5 Easy Ways to Save Money on a Road Trip

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 3.43.41 PM

Hey there! In late spring, I went on a three-week road trip around the south-eastern United States. My companion and I hit up eight cities over the course of over 1,500 miles. I shared a few city guides already, but today I wanted to let you in on five easy ways to save a few bucks on your next road trip. There are plenty more ways to save, but here are the obvious and easy to get you started:

  1. Pack a Cooler – Snack attacks hit hard on road trips and most of the time it’s because you’re bored not hungry. Beat hungry street by packing a cooler with some hummus, dips, sandwich supplies, whatever you like to eat on the road. You’ll save money, time and tummy aches by skipping out on all the fast food.  Fun fact: We didn’t eat fast food or buy coffee from a chain at all – not even a single time – on our road trip.
  2. Pay for Gas in Cash –  Plenty of gas stations offer a discount (usually five or ten cents per gallon) if you pay for gas in cash. Sometimes these deals are advertised, but other times you have to ask at the counter. It never hurts to ask, you’d be surprised how often there is a discount. Since we’re chattin’ gas, make sure you’re getting the most of your gas mileage. Check the tire pressure frequently and stick to roads where you can drive under 70 mph. It makes a noticeable difference. Also, park in the shade and don’t idle your vehicle for too long.
  3. Use AirBnB or Camp – Instead of staying in overpriced hotels each night, try camping instead. Staying at local campsites is a great way to get your fill of nature, which can be challenging if all your destinations are cities (like ours were). After a few hours on the interstate highway, your brain will be craving the serene scene that a campsite brings. Camping out during road trips doesn’t require too much gear, really just the tent, sleeping bags, flashlights and camp chairs. Every thing else is a bonus. If you’re not down to sleep on the ground, search for a unique AirBnB instead. I love AirBnB and I have never had a bad experience. They’re especially great if you have young kids or a dog, as you can find accommodations that are right for your family.
  4. BYOB + C – Whenever possible, always supply your own booze and coffee. Having a big jar of cold brew coffee on hand was the best decision of the road trip. Each morning went so smoothly when we started off with some home brew. Once you have a cup of coffee, the cobwebs clear and the day comes into focus. Often times we bought afternoon coffees (because independent coffee shops are great places to hang out and experience), but without our cold brew to start things off we would have had some rocky mornings. As for the booze, whether it’s a local six pack or a nice bottle of wine, it will always be cheaper at a grocery store than a bar or restaurant. It’s also nice to sit at your campsite or on the deck of your AirBnB and sip slowly with your co-road trippers than to be packed into a crowded bar where you’ll pay more and miss half the conversation.
  5. Think Like a Local – Just be mindful of your actions and they’ll pay off. Sometimes we were on auto pilot, for instance we paid for parking on a Sunday. So dumb! We didn’t even realize what day it was or we could have parked on the street for free. That would have saved us $18. Brainstorm ideas on how you save at home and translate those tendencies to your life on the road. Instead of grabbing drinks at any old spot, why not look for a local happy hour? Instead of paying for a concert, browse around for a bar that always features live music for a small cover, etc.

That’s it folks. Nothing earth shattering today, but it’s always nice to save a little dough, especially on vacation. There’s nothing worse than coming home feeling tired and broke. Live within your means and make it fun. If you’re stressin’ about money during your trip you certainly won’t enjoy it as much as you could have. So, where are you headed next?

Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

Arugula Walnut Pesto

Nuts are our ingredient of the season. We’ve been using them for sweets, drinks, and snack bars. Today we’re finally using them for a savory condiment!

Sarah here: Comin’ at ya with a republished post today – I’m making this tonight and I’m papapumped about it. Pasta and pesto all day please. Carry on.

I didn’t even know I was looking for it, but I found my new favorite condiment in this arugula walnut pesto! I think I overdid the traditional basil and pine nut pesto, because the past few times I’ve had it, I just wasn’t excited by the flavor, but the peppery-ness of the arugula and parmesan combined with the savory walnuts and olive oil and the zing of fresh garlic allows this pesto to brighten any dish, creating the perfect cure for grey days when you’re faced with another late spring snow!

liveseasoned_spring2015_walnutpesto2

I have to admit, I didn’t go to the grocery store with arugula on my list and the intention of making this pesto, but when a super-sized container of arugula landed in our fridge,  I was looking for a way to use it up!

Continue reading

Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

Asheville in 24 Hours

live seasoned summer 15 travel asheville-28

Oh Asheville! How I love you. Whenever I tell folks that I live in North Carolina, they immediately say, “Asheville?!” with a glimmer in their eyes. Nope. I don’t live in this super cool, artsy, mountain town with the most breweries per capita. I made a mistake. I’ve visited a couple times and later this summer it looks like I’ll spend at least a month working there! I’m thrilled to spend more time in Asheville and to expand this little guide, but until then, enjoy 24 hours in Asheville.

live seasoned summer 15 travel asheville-34live seasoned summer 15 travel asheville-35

Sights & Activities

  • Brewery Tour – no need to organize an official one, just start somewhere and wander around town until you hit a few more. So.Many.Breweries. Uber and pedicabs are popular in Asheville, so if you don’t feel like drunk walking, you can call a cab.
  • Mosey Around Town – Asheville is small enough that it’s a very walkable city. Even walking down Broadway will keep you busy for the better part of an afternoon. Haywood Road in West Asheville is also a great street to explore. Plenty of thrifting, small artsy shops, bookstores, a comic book shop, and West Village Market & Deli, a fabulous independently owned grocery store with a juice bar.
  • River Arts District – an amazing artsy side of Asheville. Meander through dozens of studios, watch artists at work, scoop up some special presents and finish it all off with a cold beer at Wedge.
  • Go on an outdoor adventure or drive the Blue Ridge Parkway. There are thousands of options here, so whatever floats your boat!

live seasoned summer 15 travel asheville-33 live seasoned summer 15 travel asheville-32live seasoned summer 15 travel asheville-31live seasoned summer 15 travel asheville-26live seasoned summer 15 travel asheville-25live seasoned summer 15 travel asheville-17live seasoned summer 15 travel asheville-15live seasoned summer 15 travel asheville-21Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 9.08.12 PMlive seasoned summer 15 travel asheville-36

Breakfast & Coffee

  • Coffee only – Chocolate Gems is an extrodinary chocolate and gelato shop that also serves great coffee. If you need a break while you’re in Asheville, this is the perfect place to recharge.
  • Coffee and a quick breakfast – Clingman Café has a large variety of breakfast options, salads, sandwiches and sweets. Grab a patio seat and watch the world go by before exploring the River Arts District.
  • Full Breakfast or Brunch – Over Easy Café locally sourced and unbelievably delicious. Just go. Go now.

live seasoned summer 15 travel asheville-19live seasoned summer 15 travel asheville-23

Lunch or Dinner

  • Farm Burger serves delcious, juicy burgers and local beers. Play bocci inside while you wait for your meal and make friends before it’s time for brew round two.
  • Bywater is so low-key from the outside, but walk through the fence and behold the beauty of beer and the French Broad River. Tie up your tube and float for hours, grill lunch and pet puppies, Bywater is your new home.
  • West Village Market and Deli has a bunch of delicious daily premade eats and their juice bar and attendants is on point. I urge you to check it out for a cheaper lunch option.

live seasoned summer 15 travel asheville-30live seasoned summer 15 travel asheville-1live seasoned summer 15 travel asheville-4live seasoned summer 15 travel asheville-3live seasoned summer 15 travel asheville-2

Drinks & Breweries

  • Asheville Brewing has great beer and delicious eats. I’m not a fan of their branding so it took me way too long to visit, but now that I did, I will certainly be back. Awesome outdoor space, games and a projection screen help this place come alive at night.
  • Wicked Weed Brewing is a feast for the eyes and tummy. Sit outside or downstairs and admire the architecture and design of Wicked Weed while you conquer a sampler or two.
  • Top of the Monk is an experience. Set in prohibition times, Top of the Monk serves handcrafted cocktails and they’re sooooo f!cking good.

live seasoned summer 15 travel asheville-18live seasoned summer 15 travel asheville-6live seasoned summer 15 travel asheville-5live seasoned summer 15 travel asheville-8

Wilson’s Riverfront RV Park – If you’re staying the night, I highly recommend camping nearby or in the mountains outside of the city. Wilson’s has simple, yet excellent facilities for tent campers. It’s situated right next to the French Broad River and a paved walking path. There are also dozens and dozens of great looking airbnbs in the area. Bon Paul & Sharky’s Hostel seems really interesting and inviting too, but I have yet to stay there.

live seasoned summer 15 travel asheville-20

Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

Summer Quiche

If you follow us on Instagram, then you may have noticed that I’ve been having fun with a #quicheoftheweek hashtag. I don’t make and post a quiche *every* week, but that’s the goal, and I find that my quiche-making really ramps up in the spring and summer time. So, since today’s the first day of summer, I thought it was the perfect time to share my basic quiche formula.

quiche1

Basic Quiche Formula

My methods are so stinking easy. As you’ll see, there’s a lot of freedom in what flavors and ingredients you put in the quiche, I’ll share a small list of ideas below, and hopefully you’ll be encouraged to experiment once you see that any crazy combination can work.

The photos in this post all come from the process of making a quick veggie and herb quiche for dinner. Nothing fancy, just leeks and spinach combined with fresh basil, chives, dill, and thyme.

Key Ingredients

  • pie crust. It can be store-bought and frozen or an unbaked DIY crust.
  • egg & milk mixture. I often use about 4 or 5 eggs whisked with 3/4 to a cup of whole milk. Everything is an estimate. I’ve never measured the milk and yet have never had a problem.
  • cheese. You’ll need about a 1/2 cup of grated cheese + a little extra for sprinkling on top. Have fun here. I will use whatever is in my fridge, and I’ll often mix and match. Usually I have some cheddar, maybe some parmesan, swiss, or gouda. You really can’t go wrong.
  • salt and herbs. I don’t add a lot of salt to my quiche, but I will add a dash to the whisked eggs and milk and a few dashes to the veggies as they cook. When it comes to herbs, I like to add dried thyme or even a dried Italian Herb blend during the winter, but in the summer, I’ll experiment with any variety of fresh herbs.
  • savory ingredients. See my suggestions below. Basically, I like to cook most vegetables before they go into the quiche. I like their final texture better if they’ve been cooked, and this also helps to remove water from the veggies, which will give you a firmer final quiche. With meats, I’m a fan of putting salmon (canned or smoked), smoked oysters, canned baby clams (drained), and ham in my quiches. I’d like to experiment with more, but for now that already gives me plenty of variety.

quiche3

Putting it Together

  • Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • Place the empty (and uncooked) pie crust on a baking sheet. I always bake the quiche over a baking sheet to avoid getting any drips on the oven if it overflows while baking.
  • Begin cooking the veggies. For this particularly quiche, I sliced and sauteed a couple of leeks over medium-high heat in a pan with olive oil. As they began to soften, I added a big pile of frozen spinach (in the summertime this could be any mixture of fresh greens). I then turn the heat down to low and let the veggies continue to cook and let off steam (never put a lid over the veggies, you want all of that water to evaporate!). I’ll let the veggies cook for anywhere from 10-15 minutes or longer if they have a lot of water in them.
  • While the veggies are cooking, whisk together the eggs, milk, a dash of salt, and any herbs. Then toss in about a half cup of grated cheese. If I’m adding canned salmon to the quiche, I break it up into bits and stir it into the milk mixture.
  • Spread the cooked veggies over the bottom of the pie crust. *Reserving any “decorative” veggies for the top of the quiche.
  • Pour over the egg mixture. Very gently, “blend” some of the veggie mixture with the eggs. I’m not too picky here, but I just give the whole mixter a slight mix-up with my fork, being careful not to prick the pie crust.
  • Decorate the top of the quiche. If I have some fresh tomatoes, I may put a few slices on top, or arrange some asparagus spears. If I’m adding smoked oysters, I do that now by just arranging them on top of the quiche. I’ll also sometimes sprinkle on a little bit more cheese, and if I’ve used fresh herbs, I’ll add a few to the top.
  • Place the quiche in the oven for about an hour. It will puff up as cooking, but then deflate as it cools. I like to let it cook until it starts to get a bit brown around the edges.

quiche4

Savory Ingredient Suggestions

I will experiment with any vegetables & a variety of proteins in my quiche. And I’m not joking when I say that I’ve never made a quiche that we didn’t like. So many savory flavors go well together, especially when combined with milk, eggs, and cheese. Believe me.

Consider this list just the starting point. You can mix and match any number of ingredients to create something amazing.

  • spinach
  • leeks
  • asparagus
  • fresh tomatoes
  • sun-dried tomatoes in oil
  • broccoli
  • basil
  • dill
  • thyme
  • chives
  • smoked salmon
  • smoked oysters
  • canned salmon
  • ham

quiche5

I’ve found that my boys love quiche! Since it’s mainly eggs, milk, cheese, and pie crust what’s not to love? From my perspective, it’s also a great way to introduce new flavors and give them an extra shot of veggies.

And when it comes to feeding our energetic clan, there’s nothing better than picnic dinners in the park, so I bake a quiche in the afternoon and pack it up with some drinks and fruit for the perfect picnic dinner! It’s so portable, and we even think the quiche tastes better when it’s had an hour or so to cool – no need to serve it hot and no need to worry about letting it sit in the picnic basket until you’re ready to serve.

quiche2

As we enter the season of fresh produce and longer days, I hope you’ll bake up a quiche or two and have a picnic in the park! And if you do, be sure to post #quicheoftheweek pic on instagram and tag us, we would love to see it. xo

Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

Two Bits

We want to break down these internet barriers and invite you into our lives and we’re hoping you’ll do the same.  You are welcome to share a bit of your week or day in the comments, or if they’re better represented by a photo, tag us on instagram @liveseasoned.

Sarah Here :

Hey there! What the hell have I been up to? Well once a year I kinda quit every single thing in my life, reassess and then see what I miss. I guess I had unknowingly did that with Live Seasoned when I became busy one week, too tired the next, traveling the week after that, etc, etc. I’m happy to report that I do miss showing up here on Seasoned so you’ll be hearing more from me in the coming months.

liveseasoned summer16 two bits camera-1liveseasoned summer16 two bits camping-1

In other news, I just returned from an epic road trip through the south.  It was quick (only 2.5 weeks), but packed with adventure and exploration. I’ve already posted quick travel guides to Philly and Chapel Hill – check ’em out! liveseasoned summer16 two bits schu family-1

After the road trip, I drove an insane 24 hours up to Pennsylvania to stay in the home I grew up in for a couple weeks. I was able to catch up with friends from high school, do some work around the farm house, and attend my middle sister’s wedding celebration. It was a whirlwind and although I’m happy to be back in NC, that visit stirred up a lot of nostalgia.

I have a feeling these next two months will be a little hectic.  I’m moving out of my apartment in July and to be completely honest, I don’t have a clear direction just yet. Never in my life have I felt something tying me to a specific place or person and now that I’m letting both place and person go, I’m a little lost, but I’m settling into this feeling, I’m not to worried about it. I’m searching for a cool community to join or a room in a house to rent, I’m even searching house sitting websites for a listing that will work with my situation. Ever have those days where you wander from website to website? I’m perusing through Craigs List to Idealist to House Sitters America and back again. Searching, searching, searching.

Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

Chapel Hill & Carrboro in 24 Hours

liveseasoned summer16 chapel hill in 24 hours-5liveseasoned summer16 chapel hill in 24 hours-2

Wake up! It’s time to explore! The Chapel Hill & Carrboro area has had a solid hold on my heart since I moved here a few years ago. It’s a quaint little college town full of independently owned restaurants, coffee shops, bookstores, and artists’ studios. As you wander around town, you’ll find a large selection of local and thoughtfully curated items both on menus and on store shelves. If you wander a little outside of town, there’s plenty of farms and nature to explore. It’s a safe little city full of southern charm and close to pretty much any activity or cuisine you could think of.

Visitors flock to Chapel Hill to watch UNC basketball games, partake in the enormous Halloween parade, view the best fireworks display in the Triangle, but mainly to help their kids settle into college, checking up on them frequently during the weekends as there’s always a little wait for brunch.

If you’re popping through Chapel Hill with no plans in mind, I suggest a little bit of nature, some window shopping, maybe a campus stroll and a bunch of people watching. Sandwich these activities with delicious eats and treats and 24 hours in Chapel Hill will pass in a flash. If you want a local activity, check out the calendar, it’s always filled with neat activities. Chapel Hill is packed with deliciousness, but here are my absolute favorites for one day in Chapel Hill ::

liveseasoned summer16 chapel hill in 24 hours-3liveseasoned summer16 chapel hill in 24 hours-4

Sights & Activities

  • Honeysuckle Tea House is my absolute favorite place in Chapel Hill. It’s a little bit of a drive into the country, but you will thank yourself over and over once you arrive. It’s an oasis, it seems like something straight out of Ubud, Bali. While the beverages are on point, Honeysuckle Tea House is still working on its menu, so eat before you come that way you’ll have the energy to hang out in the gardens and around the grounds for a couple hours while you sip kombucha, tea, coffee, or one of their creative smoothies.
  • Look around! Take a walk down Franklin street. Start in the center of town (MLK + Franklin) and head west eventually veer right on Weaver Street, wander through the Carr Mill mall or better yet, stop at Weaver Street Co-op for lunch or a cold drink and enjoy it on the lawn.
  • Coker Arboretum has nothing on the Duke Gardens, but we’re talking Chapel Hill not Durham today. Coker is small but lovely and it’s free! The North Carolina Botanical Gardens is also great, but Coker is right downtown so it’s more easily accessible.
  • Ackland Art Museum is worth a visit. If it is after hours, stop in at the store, which is unlike any museum store. A perfect mix of high-end and affordable gifts for anyone in your life. I wander through Ackland quite often just to feel inspired.
  • Go for a hike! There are dozens of local green spaces to get your hike on. My favorites? The Battle Branch Trail is perfect for the entire family. It’s scenic and pretty easy, a perfect early morning strolling spot. This trail actually leads to campus if you want to check out UNC. The Bolin Creek Trail is more of a path that winds through residential neighborhoods, but it’s extremely accessible, so if you need to stretch your legs, check it out. The Haw River Trail near 15-501 (more info), which is conveniently near Allen & Son’s gives visitors a good idea of North Carolina’s climate and forests. If it has recently rained, I’d skip this one.

liveseasoned summer16 chapel hill in 24 hours-1-5liveseasoned summer16 chapel hill in 24 hours-1

Breakfast & Coffee

  • Coffee only – Cafe Driade is an absolute gem. Tucked away outside of town on East Franklin street, this is a cafe that locals know and love.  Order your favorite brew and pick out a snack from the counter then head outside. There’s seating sprinkled around the side of Cafe Driade, but take a look around the back.  Wander down into the woods for a meditative way to wake up in Chapel Hill or stop in the art gallery that shares Driade’s parking lot.  If you wander by Cafe Driade in the afternoon, try my favorite treat the espresso affogato.
  • Coffee and a quick breakfast – Looking Glass Cafe is my favorite coffee shop in Carrboro.  The atmosphere inside and out is inviting; perfect for conversation with friends or a full on study session.  Without fail, I order an iced americano with a jalapeno bagel although they serve up plenty of great quick yet filling breakfast and lunch options.
  • Full Breakfast or Brunch – Elmo’s Diner is always my top pick for a sit-down breakfast.  The menu is enormous and each plate has character and flavor.  I’m constantly grappling with all the options until ordering and I’m always satisfied and stuffed when I leave.  If you’re eating when the rest of Chapel Hill is, there’s usually a wait, but Elmo’s is located in Carr Mill Mall so you’ll have plenty of little shops to visit while you wait. My favorite in the plaza is Townsend and Bertram, an independently owned outdoors store with the kindest, most helpful employees.

liveseasoned summer16 chapel hill in 24 hours-1-3

Lunch or Dinner

  • Al’s Burger Shack serves up fresh, local, sustainable southern grub.  The burgers come in three sizes so you can snack according to your stomach size. These are some of the best burgers I’ve ever had, add a local beer, sit outside and enjoy the action on Franklin Street.
  • Mediterranean Deli will please everyone who eats there.  The selection of wraps, deli salads, and Mediterranean desserts will almost overwhelm you.  It’s cheap, quick and ridiculously filling.
  • Allen & Son’s is the place to go if you want authentic Carolina barbecue. There are two locations, both equally out of the way, but they are a destination in themselves. If I’m picnicking, I’ll order a pound of pulled pork, coleslaw, and a dozen hush puppies then I’ll grab a bag of rolls and some beer and head to a serene spot.  There’s seating at Allen and Son’s, but I find it a bit too southern, country, authentic for my taste (think musty hunting cabin) so I usually grab a table outside or take it to go.
  • Venable describes itself as a rotisserie bistro serving elevated southern comfort food.  Each meal incorporates southern elements, but the portion sizes keep the food coma at bay.  The cocktails are amazing and worth every penny, but the beer list is lengthy too if that’s more your speed.
  • Food Trucks! There’s a bunch roaming all over town. Spot one yourself or ask someone on the street, they’ll be able to direct you to one of the truck’s regular parking spots.

liveseasoned summer16 chapel hill in 24 hours-1-4 liveseasoned summer16 chapel hill in 24 hours-1-6

Drinks & Bar Bites

  • Beer Study is theeee place to go for a brew. SO many options, various sizes for tasting or chugging, outside seating, an old school Nintendo and TV inside. Beer Study is where it’s at.
  • Top Of The Hill is my favorite people watching perch. The bar and distillery sit in the center of town at the corner of Franklin and MLK. Try and find seating outside and you’ll find yourself sipping on TOPO’s unique cocktails, brewtails, and delicious draft beers for hours.
  • The Cellar is a dive bar, but those are my favorite kinds if I want a cheap mixed drink or a good beer.  You won’t find crowds of college kids, but rather pool sharks and smoke-smelling middle aged men.  There’s also a nice little patio out back for your cig-smoking friends.
  • Linda’s Bar & Grill is the perfect stop to start or end the evening.  The bar food is on point and the drinks and top notch.  I love the crew at Linda’s. The owner, Chris Carini, is a Penn State graduate, a dude who knows his cars and bars, so chat him up if you wish. When I go to Linda’s I feel immediately comfortable and well taken care of no matter how crowded it gets.

 

liveseasoned summer16 chapel hill in 24 hours-7

Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

Garden Update : The Pond

Throughout this summer, I’m documenting our garden. How it’s growing, what we’ve planted, and any changes we make to the space. Here’s my introduction to the bulk of our flower and veggie beds here.

Ugg, we’re such lazy bloggers lately! I realized that if I didn’t put this post up soon, then I’d miss my window of opportunity for pond introduction photos. Without further ado ~

When we lived in PA, I experimented with a few water gardens on our deck. Click here to read more about those experiments and the Thai water gardens that inspired my experiments.

With this house we inherited a small pond. It’s not something that either Calder or I would want to instal in our yard, especially in such a dry area where it seems a bit frivolous, but since it’s here, I’m so excited to expand my water gardening to this bigger space!

pond - 1

The Pond

This pond is created using a waterproof rubber liner that is then covered with rocks. The pond is about 10 feet from our deck, and between those to spaces is a flagstone path with mint growing between the rocks (that’s what you see in the foreground above). The pond has a filter and pump system that pump water to a waterfall that’s about 6 feet high and 10 feet away from the pond. The water then trickles down a stream and into the pond. Last season we turned on the pump once (right after cleaning it), but then never used it again. This summer we’re hoping to tweak it slightly and use it a bit more, but I’ll discuss that feature in a future post.

Spring Cleaning

Both last year and this year we started the season by draining the pond and spraying it down to try to remove as much algae and silt as possible. I didn’t photograph that process, but realized I should next year. We learned a lot of things last year that made what was at least a 12-hour project the first time just a 2-hour jaunt this time.

We drain the pond with a big hose using this technique. You just fill the hose with water, submerging one end in the pond water and putting the other end at a lower point, letting gravity do the rest.

With a pond of our size, it takes a while for it to drain completely, so while it’s draining, I get to work removing the algae. I drag a large pitchfork through the water, picking up sheets/strings of algae that I then dump outside of the pond. As the water level goes down, I’ll hook another hose up to a water source and start spraying down the rocks on the side of the pond, trying to remove any algae and slime on them.

Once the pond is almost completely drained, you have to be careful that the draining hose doesn’t lose suction. It’s just a pain because then you have to fill it with water and get suction going again to get any remaining water. During this phase, I’m almost constantly spraying fresh water onto and between the rocks to wash out as much silt, slime, and algae bits as possible.

I don’t remove every bit of gunk from the bottom of the pond, but once I’ve done a fairly good job, the process is done and I start filling it again with fresh water.

pond - 1 (2)

Algae

If left unchecked, our pond came become overgrown by string algae. From what I understand, the algae is not a danger to us or other organisms, but cosmetically, it’s a bit unsightly and makes the pond look more like a swamp than an oasis.

One of the reasons that our pond seems to be a prime target is because it gets a lot of direct sunlight throughout the day, and just like other plants using chlorophyl to make their food, sunlight will encourage growth. I was told that I could eliminate the algae and have crystal clear water by adding bleach to the pond, but this is only a solution if I don’t want to have any other plants or animals growing in the pond (and if I don’t mind dumping bleach into the environment, which I do). There are a few other solutions, so this summer I hope to keep you updated with my algae successes and failures.

In addition to physically removing the algae (as described above) and using an algaecide (discussed below), I can try to physically limit the amount of sun reaching the water’s surface. One easy way to do this is by adding water plants that will grow on top of the water, so that’s what I’ll be experimenting with this summer.

pond - 1 (1)

Mosquitos

Because of the cool weather in the mountains and the lack of standing water in our dry climate, the mosquito population in the mountains is generally low. That said, we don’t want this pond to become a mosquito breeding ground. There are a few ways to avoid that.

Generally, mosquitos will successfully breed if they have access to the surface of still water and if nothing eats the larva. If we keep the waterfall on, this would agitate the water enough to deter mosquitos from laying their eggs. It’s unlikely that we’ll do that because of the noise, energy use, and increase in water loss that would happen. Another option is to cover the surface of the water in plants so that it’s hard for the mosquitos to lay their eggs. I’m going to attempt to cover most of the water with plants (more below), but it’s unlikely that we’ll completely cover the surface. If I do achieve relatively good plant cover, then I would love to add a few goldfish to the pond, and they would help to eat the larvae. So, there are some options, but they aren’t guaranteed to work at this point in our pond’s lifecycle.

So, for now, we’ve decided to add Mosquito Bits to the water. The mosquito pellets/dunks contain BTI, which is a bacteria that is toxic to the larvae and will kill them. The dunks are considered safe and non-toxic (when used correctly) for all other animals.

pond - 1

Plants

This year I’m hoping to do some experiments and expand the variety of plants that I grow in the pond.

Right now our pond contains two groupings of water lilies. Both are made up of lilies that I put in the pond last summer and they successfully spent the winter out there. Not only did they survive in our little pond, but they thrived, multiplying successfully in their pots. This year I repotted them and added another one that came as a dry root from Home Depot. I bought that one because it was so much cheaper than the live plants and I wanted to grow it as a test this year to see how well it does.

I’ve also added a curly rush, two canna lilies (from dried roots), and another mystery lily that I picked up in the pond section at Home Depot. You can see the leaves of the mystery lily just starting to sprout in the photo above. All of these plants live on the “margins” of waterways ~ along the edge where their roots may be submerged in water, but their stems and leaves aren’t. So I have them in pots near the surface of our pond. It isn’t the most beautiful presentation, but I’m hoping that the floating plants will disguise the pots, and if they plants are successful, then I’ll come up with a better solution next year.

I was going to use duckweed as a floating plant to cover the water surface, but I wasn’t happy that the batch I received in the mail. So just this week I placed an order for fairy moss (it’s the small floating plant growing in the photo above), and a couple of water lettuce (another floating plant that is larger, like a small head of lettuce, and multiplies like crazy).

~

That’s our pond in early spring. I’m hoping to get some lush growth from the plants this year. I would love to add a couple of goldfish, knowing that they will be super attractive treats for birds (thus wanting some good plant cover for them to hide under). We have a couple of frogs out at the pond now; we hear them but can never see them! Last year they laid eggs, so we’re hoping for another batch of tadpoles this year.

I’m excited to keep you updated as the pond grows and evolves this summer!

Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone