- Barley straw is a natural and inexpensive way to control algae growth in ponds and water gardens. If barley straw is not doing the trick, other pond management plans should be addressed to help you enjoy your pond more.
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Pond algae are the building blocks of the aquatic food chain in ponds and water gardens but too much algae could spell disaster in your pond. Too much algae can restrict fish and critter movement and destroy the aesthetics of your pond. In the 1990s several British studies were published citing barley straw as a natural means to control algae growth in ponds.
Although the research has been inconclusive, barley straw is believed to prevent new algae from growing. As the barley straw breaks down chemical reactions start to occur resulting in a solution of humic acids. If enough oxygen is present in the water the humic solution is converted into hydrogen peroxide which is believed to hinder the growth of new algae cells. Since peroxides break apart in water very easily, the continuous decay of the barley straw is believed to provide a high enough level of humic substances to be converted into hydrogen peroxide keeping your pond.
Barley straw can be purchased in a variety of ways. Local farms often sell barley straw bales but many pond suppliers prefer to sell liquid or compressed pellets of barley straw. Barley straw bales can be messy, unsightly and hard to find locally. Barley straw liquid extract is ideal for smaller pond and water garden applications. Barley straw pellets are ideal for large ponds like farm ponds or retention ponds and small ponds because they are easily stored and break down at a faster rate than bales of straw but don’t dilute as fast as the liquid extract.