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Cunning Plan... Frogs, Ponds and Biocontrol
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cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 05 10:50 am    Post subject: Cunning Plan... Frogs, Ponds and Biocontrol  Reply with quote    

Frogs seem to be really good at munching on slugs and various other beasties. They're also cute. So I like them. And I have some sitting at the end of my new allotment plot. The down side is that I want a whole load of manure delivered there, and the frogs (slowly waking up from hibernation, I suspect) have to be moved.

So how about this for an idea. I dig a pond right in the middle of my allotment. A little-ish thing, and I line it with, say, three layers of thick black plastic. I give it a shallow end and a deep end, and I sink stones to the bottom with some earth, for growing watercress in it. I then move the materials the frogs are sheltering in near to the pond, to encourage them to spawn there, and I seed the pond with water and mud from another local pond or lake to get it going microbially.

I then use that as a central point in the allotment, planting fruit bushes around it for shade, and using herb plants as shrubs to give shelter to any amphibian visitors. If I leave, say, bits of broken pot around there too it'll give lots of nice hidey holes.

The pond then works to attract frogs, who then earn their keep by eating slugs. I also get a harvest of watercress from the pond.

No obvious downsides to this plan. What are the hidden, less obvious downsides I've missed?

tahir



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 44283
Location: Essex
PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 05 11:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Watercress needs clean running water for it to be edible.

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 05 11:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

tahir wrote:
Watercress needs clean running water for it to be edible.


You think? I grow it in a bucket most years and haven't poisoned myself yet. You're probably right, though, that a pond with 'things' in it is a different matter. The options then are edible water-fringe plants. If I have a nice shallow end I could sink watermint into it.

Mrs Fiddlesticks



Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 10460

PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 05 11:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

can't see any problems at all - unless there are any odd rules on your site forbidding it ( and I've heard that some sites have some very odd rules - no shed or buildings over a certain height in some places for example )

tahir



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 44283
Location: Essex
PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 05 11:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Cab wrote:
a pond with 'things' in it is a different matter. The options then are edible water-fringe plants. If I have a nice shallow end I could sink watermint into it.


I reckon that's your best bet. What else grows well on the waters edge?

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 05 11:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Lots of things like having their feet wet. Ladys smock and meadowsweet are two of my favourites.

Bugs



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 10744

PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 05 11:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Depending on how open your site is, it might attract people - specifically children - on to your plot. Then you've got two difficulties...they might come to some harm and you could be held responsible for having something that attracts them on there (I'm not sure if this is a myth or not; there could be damage to either your plot or the pond itself.

But I don't think either of those are very likely esp as you intend to surround it with bushes. Just trying to pick out all the bad things. I think it's a lovely idea.

I think that the sets of mixed seed they sell at Wisley also does edible pond plant seed. I can have a look later and see what the make is, if that's any help.

We've planted watercress in our pond from seed-grown plants that we eat, but haven't eaten it from the pond and don't intend to, it's there as a nice green plant that might help the wildlife/filtering. Doing very well it is too.

You could grow rice in the shallows!

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 05 11:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I'm thinking about a little pond rather than a paddy field, but rice might be a fun oddity to grow

Bird scarers are going to be important, and maybe heron netting too.

Do foxes take many frogs?

Bugs



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 10744

PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 05 12:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I rather think they do. And they dig holes up and might puncture the lining so two or three layers is probably a good plan. 'orrible foxes.

Still, they seem to do more damage than actually clear out the population.

If you do fancy trying rice, the Merchant Gourmet make of red Camargue rice germinates readily. If you don't want to buy a pack we might still have some lurking in the cupboard and you're welcome to a handful.

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 05 12:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Bugs wrote:
I rather think they do. And they dig holes up and might puncture the lining so two or three layers is probably a good plan. 'orrible foxes.

Still, they seem to do more damage than actually clear out the population.

If you do fancy trying rice, the Merchant Gourmet make of red Camargue rice germinates readily. If you don't want to buy a pack we might still have some lurking in the cupboard and you're welcome to a handful.


I might get back to you on the rice, depending what else I put in there.

The fox thing might be an issue. I think I can scare off herons with shiny things and netting, but I noticed plenty of fox footprints at the allotment site. Might have to think about dissuading them too (human hair or clothing that smells of people is meant to put them off, isn't it?).

Bugs



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 10744

PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 05 12:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Can't be much help with the foxes as everything we have tried seems to be ineffective. Unfortunately idiots who feed them plus other idiots who leave bones out for dogs and put plastic bags of rubbish out over night, probably negate all our efforts.

On the bright side I have a URL you'll probably regret visiting (if you don't alreayd know it):

http://www.pfaf.org/leaflets/edibpond.php


Treacodactyl
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 25697
Location: Jumping on the bandwagon of opportunism
PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 05 12:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

The trouble with dumping a pile of manure is that frogs, toads and slowworms can bury themselves under the soil to hibernate. Toads tend to stay hidden for another month or so and I'm not sure how much they'll dig through or if there would be a problem.

Depending on how big you intend to make the pond we have some off-cuts of a proper pond liner you can have (Should be at least a 2mx2m bit but I'd have to check. It's a sort of re-enforced plastic.

We currently have a problem fox that seems happy to enter our pond, it must be after the frogs. I don't think it's a cat as it's raking out the pond plants. BTW, if you're interested in the liner I can through a few handfuls of oxygenators in, they're native to the UK (purchased from a nursery a few years back).

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 05 1:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Bugs wrote:


On the bright side I have a URL you'll probably regret visiting (if you don't alreayd know it):

http://www.pfaf.org/leaflets/edibpond.php



Neat website, with WAY more info than I need. Thanks.

tahir



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 44283
Location: Essex
PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 05 1:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Excellent site, anybody fancy asking them to add us to their links?

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 05 3:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Might do. I'll look to see if there's a good email addy there to talk to.

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