Saturday, May 3, 2014

Making the bog garden–part 2

So here is where we were up to with the bog garden construction in the last post. The pond shells were levelled on gravel, fitted with ag pipe fillers and a level indicator, and half filled with washed, blue metal.

Yesterday I got to work on filling the bogs up with peat and sand mix. I always use a ratio of 1:1 peat: sand. Do not use perlite in bog gardens, as my experience with pots is that the perlite eventually floats up through the peat and then blows everywhere. Washed river sand that has been checked for presence of alkalines using an acid test (sprinkle sand into a weak acid like vinegar) works the best. I used TEEM Canadian sphagnum peat moss, which is a longtime staple of CP growers worldwide. It is sold in white, plastic wrapped bales in compressed form, which makes it a little painful to work with. Here is what it looks like as it comes out of the bale:

These chunks need to be broken down into a fine tilth. I break hand-sized chunks off and roll them between my hands, which soon reduces them to the required consistency. The peat also needs to be re-wetted before it is safe to plant into.

At first, I started off pre-mixing the peat with sand in a separate container, but soon realised it was much easier to mix in the bog. Using a hose, I added water until it was several inches deep over the gravel, then dumped equal parts peat and sand into the bog garden and mixed thoroughly by hand. You can use a rake to help smooth it out, but I don’t suggest doing this in a pond with a plastic film liner. Make sure you get the ag pipe filler tube vertical so it is easy to see the fill indicator. Until the peat has saturated and settled, you won’t be able to see the filler for a layer of floaties.

<photo coming>

Once you have filled the bogs to the top, water thoroughly with a gentle spray or rose nozzle to saturate the peat. It will take a few days for the peat to absorb its full capacity of water, so fill it to within a inch of the top of the bog. This may sound like excess (especially if it is winter), but dehydrated peat will absorb a lot of water and require successive top-ups. The amount of free water in the bog will fluctuate wildly as a result. You can plant the bog up at this stage, but the water variations are not optimal for your plants. If you can, wait until you have got the water level stable.

And voila, here are the filled bogs.

Next step – designing the planting layout and planting the bog! As it is raining here Saturday, Sunday looks like it will be BG-Day!