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Water way to grow; HOME TRUTHS.

Byline: John Humphries

merely resting.

For much of the summer ponds are likely, without attention, to be covered either in blanket weed, duckweed, or that awful Canadian pondweed.

I have tried most things, including barley straw, a remedy known to farmers after a bale fell off a cart into a mill pond and mysteriously cleared it of algal growth as the straw decomposed.

There are toxic treatments, but these can be expensive depending on the expanse of water to treat. The alternative is mechanical control by dragging out the weed by hand, though even this is unlikely to succeed if left too late in the spring by which time the most HOME TRUTHS John But with the research costs involved in identifying the active ingredient likely to exceed pounds 200,000 in order to satisfy rigorous standards set by the European Union, the potential market is hardly large enough to warrant the expenditure.

invasive aquatics will have made significant growth.

If the plants are cut earlier, however, before the creeping stems make much growth, the period of clear water can last well into August.

Water flow has everything to do with aquatic weed growth.

The more turbulent the water the less growth, especially duckweed, which becomes tangled into small balls and sinks.

Anyone opting for chemical treatment is advised to identify what effect it has upon insect larvae as well as fish, for the last thing a gardener wants is a crystal clear but lifeless pool. The value of barley straw is that it is not known to cause any damage to rooted aquatic plants, zooplankton, insects, or fish.

The most effective way to use barley straw is by stuffing it loosely into an old sack, and then suspending it in the water, allowing the straw to decompose slowly.

Never throw in handfuls of tightly packed straw. In muddy water, two ounces per 10 square feet is all that is needed, half this amount in clearer water.

Too much straw will reduce the oxygen levels and kill any fish.

Straw decomposition takes six weeks in water temperatures below 50F, but only two weeks above 68F. During spring, feed established aquatic plants by using especially prepared water plant fertiliser. These are pushed into the plant baskets so that the nutrients are released where they will be used and not into the water. It is also possible to use bone meal pills: small balls of clay soil with bone meal mixed into them.

Most marginal plants are like herbaceous perennials and in autumn should be cut back. But take care not to cut hollow-stemmed plants below the water level because if the stems become full of water they will perish.

Most floating aquatics produce winter buds during the autumn that fall to the bottom of the pool where they remain until spring sunshine warms the water sufficiently for the plants to return to the surface.

In garden pools, propagation involves nothing more than lifting and dividing plants, discarding unwanted material.

Few aquatics are rarely raised from seed - except the most invasive!

THINGS TO DO THIS WEEK * Dead-head all plants frequently, especially roses, annuals, and tender perennials.

Disbud dahlias and chrysanthemums by removing all but top bud if you want large cut flowers.

Pinch out runner beans when they reach top of canes.

Sow parsley for winter use. * Harvest herbs for drying and storing.

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The more turbulent the water, the less weed growth, says John
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 2, 2011
Words:576
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