Saturday, July 31, 2010

Patented Rose Grabber, More Baby Fish

Check out my patented Rose Grabbing Horticultural System:

Rose grabbers

I use one in each hand to grab fly-away bits of climbing roses and pull them down to be woven through the gazebo lattice. Obviously they are not, in fact, actually patented, and the method of manufacture is probably pretty self-explanatory. The only other thing you need to know is that it's best to use those dry cleaner coathangers that have a cardboard tube on the bottom: that way, the prongs that stuck into the tube form a convenient rose pushing platform on the opposite end from the hook. Because when you're engaged in rose-taming, sometimes you have to grab, and sometimes you have to push.

Weary Plants, Happy Fish
Meanwhile, the pond is getting clearer, according to some inexplicable internal agenda of its own. Some days it's murky, and some days it's clear. That's all I know. The plants are all starting to look a bit ragged (except the bulrushes, water hyssop, and water clover. Those guys are stout.) I'm not sure if it's the sustained high pH, my dislike of fertilization, or just the fact of its being practically August in Texas, but there's a lot of yellowing and undersized leaves and caterpillar damage and general whininess going on.

To put it in perspective, mind you, there's a lot of the same going on in the rest of the yard, too. We've had an unusually green and pleasant summer, but we've been consistently in the 90s for over month now, and the plants are starting to feel it. The chitalpa's grown into a giant shaggy monster, but the leaves are looking a bit mottled and dull. The Salvia vanhouttii are bloomless and naked from the knees down. The oak-leaf hydrangea blossoms are dark brown and battered. The red verbena are only blooming fitfully. The rose garden is chlorotic and droopy. And on, and on...

In the pond, though, I'm going to experiment with some remediation. I finally broke down and bought some pond plant fertilizer pellets :-( I really dislike the idea of adding any chemicals to the pond that are not strictly necessary, but all the water lilies--especially 'Colorado'--are looking really puny. So, fine. I'll fertilize the damn things. But I don't like it.

I also bought something called barley pellets at the nursery up the street, Bloomers. The copy on the bag was incredibly unpersuasive (it more or less said, "The peat in the pellets will break down and release hydrogen peroxide, which will cause the peat to break down, which will release hydrogen peroxide, which will cause the peat to break down..." Never explained why I would want hydrogen peroxide in my pond. Do I want hydrogen peroxide in my pond? I just don't know) but other sources have spoken of the mosquito-murdering, algae-defeating properties of barley straw, so here's hoping. We do have a lot of that nasty, stringy kind of algae that makes me think of the warriors' hair in Tolkien's Dead Marshes--whitish, wispy, and sinister. Plus with slime!

But slime and weenie plants notwithstanding, the fish are flourishing. They love it when I stir up the muck, so I did that and threw out some fish food in order to take a Census. All of the adult fish are accounted for, including the 2 shubunkins, and now that the water's clearer and the food made the fish extra friendly, I picked out some more identifying features on them all. Like: Safety First's big orange splodge has a sort of nibble taken out of it on the right side, so it's really shaped like a C, not like a circle. Unlike Big Olaf, Thor has a little white frosting on the top of his dorsal fin. Spooky is smaller than Crazy Eye. Bob's irregular white coloration on his belly comes highest up his sides near his head. Lynn's comes up highest on her sides by her tail. Jupiter and Drusilla are the shyest and sulkiest of the lot, even though Jupiter's head splodge is much nicer than Safety First's--bigger and more regularly ovoid. Big Olaf is about 5-1/2 inches long now!

But the biggest news is that I saw five--five!--orange babies at once. Holy cow. I can't give them all different names--they all look the same. I'll just call them Penelope 1 through 5.

There are also at least two babies with lighter orange sides & bellies that have dark grey streaks down their backs and black fins, and there are at least two dully browny-taupe ones that are really hard to see. I get where the Penelopes came from (perhaps I should have named them after the Sharons in Battlestar Galactica? They keep multiplying and I can't tell them apart or remember which one it was that shot Bill Adama), but the others are a complete mystery. Perhaps some neighbor is dumping his unwanted aquarium overflow in our pond?

At any rate, whatever weirdness is going on with the flora, the fauna are having a rockin' good time.


Anonymous said...

You have definately peaked my interest in the rose grabber. Can't wait to see the photo. Ladonna

Bob said...

I think when you start getting baby fish is when you know you have done things right. You know,all elements in alignment or something like that. I was thinking about the fertilizer thing and can see where you might have to do it now as your pond doesn't have any age on it yet, not enough natural nutrients. We fertilized ours early on but quit after a while when I felt it was more established nd things were working more naturally.

By the way, what color were those Crinum lilies you gave me? They are doing great by the way.

Elgin_house said...

I definitely prefer the laissez-faire approach to pond maintenance, Bob! You give me hope that in time it will be a bit more self-sustaining.

About the crinums, let me think... I think they're either going to be this one, which we think might be C. digweedii, or they might be a pale lilacky-pink like this one, which we think is C. powellii. It may take them a year or two to bloom--small crinum bulbs like those can be a little slow to get off the ground. You'll have to let us know how they turn out.

I finally got the rose grabbers posted Ladonna! Sorry for the delay--my cellphone works in mysterious ways. :-)

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