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Enjoying Your Fall Water Garden

No doubt about it. Fall is my favorite time of year. It's been even more special since I became firmly committed to water gardening. Here's why.

Spring brings with it so much work, I never know where to begin. You have to check the water temperature, make a 25 percent water change, keep an eye on your fish to make sure they haven't contracted any diseases or parasites over winter, replace your ultraviolet light bulbs before they stop working altogether, prepare to start feeding your fish again (a high-carb diet, please, until they begin moving around more), clean out the muck and debris that has fallen into the water, and replace plants that have died off over winter and rocks that have somehow mysteriously managed to disappear from their perch.

Winter brings a mad rush to protect the pond from freezing, check the water temperature, stop feeding your fish when the temperature gets low enough and the little beasts begin preparing for their semi-dormant stage, make one last 25 percent water change for the year, run a final water-quality check, and winterize your plants--both marginals and others--before the frigid blasts begin blowing down from the Russian Steppes.

Summer in many locations is just too darned hot to do much more than keep your fish shaded, cool, and alive and yourself planted firmly beneath the misters.

But fall! With a light crispness in the air, the warm sunny days, those cool crisp nights, and your bright-eyed inquisitive fish just begging to be fattened up for winter--this is the time of year I love best. I enjoy sitting back and watching things unfold. Nature is remarkable in her annual preparation for the change of the seasons, and fall is when she's at her best.

Of course, there are some things you can do in fall to get a jump on the advent of the winter solstice. Tuck a few more rocks and plants around the outside of your pond. Check the pump and filter to make sure they're clean of debris and running smoothly. Add a fountain to increase oxygenation or simply to look nice.

But, by and large, these are options that you may or may not choose to pursue. That's the nice thing about fall. The choice is yours.

Me? I'm as happy as a clam curled up next to the pond with a good book or a pipe full of imported burley tobacco and the company of someone I love.

So the next time you find yourself seated outside, feet up, sipping on a cold crisp Pina Colada, think about how much joy your pond has brought you this year...and how much more it's going to bring you in the years to come. And enjoy the fall.

Salut!

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