Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Bog filter renovation

The bog had really gotten out of hand. I know it was because I had not kept up with cleaning it out, in combination with the previous winter's mild temperatures that left everything green and growing. This year's 24 degrees and other cold periods took care of that. In the upper left you can see the dead jungle of plants 6 feet high, hanging over all sides, and blocking access to the stepping stones. The dogs hunted in it, and I expect at night the raccoons did, too. You can see Cassie wondering where their playground went.

The three worst areas were the umbrella grass island, the green taro peninsula, and the willow tree. Never put these in your bog. At least not bare root and out of a pot. No, wait, not even then. They jump the pots and break them apart and totally disregard them. After all, they have fish poop water going over their roots 24-7. I mean, they are great plants if you can keep them contained. I didn't.

The green taro just sends runners everywhere and new growth pops up like that whack-a-mole game. It had made an intertwined mass several inches thick along with the cannas and other plants. The umbrella grass had made it's own island of decomposed plant matter and what turned out to be the most amazing three foot long red roots. It was such a solid mass that it took 2 guys with power tools and a pickax to get it out. Actually I hired them for a total of 4 hours and most of it was the bog cleanout. They were fromWellspring, and did a great job.

Here are a few pictures of the process. 

 This is the taro area. You can't see rocks or water - all is masses of entwined roots and muck. So much muck. 

 Here we have the umbrella grass island.  It was beautiful in the summers, over 6 feet high with huge circles of leaves like umbrellas, building it's own dirt with all the leaves from my neighbors' huge (female) Arizona ash that hangs over the pond, dropping thousands of seeds and leaves.

The guys are working hard. That stuff does not want to leave.

 The red roots from hell. These were at least 3 feet long, some up to 4 feet. And half as big around as a pencil. That umbrella grass is amazing. And gone from my bog forever. Bwa-ha-ha.

Three years ago I put a pencil sized willow seedling in the bog. Compare the trunk to the pipe fence post beside it.  Three short years of fish poop water.

That was all done a couple of months ago. I have twice since rented the pond society's pond vac and used it to remove a few bushels of muck. Well, before that I removed a few more bushels with my hands, mostly with roots and tubers in them, and spent hours teasing them apart to rescue cannas and butterfly ginger, and a little lizard tail and iris as well. I kept the as-yet unsprouted tubers in wire baskets in the bog where they made it through the 24 degree night that came a week or so after, but the ones I put into another shallow pan of sand and water froze. :( 

I need to take some more pictures for the next post, because last weekend I spent Sunday putting cannas, ginger and lizard tail back into the rocks of the bog. (Along with continuing to dredge muck from the pond proper, with nets. Ouch. Just call me the muckraker.) It was breezy, and the poor plants kept flopping over, so I had to build rock walls around each one to hold them up until the roots can take hold. Note that all of these plants have roots that are not too difficult to remove as needed. I placed them in drifts with room between, and have put a few potted plants in as well. A few black-stemmed taro which are not nearly as invasive as their cousins are in pots, and will stay in pots! I did buy some hydroponic slotted pots for water flow. There is some mint in pots as well, and I will need to keep an eye on that. I may add some corkscrew rush, but I will research any plant type before I use it.

Wow, all that and just about the bog. I will have to talk about the rest of the garden another time. I do have tomatoes and onions doing well, lavish displays of larkspur, and still lots of weed grass to pull. Life goes on in the garden.

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