum. Thanks so much for the information I've already gathered from the forum archives. Next week, I'm planning to mix up my first batch of 5:1:1 mix and (after the lime finishes reacting) buy and pot my first bababerries to go on the patio.

I'm planting in containers in part because of the potential invasiveness of the berries and in part because this house is a rental and I will likely want to take the berries with me if I move. This is in San Diego, Sunset zone 24.

Because of the effort involved in making the 5:1:1 mix, I would like to use the minimum needed for the berries to thrive, and enough to give me at least two years before repotting. I've attached a sketch of where the raspberry container will be placed. I hope to build a decorative rectangular container the width of the space (4.5 to 5 feet). So the question on container size is really one of depth and height. Is a 5'x1'x1' container reasonable? Or 5'x1'x2'?

Perhaps a better way of asking the question is: How many bababerry plants can thrive in 10 cu ft of 5:1:1 mix in a rectangular 5'x1'x2' container?

And while I'm planning the container, will raspberries grow better in round vs square containers? Does container shape affect their growth?

Thanks!

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clipped on: 11.22.2013 at 02:39 am    last updated on: 11.22.2013 at 02:39 am

Orange cutie floating in my pond today: Potato Bug

posted by: Oscarmatic on 11.14.2013 at 01:50 am in Garden Clinic Forum

This orange six-legged cutie was floating in the pond today, playing dead. When I poked him with a leaf, he tried to grasp it, so I manoeuvred him over to the shallow edge. He crawled out a bit and sunned a while. Later in the day, he was again doing the dead-man float in the pond; when the floating flower island came near, he climbed on and sunned himself a while there.

In the photo below, you can see the honeybee who has come to have a drink at the pond and provide a scale. I first thought this orange guy was a nearly mature dragonfly nymph, but a subsequent look at online photos shows my mystery bug has legs too long and abdomen too short.

My online search tells me it is a Jerusalem cricket (or "potato bug"). Some people love them; some people loathe them. So, friend? foe? Where do you fall?

Here is a link that might be useful: Some people REALLY don't like potato bugs.

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clipped on: 11.14.2013 at 01:51 am    last updated on: 11.14.2013 at 01:51 am

Floating impatiens island in pond

posted by: Oscarmatic on 11.14.2013 at 12:39 am in Impatiens Forum

Hello! I'm new to GardenWeb, and working on a big pond rehabilitation project (posting mostly over at the Ponds & Aquatic Plants Forum). I wanted to share with the Impatiens Forum a small success in the pond: a floating island of impatiens.

This pond is at my parents' house, and earlier this month it was coming up on the step-mother's birthday. "Will the pond have flowers?" she asked. The water hyacinth are months from blooming, and with a birthday near there was nothing for it but to find some flowers. I wanted to do something quick and easy, but creative and useful. I love impatiens and find them pleasant and reliable. I picked up a few six-packs of Impatiens walleriana from the local hardware store, along with two six-packs of alyssum, Lobularia maritima.

The flowers are supported in an old filter mat I cut holes in. I used a piece of 3/4" pipe to guide each rinsed root ball through the scratchy filter material without getting torn up; I pushed the pipe up through a hole in the mat, stuffed the root ball in the pipe, and pulled the pipe back out the way it came. The filter mat is sitting on a 1/4" mesh screen supported by foam. The flowers' bare roots are hanging in the water, mostly smushed between the filter mat and the mesh screen. I filled in with 3/4" gravel and floated the island on the top pool of the pond, in half-shade.

A week-and-a-half on, the impatiens are looking lovely. There are new flower buds growing and opening, and a few roots reaching down through the screen into the pond. (The alyssum are not looking as happy as the impatiens.)

I saw in the archives a few posts from people successfully growing impatiens in ponds, and wanted to add this success story to the library. Below is a photo from the freshly placed island, and I'll post below that another photo from today. I will keep you posted how the impatiens do in the coming months.

Here is a link that might be useful: More details about the whole pond and the project

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clipped on: 11.14.2013 at 12:39 am    last updated on: 11.14.2013 at 12:39 am

How to save the plants, nymphs, and good-guys while pond is dry

posted by: Oscarmatic on 11.13.2013 at 06:53 pm in Ponds & Aquatic Plants Forum

As part of the on-going renovation of the backyard pond (more details in the link below), we will be draining the pond for approximately two weeks while we patch concrete, trim landscaping, clear muck, and tinker with the pipes. This pond has a thriving natural ecosystem, and I would like to preserve and restore as much of that as possible. Three things in particular to save:

-- The mulm at the bottom is home to many (many!) dragonfly and damselfly nymphs. They mature into beautiful adults, and are a lovely addition the garden. How can I preserve some of the nymphs to seed back into the pond?

-- I've cleared and divided a matted tangle of reeds and taro, which are now awaiting transplant into gravel bins for placement in the stream. How best to keep the plants healthy and happy for two weeks out of the pond?

-- As I mentioned in my post about backwashing the filter, I am guessing there is beneficial microbial action happening somewhere in the filter system. Should I try to save some of the filter medium from the Triton or the intake pipe to jump-start the filter when we turn it back on?

The option I'm working on now is a big tub of pond water in the shade with the taro, reed, and a few nymphs. We're having an unseasonably warm November in San Diego, so I wonder about it getting too hot. I also wonder if the water will need aeration, or will be ok sitting still.

Suggestions and ideas are much appreciated.

Here is a link that might be useful: Introduction to The Pond Project

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clipped on: 11.13.2013 at 06:54 pm    last updated on: 11.13.2013 at 06:54 pm

Schefflera: scale, soot, curling leaves

posted by: Oscarmatic on 11.13.2013 at 04:51 pm in Garden Clinic Forum

Can this Schefflera be saved? Should it be?

This old Schefflera is growing in the ground outside in a shady, enclosed courtyard area in inland San Diego, zone 23. It's putting on lots of new growth and even may be budding a flower or two. But it also seems to be afflicted by several problems at once. The older leaves (but not the new growth) are covered in black soot. There are scales on the top and bottom of many older leaves. And some of the new leaves are growing in tightly curled.

Advice? Suggestions? Options?

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clipped on: 11.13.2013 at 04:51 pm    last updated on: 11.13.2013 at 04:51 pm

Tall, straight tree with serrated alternate leaves

posted by: Oscarmatic on 11.13.2013 at 04:02 pm in Name That Plant Forum

Hello. I would like to identify a suburban backyard tree presumably planted there by someone, but possibly a volunteer. It is growing moderately well in inland San Diego, zone 23 -- a bit yellow from thirst at the moment. It may be deciduous and dropping its leaves for winter, but it's currently 97F (so what does winter even mean here? ;-). No one remembers seeing flowers or fruit on the tree, but that could be a product of neglect.

The tree stands over 10 feet tall. The trunk is single, straight, approx 3.5" diameter at the base and 2" diameter at 5'. The bark is gray, crackled on the lower half, smoother on the top half. The leaves are oval, serrated, veined, approx 1.5" to 2" long and growing alternate.

It's difficult to take a photo of the tree shape, as the foliage blends right in with the neighbor's tree over the fence. The overall shape is generally round.

Any other details helpful for an ID? Many thanks for your help!

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clipped on: 11.13.2013 at 04:03 pm    last updated on: 11.13.2013 at 04:03 pm

Backwashed the Triton II

posted by: Oscarmatic on 11.12.2013 at 01:53 pm in Ponds & Aquatic Plants Forum

Next in the continuing pond rehabilitation project...

With some trepidation, we took a weekend to research the pond pump and filter and do the first backwash in years. Of course nothing is labelled, but the piping nicely matched the diagrams in the manuals I found online for the Triton II and the backwash valve. And luckily, none of the valves were stuck.

With the state of the pond -- clear water, heavy organic build-up, and huge algae growth -- I was expecting sludge and grosser from the backwash drain. To my mild disappointment, the water ran nearly clear, with some suspended green and brown bits. We ran the backwash for a minute, until I had the feeling we were just wasting water as it flowed downhill (toward the citrus trees, at least).

While the pump was off, we took the opportunity to check out the condition of the filter medium. Happily, we discovered the old Triton II pool filter is not using sand, as it would in a swimming pool installation. The filter media appear to be 1/2" (or so) ceramic or stone spheres. (I wish I had remembered to take a photo of it, when we drew some up, but we were just focused on the job.)

With no gunky outflow, and no apparent filter media disasters, I suspected the backwash had been a bust. Until I checked out the pond and waterfall with everything flowing again. Water flow is up 300%! By that measure, it was a success.

The placid pool at the top where I was sheltering feeder goldfish had become a swift rapid, which took at least one goldfish over the falls before I could hastily rig up a higher, wider gravel barrier. The waterfall was splashing wider, and the overall pond water level was higher. A parent observed: "Oh, right, *that's* how it used to look." In each pool, the faster water flow carved a path in the sediment on the bottom, stirring up great clouds of muck and turning the water dark and cloudy. (Sadly, this left the feeder fish gasping for air. By the time I had read enough of GW archives to understand what was happening and why, it was too late for them.)

Following the recommendation in the manual, we were very careful to use the air bleeder valve to get all the air out of the system when we restarted the pump. The pressure gauge on top of the filter dropped from 30 PSI pre-backwash to just under 20 PSI immediately after. One week later, the PSI is creeping back up to 27 or so. I suspect we would have to backwash regularly to maintain clarity, flow, and low pressure -- but we've now decided to temporarily drain the pond for other reasons, so I'll post about that in a separate thread.

Below is a side-by-side photo comparison of the flow over the water fall before and after the backwash. On the bottom, you can see the difference in the height of the gravel/lava rock barrier at the top of the waterfall.

Here is a link that might be useful: About the project

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clipped on: 11.12.2013 at 01:54 pm    last updated on: 11.12.2013 at 01:54 pm

Pomegranate espalier for privacy in a narrow strip against fence

posted by: Oscarmatic on 11.12.2013 at 11:04 am in Fruit & Orchards Forum

(I'm cross-posting from the "Plants for Difficult Places" forum, because there's not much activity there and this is also fruit tree question.)

Hi! I'm rehabilitating a pond and its surrounding plantings. It would be nice to add a planting between the pond and the fence to screen from the neighbor's windows.

We are in inland San Diego, Sunset zone 23 -- so no thirsty plants. I prefer something fruiting or floral, rather than evergreen. It should have a root system that won't be likely to damage or invade the concrete pond. It's too much to expect, but a tidy plant would reduce the amount of skimming to do in the pond. (We can dream!) The picture below shows the available planting area. The existing tree and philodendron will move, as will the low bush and vines. The screening is really only needed on the right side, but I'm inclined to either plant something wide or plant two for balance.

What do the experienced growers here think of trying an espalier pomegranate in this space? Or, could it be worthwhile to try to prune the old avocado tree to screen over the fence?

Suggestions and strong opinions are very much welcome!

Here is a link that might be useful: Also on

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clipped on: 11.12.2013 at 11:05 am    last updated on: 11.12.2013 at 11:05 am

Chamomile: Which bit is the seed?

posted by: Oscarmatic on 11.10.2013 at 02:02 am in Seed Saving Forum

I have harvested my first seeds -- chamomile -- and I can't properly separate the seed from the chaff because I haven't the faintest idea which bit is seed and which bits are chaff. The flower heads stayed on the plant until thoroughly dry, and now it all crumbles easily together.

The photo below shows a two intact buds and the contents of two other crumbled buds, minus the stems. Can someone help me identify the bits to save?

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clipped on: 11.10.2013 at 02:04 am    last updated on: 11.10.2013 at 02:04 am

Seeds everywhere I look

posted by: Oscarmatic on 11.10.2013 at 01:10 am in Seed Saving Forum

The garden made a liar of me. Having finished a marathon archive-reading session on this forum and browsing the overwhelming possibilities of the seed exchange forum, I humbly wrote a note to bakemom to introduce myself as a newbie and ask: "please could I have some seeds although I have nothing yet to offer back." Except... inspired by this forum, I walked through the garden with a new set of eyes. And wouldntchaknowit -- there are seeds everywhere!

The chamomile, the jacaranda, the bushy perennial daisy, the green spiky one, the wild ruffly one…. All seeding and just waiting for someone to notice and help make new green growing things.

I don’t actually know the names of most of what’s going to seed out back. And for some of it, I can’t even tell the seed from the chaff. (I’m looking at you, chamomile.) As I sort it out, I’ll update my member page and hope that any of this proves useful to any of you. In the meantime, I'm just delighted.

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clipped on: 11.10.2013 at 01:10 am    last updated on: 11.10.2013 at 01:10 am

Pomegranate espalier for privacy in a narrow strip against fence

posted by: Oscarmatic on 11.09.2013 at 11:15 pm in Plants for Difficult Places Forum

Hi! I'm rehabilitating a pond and its surrounding plantings. It would be nice to add a planting between the pond and the fence to screen from the neighbor's windows.

We are in inland San Diego, Sunset zone 23 -- so no thirsty plants. I prefer something fruiting or floral, rather than evergreen. It should have a root system that won't be likely to damage or invade the concrete pond. It's too much to expect, but a tidy plant would reduce the amount of skimming to do in the pond. (We can dream!) The picture below shows the available planting area. The existing tree and philodendron will move, as will the low bush and vines. The screening is really only needed on the right side, but I'm inclined to either plant something wide or plant two for balance.

What do the experienced growers here think of trying an espalier pomegranate in this space? (Be honest if I'm just crazy.)

Alternately, would a trellis extension on the fence and a fruiting or flowering vine be a better option?

Suggestions and strong opinions are very much welcome!

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clipped on: 11.09.2013 at 11:15 pm    last updated on: 11.09.2013 at 11:16 pm

Success! Rotting matted mess pulled out and divided

posted by: Oscarmatic on 11.07.2013 at 02:30 pm in Ponds & Aquatic Plants Forum

It was a couple weeks of stinky, muddy work, but finally the massive tangle of plants in pond 5 are out! I'm planning to put as many as I can right back where they came from, but with strong healthy root systems that the water will flow *through*. Phew!

Here's what we started with:

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clipped on: 11.07.2013 at 02:30 pm    last updated on: 11.07.2013 at 02:31 pm

Ornamental bog grasses in tubs from a big-box store

posted by: Oscarmatic on 11.07.2013 at 02:23 pm in Name That Plant Forum

Hi. These two tubs of ornamental grasses hung out for a couple years in a small pool at the top of a waterfall. Whatever labelling there was is long gone, and I'm hoping to figure out if these will have a place in the rehabilitated pond.

This picture was taken after I cleared out most of the volunteers who had taken up cohabitation, including water mint and water cress. The grass did well enough in this environment for a while, so I am guessing it's a wetland or bog grass.

Thanks for your help!

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clipped on: 11.07.2013 at 02:24 pm    last updated on: 11.07.2013 at 02:24 pm

12'+ tree or shrub with clusters of red berries

posted by: Oscarmatic on 11.07.2013 at 02:11 pm in Name That Plant Forum

Hi! I'm rehabilitating a neglected pond and it's landscaping, and step one is figuring out just what it is I have to work with. Some of the landscaping predates the current owners, so we don't always have reliable information. The garden is inland San Diego, Sunset zone 23.

This is a landscaped tree or shrub growing tall in a tiny one-foot space between the fence and a wooden retaining wall. It is at least 12' tall, and possibly 8' wide. It's hard to tell if this is multiple plants, one plant with multiple trunks, or a main trunk with something else entirely growing alongside.

The bright green oval leaves are set opposite. Right now it has many clusters of bright red berries with little black dots on the ends.

(The photo below also shows the neighbor's olive trees behind.)

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clipped on: 11.07.2013 at 02:13 pm    last updated on: 11.07.2013 at 02:13 pm

Can I safely transplant this palm?

posted by: Oscarmatic on 11.07.2013 at 01:24 am in Palms & Cycads Forum

Hello! I'm in the midst of a pond rehabilitation project, and am looking now at the edge landscaping. There is an existing palm in place, looking a bit lonesome at the moment. I wonder if the very helpful palmers at this forum can help with identifying this plant and giving some advice on its care. In particular, I wonder if it might be safe to transplant the whole thing to a better location around the pond. And, what a "better" location might be, in terms of helping this palm thrive?

Many thanks!

(This photo was taken in 9 AM sunlight in November. The fence behind it is to the east.)

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clipped on: 11.07.2013 at 01:24 am    last updated on: 11.07.2013 at 01:24 am

New member introduction

posted by: Oscarmatic on 11.06.2013 at 02:02 am in Ponds & Aquatic Plants Forum

Hi! I'm a new ponder, but starting to rehabilitate an pond that's been in place at least 15 years. I've been reading for weeks through all the posts, and I thought I might take a moment to introduce myself and my project.

There's lots of unknowns about this pond! It came with the house when my parents bought it more than 15 years ago. They've had various pond consultants in to do various things at various times, but they summarize with "we're not really gardeners". They had some lovely koi several years ago, but between local predators and a pump mishap, they died out and the pond has been circulating and supporting reed, taro, watercress, dragonflies, and bees for years. We are in Sunset zone 23 (USDA 10) in San Diego, so it's a year-round pond.

What we do know... The pond is concrete with mortared-in rocks and boulders. It's built to take advantage of the natural hillside slope, with various size pools over 6 cascading tiers. The top pool (1) is smallish, with a waterfall into the deepest large pool (2), then a cascade of three small shallow pools (3, 4, 5) into the bottom largest pool (6). There is no skimmer, but a t-pipe just off the bottom of pool 6. The pump runs water through a Triton II filter before returning back up the hill to the pond inflow in pool 1. There is a trickle-fill valve with float that tops up the pond from the municipal supply (Ph 8+, chloramine). The pond water is clear, and tested Ph 8.5, no ammonia, nitrates, or nitrites.

The pond was last drained and cleaned at least four years ago. Since then, it has built up quite a layer of muck. The plants are thriving, but are well overgrown and tangled together. Bordering plants include fast-spreading bamboo, a pine tree, the neighbor's tree that drops fruit vaguely like olives, and some other typical marginal plants. The backyard also supports two large exuberant dogs.

The goal for the pond is casual enjoyment and low maintenance. While the parents say they would like to have koi again, I suspect they would be just as happy with some fancy goldfish. But all of that can wait, as I take this project forward one step at a time. A few things on the to-do list and in progress:
-- Dividing and thinning the reeds, taro, and cress so their roots are open enough to work as a bio-filter. Right now, the roots are so tangled and compacted, the water flows over the top.
-- Clearing the muck from the bottom.
-- Planting and floating more water-filtering plants, such as water hyacinth and watercress.
-- Backwashing and checking the filter. (No one remembers the last time it was done; at least years.)
-- Cleaning up the leaves and messy landscaping around the pond to prevent more material falling in.
-- Find a way to estimate the volume of the pond.
-- Having fun, experimenting, and learning.

I look forward to hearing your suggestions and sharing my progress. Thanks already to everyone who has been posting and discussing for the years before I got here, to provide these helpful archives!

Here are some photos of the pond: http://www.flickr.com/photos/the-sweeneys/sets/72157637365396295/detai l/

Here is a link that might be useful: Photos of The Pond Project

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clipped on: 11.06.2013 at 02:07 am    last updated on: 11.06.2013 at 02:07 am