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My Unexpected Frog Pond

 
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Autumn update. Mid-November has brought us frosty nights and mild, sunny days. The frogs come out in afternoon to sun themselves. The water lily leaves are turning as the plants prepare to go dormant for the winter.



The pond water is crystal clear.



Lots of leaves and sludge on the bottom. I'll have to take a look into how to deal with it; how much to remove and how often to keep the pond from filling up.

After a slow start, the duckweed has flourished, although it doesn't multiply as rapidly as some sources say it does.



There are multiple uses for duckweed, and I understand it makes excellent mulch and compost. Here's another use for it.









It's a great treat for our Muscovy ducks. I fear if they every discover the frog pond, they'll wipe it out! Fortunately, the frog pond is on one side of the goat barn and the poultry yard is on the other. So for now, my duckweed is safe.
 
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In my climate, when it gets too cold, the pondweed sinks under the water. Then in the spring it will come back up. I don't know the mechanism and whether it's only temperature or if day length is also a factor, so please keep an eye on it and tell me what it does? I think temp is the key and I'm not sure how cold you get in your location.
 
Leigh Tate
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Jay, I didn't know that about duckweed! I know my hornwort sinks when it goes dormant, and last winter I seemed to "lose" duckweed, so maybe that was why. It also seemed to disappear after heavy rains. I'll observe it as our weather shifts it really-cold mode and report back here.
 
Leigh Tate
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Yesterday, we had our annual snow event, and, for us, it was a doozy! In the 13 years my husband and I have lived here, our record homestead snow is 7.5 inches back in January 2011. Yesterday, we came just a quarter-inch shy of that, at least in measurable snow. I'm not sure how much precip we got before the rain turned to snow, nor how much melted because the ground wasn't frozen.

Anyway! For the first time since we've had it, our frog habitat froze over.

Frozen frog pond, close-up

Frozen frog pond, a few steps back

It's comforting to know that the bottom of the pond is filled with mud, leaves, dormant duckweed, and spreading hornwort. I'm thinking that our frogs are about as comfortable as they can be.

We're supposed to get up to melting temps today, with a forecast for our coldest nights so far this winter.

In other pond news, I ordered more pond plants yesterday: blue flags, pickerel, and creeping jenny. The blue flag and jenny will go in the concrete block chinampa. I plan to put the pickerel in the mud mound in front of the chinampa, after I border it with block too, to keep the mud in place. I'd really like to see those filled with pond plants.
 
Jay Angler
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Thank you for tucking in your frogs for the cold snap!

We've had atypical cold and snow here, followed shortly after by a day that was +10C. I couldn't believe it, but I hear a frog calling! They're just waiting for spring.
 
Leigh Tate
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Jay, just a day or two before, when we were preparing for the weather, I took a good look at the pond. The water was clear and I could see the bottom covered with lots of leaves and plants. I admit I tend to worry about my frogs, but nature seems to have the best way of keeping them tucked away in the extreme cold. Probably a better job than I could do! lol
 
Jay Angler
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You tucked them in by *leaving* those sunken leaves - too often the pond experts here tell you to clear the leaves out of the pond in the fall, and then there's no insulation for the critters that need it! Less "working" makes for a healthier pond.
 
Leigh Tate
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Good point! What I'm discovering, is that the pond experts don't understand permaculture and the natural processes. I'm doing everything "wrong" with my pond, according to them, but the frogs and dragon flies are happy, and that's what counts!
 
Leigh Tate
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One week ago today, we had freezing rain, snow, and ice. The temp never got above freezing. One week later, it's sunny and 51F (10C)! The weather is beautiful. The water is clear in the pond and the duckweed seems to come back to life. I heard one frog splash as I approached the pond.



The round leaves in the above photo are underwater. They're a slew of pond lily leaves!

I know winter isn't over, but it was a treat to see things going well in the frog pond.
 
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I accidentally ruined my mini frog pond, by throwing in a handful of minnows, to help eat the mosquito larvae. Any ideas on undoing that damage?
 
Jay Angler
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Carla Burke wrote:I accidentally ruined my mini frog pond, by throwing in a handful of minnows, to help eat the mosquito larvae. Any ideas on undoing that damage?

Oh dear!
Need more info:
1. according to google: " any of various small fishes, especially those of the carp family, Cyprinidae." - do you have any idea what version of minnow?  Did you catch them locally, or are they a foreign species?
2. are they still in the mini-pond?
3. can you describe "ruined" any better? Water quality, ate all the plants, reduced the oxygen etc.

 
Carla Burke
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Just minnows from the local bait&tackle shop. My frog left. There are still loads of frogs in the pond - but, the one in the tub in question seemed like he felt insulted, and left. The water is clear, the leaves in the bottom are good - but the water plants in that tub - and only that tub - are dead. Gimme a sec and I'll add a pic or 2
 
Leigh Tate
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Jay Angler wrote:

Carla Burke wrote:I accidentally ruined my mini frog pond, by throwing in a handful of minnows, to help eat the mosquito larvae. Any ideas on undoing that damage?

Oh dear!
Need more info:


I agree with Jay! Carla, can you tell us more what happened? Can you describe the damage?

Tadpoles and dragonflies eat all of my mosquito larvae. The frogs showed up on their own; all I've done has been to introduce plants. In the water, I've got hornwort, duckweed, and hardy pond lilies, and they keep the water clean and clear, which I understand is a sign of ecological balance.
 
Carla Burke
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Here's my little frog, his water plants(nope - no idea what kind), and if you look closely - some dead minnows floating around. This was about the last time it all looked good. Shortly after, my frog left, and the plants started dying... All the plants are dead, now.
20210806_112831.jpg
tiny frog pond in container with water plants
 
Jay Angler
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I'm guessing not enough oxygen. That's the common reason for small fish to die - fish can use up the oxygen really fast in a small amount of water if there isn't artificial bubbling happening, or a *really* high level of oxygen producing plants vs fish.
 
Carla Burke
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So, I need to add more plants? I didn't know, at the time, that fish and amphibians don't mix, in small spaces. I found the plants quite by accident, last spring, at a church sale, and was blown away by how they just took off. I only bought 3(it was all they had), and within a few short weeks, this tub was full, and so are several others, around the yard. But, this was the only one that drew a frog. Lots of dragonflies... but only the one frog.
 
Leigh Tate
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I ordered more pond plants and they arrived today. It rained hard yesterday, so the water is murky and the level is high at the moment.

creeping jenny


pickerel to be planted


The creeping jenny is a cascading bog plant. I managed to get those planted, but then it threatened rain again, so the pickerel will have to wait. I plan to plant them in front of the chinampa.

I hope my irises bloom this year!

It's hard to see, but there's a mound of dirt there that stays moist even when the water level is down. I'll either have to do some wading to plant them, or wait until the water isn't so high.

The water lilies are starting to put out leaves, and the duckweed is beginning to grow. Last month when the water cleared in between rains, I could see how much the hornwort haS grown and spread.

Can you see it? Submerged hornwort.

I started with three sprigs of hornwort from the aquarium store. The frogs use it to dive under any time we approach the pond.

In my mind, I envision beautiful pond plants everywhere. I'm just not there yet!
 
Leigh Tate
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Summer of Year 2. The pickerel rush I planted last April is blooming! That was a pleasant surprise. Plus, we have over a dozen dragonflies playing daily at the pond. The tree frogs sing every night, and sometimes the pond frogs serenade us.

frog-pond_pickerel-rush.JPG
Pickerel rush blooming
Pickerel rush blooming
frog-pond_blue-dragonfly.JPG
A blue dragonfly on a pickerel leaf.
A blue dragonfly on a pickerel leaf.
frog-pond_white-dragonfly.JPG
A white dragonfly on the pool wall.
A white dragonfly on the pool wall.
May2022pix4.JPG
Water lily and frog.
Water lily and frog.
 
Leigh Tate
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Spotted:

Newly emerged dragonfly on a pickerel leaf.


Empty shell.


Pickerel patch.


Pickerel flower spikes.
 
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Leigh Tate wrote:Spotted:

Empty shell.


Is that from a dragonfly larvae? I found a couple of those recently at the base of my pine trees, no ponds around. Figured they were something like Cicadeas, dragonfly wouldn't have even occurred to me. If so, great news!
 
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Coydon Wallham wrote:Is that from a dragonfly larvae? I found a couple of those recently at the base of my pine trees, no ponds around. Figured they were something like Cicadeas, dragonfly wouldn't have even occurred to me. If so, great news!


Yes! I found a blog where someone photographed the emergence in progress. -> https://eastglamwildlife.blogspot.com/2015/07/four-spotted-dragonfly-emerging-from.html
Dragonflies are often found near ponds and water, but I have no idea if all varieties need it or how much. Pretty amazing, isn't it?
 
Coydon Wallham
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Wow, so your first picture found the creature just after it emerged?

Hmm, less the wings and with more hair, I think that's what I look like every morning as I climb out of my camping hammock.  Those little strings left behind are extremely weird. I'm glad to have them around regardless...
 
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on the skins from cicada larvae, the front legs are crazy claw things. that’s the main visible difference. the ‘crazy claw thing’ that the dragonfly larvae have is folded up under the body…

just more things to image-search if you’re of a mind.
 
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Early autumn update. We've had the frog pond for about two years now.

My frog pond after a September rain heavy enough to cover the chinampa.

The pond lilies are beginning to go dormant, but the duckweed is thriving. The four little sprigs of hornwort that I got from the aquarium store (pic in my very first post) have grown and grown and now fill the pond.

Hornwort with bits of duckweed in it.

I'm sure the frogs love it, but to keep it from overcrowding everything, I pull out bunches with a rake and take it to the poultry yard.

Free food for ducks, chickens, and turkeys

All our birds love it and there's a lot of grabbing and chasing whenever we bring them some. We continue to bring them scoops of duckweed from time to time too.

The water level didn't get as low this past summer as it did the previous year. I'm sure this has something to do with rainfall, but also, I'm assuming the lilies and duckweed covered the water surface enough to slow down evaporation on hot days.

The water in the pond remains quite clear under all the plant growth. The frogs are slowing down as it gets cooler, but they're out to sun themselves by day. So I'm pretty confident to say that all is well.
 
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Leigh Tate wrote:
Dragonflies are often found near ponds and water, but I have no idea if all varieties need it or how much. Pretty amazing, isn't it?


Isn't the wildlife around a pond fascinating?
All dragonflies and damselflies need water to breed. Most species have a longer aquatic life than a life as the adult, flying individuals. Some live 2-3 years as larvae in the water and only a couple of weeks outside to mate. In my little pond there are at least three different species using it for breeding.
The larvae of the big species (like in your picture) are hunters and always hungry. They can decimate amphibe life (tadpoles) massively which of course only is an issue if there are little amphibes (like in many parts of Germany which makes it necessary to create new ponds to avoid getting those huge carnivorous dragonfly larvae).
 
Anita Martin
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This video was in my suggestion list of Youtube and it is not only beautiful but inspirational as well.
It is about building a wildlife pond and how it developed in the first year. There are also useful tips on how to get excessive nutrients out of the water with the help of willow saplings.
So if you are not sure about adding a pond watch this and make it a plan for next year!


Edited to add: As I have got the impression from some threads that people are unsure about frog species, I stumbled across these very interesting listings of amphibian species which I might have shared before. For me as an amphibian lover it is great to see those beautiful and totally foreign species like marbled salamanders or creatures like "mudpuppy" or "hellbender"!
Amphibian species NY
Amphibians of New England

In Europe we have far less species not only due to recent extinctions but because many many species were lost during the Ice Ages as our main mountain range runs east-west and did not leave escape corridors for migrating species.
 
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What a delight your pond has become.

I want one!😊

I didn’t see it mentioned, but lotus might like it in your pond.  If the pond has water year round, and the bottom of the pond does not freeze, there’s a good chance.

I have long wanted to grow one, but haven’t had a chance yet.

It might depend on the variety or species, there are taller and shorter ones, but they tolerate fluctuating water levels and make an iconic flower, a seed pod that florists use, and EDIBLE ROOTS.  Perfect permie plant, stacking functions!
 
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what an awesome journey of investigation with observation, that leads to inspiration, for you, and now me. likely for many others as well.

the process, over time, encourages me to make it happen.  

we purchased last year and there is a spot that was a small pool, now filled in. my thought was to dig it out and start a pond. now it's more than a thought. i will have to convince wifey, "no way there will be too many mosquitos". still, it won't happen till next year as there are many other projects for this year. it's on of the list of things i hope to have when i get most of the poly culture around the rest of the property set up and all i have to do is listen to the chorus and watch it grow . getting to the age where it's time for that. i'm hoping by the time i'm 80 it will be a jungle of abundance.

my only concern is depth, we hit -32 this winter. brrr.  but, that's a bridge to cross another day.

thanks again for all the wonderful insights.

cheers   james
 
Anita Martin
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James, if you are concerned for amphibes because of the low temperature you can relax. Different types of ponds and puddles are valuable for amphibes. Some frogs stay on the bottom of a pond in winter, most hibernate in some hole or loose soil. The frogs will mostly know by instinct if it is safe to stay in the water in winter.

As to frost and your structure, I cannot tell.
 
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Two years ago I planted some blue flag iris roots in my chinampa. They only grew leaves last year, but this month they bloomed! I was thrilled to see that.

Blue flag blooming. Also in the picture, pickerel, creeping jenny, and duckweed.

Shortly afterward, the pickerel started blooming too.

Pickerel and duckweed. The vine is kudzu.

I don't have any frog pics yet this summer, but they're there.

I have a story too.

The other day I was hanging laundry to dry on the line (my clothesline is next to the frog pond). All of a sudden, I heard a loud SPLASH! It was too big a splash for a frog, so I couldn't imagine what it was. I rushed to look into the pond and discovered one of our cats frantically swimming round in the deep end of the pond. He seemed a tad disoriented and I couldn't reach him, so I ran to the shallow end and called his name. He swam toward me and leapt out of the pool as soon as he could.

That particular cat loves to sit by the pond and watch the frogs. The only thing I can figure is that he was on the edge of the pool, dozed off, and fell in. He looked very bewildered at his rude awakening, but once I called him he knew to swim toward my voice.

He let me dry him off, but he hid for the rest of the day. The only thing that seemed to be hurt was his feline dignity.
 
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Fascinating discussions on small ponds.  Note on outside soil pressure on walls.  Check the type of soil backfill.  If it is rich in clay, absolutely ensure drainage away from walls and higher water level inside to provide pressure against the walls.  Clay, especially very plastic clay (when wet, try to form a ball.  A highly plastic and often expansive clay will form a tight ball that holds together if dropped.  Gravel or dry silt tends to provide less pressure.  Keep an eye on the vertical crack to see if it widens.  Another way to check if the wall is under outside pressure would be to put a straightedge across it.  If it remains the same from year to year, it is not likely under pressure.

I have a farm pond I built along with my father in the early 60's.  It provides a home for waterfowl, fish and several eagles, Bald, Golden and Osprey.  I use it for water for the garden.  I have a couple of tanks I fill periodically  then use to water plants.  That water is like hitting them with rapid grow.  

It should be remembered that concrete will set under water - actually better than in the air.  If mixed with some micro-silica, it becomes hydraulic cement.  Making a dry mix and placing it in some burlap can hold it in place if pushed against a vertical wall for a day or two.

Phosphorous is difficult to remove from lake or pond sediments.  It tends to tie up in the sediment until the water cleans a bit and then more is released into the water.  This was one reason for the ban on phosphorous fertilizer along the Great Lakes.  It takes a very long time to actually reduce the total phosphorous in the lake due to this natural storage and release mechanism.  Grey water is often best run through a 100 feet of sand if possible.  That way many of the particles get filtered out.  60 years ago, only 50 feet of sand was thought adequate.
 
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On Sunday and Monday we got over 4.5 inches of rain. My frog pool was filled almost to the top.

I've never seen it so full.

Today, I was trimming kudzu by its edge as a treat for the goats. I happened to glance at the water and saw this.

Frog eggs!

There were several clusters of them floating on the water, which I probably wouldn't have noticed if the water level was at it's usual lower height.

Close up. The leaf is a water lily.

Tomorrow I'll try to get a few pics with my macro lens.
 
pollinator
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I really love this story as it is a bit of a neverending succession story from a Pool lost underground to a natural habitat.
Great and sure a life oasis for the surrounding area.

I see its a real Frog pond, yes true it is.

But it is also a home of so many lifes

It is a kitchen for other life forms which will have babies to feed and so much more...
I really love the start of it.. Your words " I didn't expect"

I had the same but other dimensions...

(You know my place to find me: https://permies.com/t/205283/permaculture/long-dream-Thailand-Part)

In my head cinema I saw a 5500 sqm lake which I built this winter..
In my head cinema I have seen myself sitting at the lake "gone fishing", (not much more was expected)...

The first rain was teaching me the same...
One day dry and the other day there was about 1 meter water in the lake..
... just 2 week later I was over the moon.. (queeek, queeek, quek quek quek.... EVERYWHERE !!)
Frogs in all sizes and sound have taken over the lake, tadpoles were quickly seen and the frogs moved also into the artificial River I made as a swale feeding the lake...
Every evening an orchestra turned on the full sound and breaks the silence, making it even more a surreal dream world...

The the grass returned and the frogs got hiding places everywhere and more came and the sound attracted herons and other birds depending on water, snakes and "walking" fishes like striped Snakeheads, stalking around and gorge on the abundance....

I got then as planned fish stocked, but the froggies do not seem to be decimized, they just getting louder and differend sounds getting added...

I realized that the Frogs alone cover the 6 singingvoice levels,
these ranges correspond fully to the following:

High voice                       Medium voice                                           Low voice
Soprano                               Mezzo soprano                                          Alto
Tenor                               Baritone                                                   Bass
They are all there and it is not possible to find all their Names on Google, so I have it my way by calling them the:  
Monserrat Caballe Frog,
the Freddy Mercury Frog
the Luciano Pavarotti Frog - LOL  

I catch myself often now sitting at the water line and dream off somehow like leaving this world into a parallel world, surrounded by natural music.....  

And it happens on MY land, something I could never believe it can happen, 25 years ago as I was living still in Germany

......
IMG-20230328-WA0004.jpg
28th of March, father in law is stunned about the progress we made, and we did him proud. (he said when the rain comes it will be a paradise)
28th of March, father in law is stunned about the progress we made, and we did him proud. (he said when the rain comes it will be a paradise)
336424982_748732103327580_5354679130055304923_n.jpg
29th of March the first rain, (we opened the dams of the rice fields around us which brought a lot of water)
29th of March the first rain, (we opened the dams of the rice fields around us which brought a lot of water)
 
Anita Martin
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See Hes wrote:

I catch myself often now sitting at the water line and dream off somehow like leaving this world into a parallel world, surrounded by natural music.....  

And it happens on MY land, something I could never believe it can happen, 25 years ago as I was living still in Germany

......


Beautiful story! Science says that humans are adapted to a natural world of sounds, smells and shades of green and that man-made surroundings like sky-scraper cities make them sick (even if they think they like it). No wonder you sit and dream in your paradise!
I wish you many happy moments in that dream garden.
 
Leigh Tate
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See, your pond is fantastic! Isn't it amazing how water attracts so much life? I'm seeing so many little critters on and under the water. The dragon flies are back now too; always a favorite.

It's interesting that you mention the frog voices. Yesterday evening I had my window open and was listening to the chorus of frog song. It was so loud! Mostly tree frogs at night. During the day we hear the pond frogs on occasion too.
 
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