Outdoor Patio Pond – Part 1

So I’ve been wanting to try an outdoor plastic tote pond for a while now, but our last apartment didn’t really have a good place to set one up. Luckily since moving to Illinois we now have a small backyard plot with a cement patio area. So I went to the local big box store and picked up a small clear plastic bin to experiment with. It is roughly 1ft by 18in and approximately 5 or 6in deep. I processed some organic potting mix by leaving it to soak in a 5 gallon bucket for a few days and separated out the majority of the “floaty bits.”

Then I prepared the bin (tote) by rinsing it out with water and poking a series of holes in the clear lid. My thinking was to keep the lid on to help prevent mosquitos from laying eggs in the water. This turned out to be a bad idea, as you will see.
So now I was ready. I put an inch or so thick layer of the moist dirt in the bin and filled it with water. Mistake number one: I didn’t allow time for the suspended potting mix to settle before adding the frogbit. I put a few frogbit plants in the water and put the lid on (mistake number two). I then put the bin out on the porch in direct sunlight and ignored it for a couple of days (mistake number three).

Below is a before and after comparison of first setting up the bin and the result a couple of days later.

Here the bin is freshly set up. So much promise!
As you can see, nearly all of the frogbit is dead. In fact the one in the middle was added right before taking the photo, so really it was all killed.

No good. I think what happened was a combination of two, maybe three things. One, the frogbit cooked. The combination of the dark muddy water, direct sunlight, and poor ventilation caused the frogbit to die from overheating. Two, the unsettled mud water may have choked out the plants. Three, it may have been too much of a shock to the plant to go from relatively low nutrient water to super saturated, high nutrient mud water. There’s a reason you don’t plant your potted plants in raw fertilizer (besides the smell I mean).

So that didn’t go well, but there is hope!

New plant is still alive! Hallelujah!

Today the newly added plant is still alive and well. It has survived the first 24 hours without melting. This time the water had a chance to settle, and I left the lid off.

Let’s hope it continues to do well and spread!

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