Koi keeping and gardening is still on hold (sad face)

While much of the world is enjoying the start of spring, we are still indoors this weekend. A little snow fell last night and temperatures are only in the 30s. My cousin sent me a photo yesterday taken in the Mihara area of Japan (east side of Hiroshima). The cherry blossoms have started blooming a full 10 days sooner than normal.

cherry blossom viewing = picnics in the park… I’m wondering what could be in their yummy bento boxes???

Winter in Little Siberia doesn’t stop us from enjoying some koi and garden related projects.

Last weekend the pond builder starting rebuilding the manifolds that were damaged by cold temperatures. He had drained the system of water but forgot to open the ball valve. We suspect that we had a little too much water left in the ball valves and freezing/expanding water went to work. The end result was damaged manifolds. The pond builder decided that rather than buying a pre-made manifold, he would order the parts and build it himself. Not totally finished but they’ll be ready for the new season.

lesson learned, be sure the ball valve is left in the open position over winter

Today the pond builder made me an indoor growing shelf. I haven’t decided if I will start dahlias/zinnias from seed, or start the dahlia tubers, or start some herbs. I will need to start shiso herb plants because I have never seen them in my local garden stores. The plants need at least 12 hours of light a day so we have them on a timer. Hopefully the neighbors will not think we are growing pot since our garage is always has growing lights on for the koi and now we’ll have some in the living room.

indoor growing station

The pond builder loves to have projects going and I’ve decided that I might as well take advantage that he enjoys working hard to keep me happy. I’m very lucky that he indulges all of my crazy ideas and doesn’t mind if we completely redo a project from the previous year. This year we have four major projects. Project 1 is building an enclosure around the lower pond equipment. The enclosure will give us a framework to building a temporary shelter in the winter around our equipment. I’m thinking some black wood with bamboo slats to match everything else around the yard. Project 2 is a redo of the upper pond. He still is not satisfied the way the bottom drains sit and wants to reshape the pond a bit to make it narrower in parts. He also does not like finding pea gravel in the pond so we’re going to have to design wood decking around the upper pond. We may give the pond a little more overhang for the koi to swim under. A bridge over the pond would be cool but I think we would be pushing what could be done in our space. Project 3 is creating a dining space between the two ponds. We’ll be leveling the area next to my japanese maple, build some type of retaining feature and back fill with the pea gravel around the upper pond. Project 4 is my new dahlia garden, This side of the house has a new metal bench/arbor coming in and will feature peonies and dahlias. We’ll have to bring in a lot more dirt, maybe some reinforcement of the concrete sidewalk next to the house and the extended garden will be lined with the flagstones that currently line the upper pond.

2018 Projects

Not content to stay warm indoors, the pond builder has decided to remove snow from the surface of the pond in order to get the ice cover melted. I feel compelled to keep an eye out on him since I would not put it past him to go walk out on the ice cover. The ice was at least 9 inches thick earlier this winter and I’m sure it would still bear his weight… but why take a chance?

March 31, 2018 – Upper Pond, Little Siberia

Other fun things to do in the winter is to buy koi. Kevin Pham at Genki Nishikigoi has a Breeders’ Event today in San Jose. Takahara Inoue (Beppu Koi Farm), Youichi Taniguchi (Taniguchi Koi Farm) and Takahiro Omosako (Omasako Koi Farm) are in California for the third annual Hiroshima Breeders Exchange. In advance of this event, many select tosai from these farms were put up for sale on Facebook. Over a few days, group photos of tosai were posted. The successful buyer for any of the koi posted was the first one who private messaged Kevin with the koi identifier. About ten rounds of photos were posted. By the last round of photos, it was very difficult to reserve your selected koi. On the last round, there was a koi that I sent a message 2 minutes after the photos were posted and it was already taken! Really no time to carefully observe photos – spot decisions! The good thing is that they are all pre-selected tosai at incredible prices. I ended up getting four little koi. The pond builder selected two of the koi – very nice (T46 and T52):

GenkiKoi – 3rd Annual Hiroshima Breeders Exchange

I’m sorry that I couldn’t be in San Jose for this event but next week I will be there for the ZNA NorCal Koi Show. I have three koi entered, all small tosai, size 1 or 2. The gin rin goshiki base has turned dark since it came home from Japan last year. It will be interesting to see. I will also have a chance to see my two showas from Kase Aka Koshiji. I think they are about 17-20 inches right now. All the koi will be shipped to Little Siberia after the show. The pond builder has decided to modify the quarantine tank a little more, giving it even more filtration while the koi spend some time acclimating to our conditions.

My entries in the ZNA NorCal Show next week – this is a photo taken of them in Fall 2017.

My Kase Aka Koshiji showas – I airbrushed out a koi that was swimming between them…

Since I am going to a koi show and exhibiting koi, it’s customary to bring a friendship gift. My sister has been on a kick of knitting koi related items. She just started making some traditional amigurumi animals – specifically koi. She is extremely clever though and has modified the pattern and worked on creating patterns that look more like real koi. Of course you can only do some much given the size and that amigurumi is a craft type of item. I’m taking the first two amigurumi as a friendship gift.

Friendship gifts are bowled 😂 and the third amigurumi is based on the Lion Queen pattern 😍

I asked her if she would be willing to make a few items to use a koi show auctions and she said sure. So I’m super thrilled! Even better she works for wine (albeit expensive wine…). Here’s a shawl that she made that I have donated to the Louisville Koi Show this year. It reminds me of my little gin rin goshiki:
Who wouldn’t want to look like a koi???

Next week I will be posting about the ZNA NorCal Koi Show and GenkiKoi – so excited to be heading for some warmer weather!!!