Rejuvinate with Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) has been used in India for thousands of years as a rasayana (rejuvenative), aphrodiasiac and as an adaptogenic herb (relieving long term stress in the body). It is a small shrub belonging the the Nightshade family bearing yellowish flowers that ripen into red berries. In Hindi, Ashwagandha means “like a horse” referring to its unique smell and it’s rejuvenating properties. It’s also nicknamed  “Indian Ginseng” as it is used similarly as ginseng is in Chinese Medicine.

There have been many recent studies in Indian and Japan showing Ashwagandha effective for depression, anxiety, regeneration of nerve cells, inhibiting cancer cell growth and may also help protect immune function during chemotherapy treatment. Ashwagandha is thought to benefit patients suffering from Alzheimer’s & Parkinson’s diseases and other neurodegenative conditions.

Historically, Ashwagandha has been used by men and women as a reproductive tonic, working especially well for men. It is a slightly warming herb, good for Vata and Kapha excess, with calming, mild and sedative effects. The root is typically used in powder form in encapsulated formulas or mixed with warm milk and honey taken before bedtime. 1-6 capsules can be taken, with smaller doses working up to larger if needed. High doses may cause stomach discomfort or diarrhea and should not be taken by pregnant women.

Medical Disclaimer:   The following information is for educational information and not intended for diagnosis.  Always consult with your Medical Practitioner when ever needed. 

Bitter Melon

Bitter Melon, Momordica charantia, is an annual climbing vine growing to 6ft with deeply lobed leaves, yellow flowers and orange-yellow fruit. Native to southern Asia, Bitter Melon is also found in Africa and tropical areas throughout the world used for food and medicine.
Also known as Cerasee, Bitter Melon has been traditionally used in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean to treat the symptoms of diabetes, colds/flu, parasites/worms, digestive and skin disorders. Current research on the unripe fruit has shown useful in treating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), Herpes/HIV and Diabetes.
Bitter Melon extracts can be 2-3 times more effective than the popular drug Acyclovir (Zoviax) in treating herpes viruses. CFS has been connected to herpes infections and may be useful in treating this disorder as well.
For diabetes treatment, Bitter Melon improves the bodies ability to balance blood sugar levels and glucose tolerance. It works by lowering blood sugar levels and stimulates the pancreas to produce more insulin. Although is works great for those with type 2 diabetes (adult onset), bitter melon should be avoided by those with with hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
Bitter Melon is available in extracts, tea, juice, or whole fruit form. It should be taken for 4 weeks, then discontinued for 4 weeks. Pregnant women and those with serious liver conditions should avoid this herb. Consult with your medical practitioner or experienced professional herbalist if you are on any medications before taking this herb.
If you are interested in an Herbal Consultation, please contact us at Ubi’s or contact Kerri Bailey, Certified Herbalist, at 253.332.2158 or email herbalelements@comcast.net to set up an appointment. www.ubjourney.comblog.thepondpad.com
The following article is for educational purposes and not intended for diagnosis.  Always consult your health practitioner when needed.

Astragalus

Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) is a traditional Chinese herb used as a powerful immune enhancer and energy booster. Astragalus is a member of the pea family native to China, Asia and parts of the U.S. The root is used as a Qi replenisher (Qi is our life force or vital energy), to prevent illness and aids in the recovery of infections.

The Chinese consider Astragalus as a “warming” tonic herb that works without adding heat to the body, it actually can cool a fever. Astragalus is a valued digestive tonic (good for the spleen),diuretic, adaptogen (helps us handle stress) and can heighten our immune system. Great for colds and flu as it also works as an antiviral by boosting our bodies own natural defenses. Many studies have been done with this herb’s ability to protect the liver by reducing the side effects of many drugs, chemotherapy and radiation. Astragalus extracts have been shown to restore immuno-compromised cells from cancer patients and can even extend the lifespan of human cells in vitro.

Astragalus is sold as teas, capsules and tinctures. In Asia, it is usually made into a soup or broth along with other vegetables and herbs. It is fairly non-toxic, safe and very mild, tasty too! Drink this root as a decoction tea and combine with other herbs such as Licorice, Ginger, Ho shou wu (Fo-Ti) and Don Shen (Codonopsis).

If you are looking for energizing, restorative tea blends you can find them at Ubiquitous Journey www.ubjourney.com in Puyallup, WA or online at blog.thepondpad.com.

See my other blogs on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) or take one of my free herbal classes.  Call Ubiquitous Journey at 253-445-6128 or email herbalelements@comcast.net for more details and to sign up.

The following article is for educational purposes and not intended for diagnosis.  Always consult your health practitioner when needed.

Feeding Koi & Goldfish

by Kerri Bailey

How Often Should I feed my  Koi & GoldFish?

Water Temperature = # Daily Feedings & Total Amt. to Feed (/body weight)

 

>50°F 0  0 do not feed                         5055°F  1-2 times a week >1%

5560°F 2 times a week 0.5%              6065°F 3-4 times a week 1%

6570°F 1 X day 1.5%                           7075°F 2 X day 2%

7580°F 3 X day 2.5%                           8085°F 2 X day 1.5%

8590°F 1 X day 1%                             <90°F 0  0 do not feed

We feed our fish to maximize and enhance their vibrant colors, growth, and longevity. Koi are omnivorous opportunistic feeders that need a balanced diet of protein and plant matter. Just don’t overfeed, it’s better to under feed than overfeed! Take out uneaten food before it spoils the water-adding to algae blooms.    

Healthy Water=Healthy Fish

What type of diet should I feed my fish?  

Koi are naturally bottom feeders, so feeding floating food is best. There are several types of food on the market-flakes, sticks or pellets. Feeding a mix of foods and cold water or wheatgerm based diets are great for the Pacific Northwest, where we have colder water.

Protein-helps increase growth & reproduction 31-42% crude protein Fats give fish energy, 2-3% crude fat. Carbohydrates offer an energy boost but also help fish process nutrients (cheerios and oatmeal). Vitamins and minerals regulate their metabolism and Vitamin C aids immunity.

How do I start to feed my fish in the Spring?

Start off with Cold water fish food / wheatgerm diet, or you can feed uncooked Quaker Oats or pre-soaked Cheerios. Feed sparingly to start to reduce the risk of illness- if scales beginning to raise or turn red, stop feeding and watch them. If the scales don’t go down, try treating with an antibacterial medication and move fish into a heated hospital tank.

If you have any questions please direct them to thepondpad@gmail.com

Kerri Bailey, owner of The Pond Pad, has been working with aquatic plants and herbs since 1989 and has been in the pond and horticulture industry since 1998.  She has a BS in Biology and is a Certified Herbalist. 

 

 

 

Wonderful Water Plants

by Kerri Bailey, revised 3/20/18

Water or aquatic plants are essential features for any pond or water garden. They add beauty and color softening the rocks, while providing shelter for fish. The bonus is that they also help keep your water clear and fish healthy. Water plants also compete with algae for nutrients and consume excess fish waste.  So you may want to add more plants to your pond to increase your filtration and pond appeal.

What are Water Plants?

So, what are water plants? They range from plants that tolerate wet feet and areas to plants that can be completely submerged in water. These plants can survive and thrive in wet areas year round (or naturally for their life cycle). Many common garden plants can be used in ponds or bogs that grown along the edges (margins) and stream areas. When plants are grown in water, they produce a different type of roots than soil grown plants. Aquatic roots are long and filamentous with feathery looking root hairs. These roots grow into the water for searching for nutrients, oxygen and are used to anchor themselves. Some plants float on the waters surface that have air bladders inside their leaves or stems to keep them buoyant with roots that grow completely submerged.

Water Plant Groups

Water plants are classified into four main groups: “Water Lilies and Lily-Like”, Marginals, Floaters and Submerged plants. Each plant group is dependent upon where they grow in the pond or how deep they can be submerged in water.

Water Lilies are the jewels of the pond.  The root or rhizome   grows in deep water (1′-4′) with stems that grow upward toward the water surface.  Leaves and flowers float on the water surface or slightly above.  Water lilies are divided into two types- Hardy and Tropical.  Hardy Water Lilies are hardy from zones 3-9 and can be grown just about anywhere in the country year round. They typically are day bloomers that are available in many colors with leaves and flowers that float on the waters surface.  Tropical Water Lilies need warmer temperatures (above 65ºF) and are usually treated as annuals or winterized inside.  They come in vibrant bloom colors with leaves and flowers that stand out above the waters surface. They are either day or night blooming. Check your zone at: http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/

Lily-Like Aquatics  Grow similarly to hardy water lilies but have smaller leaves and flowers, and grow in shallower water depths.  They are very versatile working well in containers and in small ponds.  The lily-likes vary in leaf size and shape, temperature hardiness and flower form.

Marginal Plants  A very large group of plants that grow on the margins of ponds, bogs or stream edges.  They are grouped as hardy or tropical- hardy plants survive below zone 9  and tropicals survive above zone 9.  Iris & Cattails are hardy marginals and Taro & Papyrus are tropical marginals. Some marginals can survive in wet soil to a few inches of water depth, and others can grow deeper (up to a foot of water).

Floating Plants or Floaters  Plants that float on the waters surface with their roots submerged into the water.  Their leaves have air bladders that keep them buoyant.  Most are annuals ( Water Hyacinths, Water Lettuce) some are hardy (Azolla, Frogbit)

 

Submerged Plants  What most people think of as “water weeds”.  

They are often referred to as “oxygenators” which is misleading, as all water plants consume and produce oxygen. These plants are found under the water surface either freely floating or anchoring themselves to the  bottom.  At times they may grow at the waters surface or out of the water.  Most have insignificant flowers, others have delicate blooms.  Many are considered “noxious weeds” so check the list to see what you can grow in your state http://plants.usda.gov/java/noxious?rptType=Federal

WA State see:  http://www.nwcb.wa.gov/ab_weedlaw.htm

Learn more about water plants at ThePondPad.com or email at:  thepondpad@gmail.com

Kerri Bailey, owner of The Pond Pad, has been working with aquatic plants and herbs since 1989 and has been in the pond and horticulture industry since 1998.  She has a BS in Biology and is a Certified Herbalist.

 

 

Hardy Water Lily Care

by Kerri Bailey, revised 3/20/18.                                                                                     Hardy Water Lilies are perennials that come back each spring year after year and go dormant in late fall.  They can live for several years up to 20 years or more, provided they are properly cared for.

Placement:  Full sun, up to 6 hours of sun a day for abundant blooms, although there are a few varieties that can take less sun (Burgundy & Dark Red colored varieties can fade in too much sun).  Water lilies do best in moving water that is oxygenated by a pump, stagnant water may cause them to rot out.  Avoid water splashing on the leaves, and heavy wind & wave action that causes leaves to pull away from stems.

Water Depth: Water lilies are submerged plants- the roots need to be in the water with theleaves floating on the top of the water.  The roots or pot should be submerged at least in a foot of water up to 2.5′ / 3′. Dwarf varieties can be in less water, the larger ones should be grown in deeper water.  In natural ponds that have stiller water, water lilies can grow in up to 6′ water depth.  If lilies are planted too deep, the stems can break away from the rhizome (tuber).

Fertilizing: Fertilize your water lilies around April or May, monthly until August/September. Do not fertilize your plants when they are dormant and follow the directions on the package.  Use only aquatic fertilizer tablets- not fertilizer meant for soil plants- you can get algae blooms and possibly kill your fish.  You don’t have to fertilize them if you have a heavy fish load, the fish waste turns into nutrients for the plants to absorb.  If your lilies aren’t blooming, they may need to be divided, re-potted or need fertilizer.

Dividing: Divide mature plants when overcrowded, or have out grown their pot.  In warmer areas, divide your lilies more often, cooler areas divide less often (shorter growing seasons) or every 3-4 years in late spring.  If you clean out your pond, that would be a great time to deal with your aquatic plants-dividing, fertilizing, cutting back foliage, etc. Water Lilies planted directly into the pond may need to be divided every 2-3 years as they will grow faster than they will potted.  A divided water lily needs at least 6 weeks of good growing weather in order to survive winter.  Use a sharp, clean knife and cut 4″-5″ of rhizome on medium to large types and 2″-3″ pieces on smaller types.  Make sure there is at least 1-2 side eyes per division.

Planting:Plant your water lily directly into the pond, or submerge a potted lily in 1′-3′ ofwater depth.  Do not use a planting mix, potting soil or compost intended for soil plants.  These mixes use a lot of oxygen as they break down and can cause your tuber to rot or cause algae blooms.  Use an inert medium- top soil, sandy loam, gravel or an aquatic plant “soil”.   See my blog on Planting Hardy Water Lilies for more details.

Pest Control:  Water lilies get few pests & diseases.  Aphids can be a problem and can spread quickly.  Never use a pesticide on any pond plant that is not labeled safe for aquatic life- fish are very sensitive!  A natural method is to coat the leaves of the lily infected with aphids with “Diatomaceous Earth”or DE- a whitish powder make up the shells of microscopic organisms called diatoms (avoid breathing in the dust particles).

The sharp edges of the diatoms cut the insects and suffocate them.  Wait a day and spray off your lily pads with a gentle stream from a garden hose.  You may have to repeat this several times until they are gone.  The fish may eat some of the aphids for you and the DE will not harm fish.  Another potential problem is root rot, which usually happens to potted lilies.

Dead Heading / Leaf Care: Each water lily bloom lasts up to 5 days or so, opening and closing each day until it expires. You can cut spent flowers to stimulate more blooms and to keep your lilies tidy.   Dead or ugly leaves can be trimmed as needed.  Do not cut the “indicator” leaves that grow out from the base of the tuber, they tell the plant when to grow in the spring.

If you have any questions email at: thepondpad@gmail.com or stop by ThePondPad.com.  Kerri Bailey, owner,  has been working with aquatic plants since 1989 and in the horticulture & pond industry since 1998.  She has  a BS in Biology and is a Certified Herbalist.  See her other blogs on Planting Hardy Lilies and  Water Lily Facts.

Water Lily Facts

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by Kerri Bailey, revised 3/20/18.                    Waterlilies are an essential feature for every water garden.  They are one of the oldest, most sacred plants used as an important native species to many people in several countries for food and medicine.  The water lily family- Nymphaeaceae- is one of the oldest plant families of water plants found scattered throughout the world.  There are four other genera in this family- Euryale (Gorgon plant), Nelumbo (Lotus), Nuphar (Spatterdock) and Victoria (Amazon Lily).

tropicalwaterlilyThere are 40 species of water lilies (Nymphaea) worldwide and many hybrids that are split into two main groups- Hardy and Tropical. The differences are in temperature hardiness, leaf structure, flower color and performance.   Typically the brighter & more colorful the flower, the more complex it’s genetic history.

Hardy Water Lilies are:

    • Day Bloomers, flowers come in peach, changeable, pink, red, white and yellow.  Flowers usually lay on the waters surface or slightly above. Many are scented.
  • Leaves have rounded and smooth edges 1″-12″ wide depending upon species/variety. They have a split that runs from the outer edge to the middle of the leaf that joins the stem (petiole).dsp (1)
  • Hardy, from zone 3 (Alaska) to zone 9 (Florida).  They can stay in your pond year round.  New purchases can be placed into pond in April.

 

Tropical Water Lilies are:

    • Day or night blooming, flowers come in stunning, often electric colors of red, pink, white, yellow, green, purple and “blue”.  Most flowers are scented and stand high above the water surface.
  • Leaves are rounded to oval shape, with a split and have wavy edges.tropical.waterlily.Albert Greenburg
  • Tropicals need a water temperature of 65-70 deg. F.  New plants must be put in the pond when it’s warm, usually in May or June.  Thermal pots can help keep your tropical warm, or you can over winter them inside or treat as an annual.

How Water Lilies Grow:  The leaf starts growing from the root crown (rhizome) outward and as the leaf ages the petiole grows long and reaches the water surface.  They grow and multiple spreading several feet.  As the leaf ages, it yellows and dies and new ones take their place. Waterlilies breathe through stomatas on the top of their leaves, another reason why they prefer more stiller water.

Flowers grow straight upward from the crown until they reach the water surface. Some older lily varieties have only one flower blooming at one time, with most newer varieties 6-7 flowers or more open at one time. Most individual flowers last around 5 days, opening and closing every day (or night).

Flower Types:  Classified as Stellate (star shaped), Rounded, or Peony-shaped.  Petal count is between 12-100 with the outer sepal usually green, inner petals colored.  In the center is the stigmatic disc which is usually yellow or orange, where pollination water-lily-lite-pinkhappens.

If you would like to learn more about Waterlilies- see my other blogs on  Water Lily Care and How to Pot Water Lilies.  Kerri Bailey, www.ThePondPad.com or take one of my classes at Pierce College in Puyallup, WA www.PierceCE.com

Kerri Bailey is the owner of The Pond Pad water garden online store.   Kerri has been working with aquatic plants and herbs since 1989 wile she was undergoing her BS in Biology.  She has been working in the horticulture and water garden industry since 1998.  Questions? email: thepondpad@gmail.com