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Monday, October 31, 2005

Questions about Fallen Leaves as Mulch

A reader added and interesting comment to the previous post on Using Fallen Leaves as Mulch regarding whether pine needles of lemon eucalyptus might negatively effect the mulched plants.

A quick search didn't turn up much info, so I am asking any other readers to chime with their experiences. Click the link above to go directly to the previous post with comments. --Douglas

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Scenes from the Encino Farmer's Market

We headed over to the Encino, California Farmer's Market today to pick up some veggies and just get out of the house for a while. I brought the camera along with the thoughts of doing a little photo essay of the good things you can find there.

Click the photos below to take you to a complete photo gallery from our trip.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

One last pumpkin carving site

Just one last site before the holiday arrives.

How to Carve a Fancy Pumpkin With this technique, you remove the tough orange skin from some areas and carve out other sections completely to let the light from a candle or small flashlight shine through.

(Via eHow.com: How To Article of the Day.)

Monday, October 24, 2005

Fallen leaves as mulch

While I probably abuse this concept out of laziness, I have been raking my leaves into my beds for a while. This actually works better in the Winter months out here as there is significant moisture to help the leaves break down. In Summer, I think it is too dry to let anything really work in the soil. It would also probably help to mulch up the leaves a little beforehand. During our El Nino year several years ago, the leaves merely matted together without breaking down much due to all the heavy rain. If it isn't one thing, it's another.

Tuck those fallen leaves right into beds

Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Don't rake and rid your garden of leaves. Instead rake them right into your garden beds.

Leaves make one of the best mulches available. They form a protective blanket from cold in winter, slow evaporation in summer, and eventually will break down to form incredibly rich topsoil. The only exception is diseased leaves.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Springing forth...in Fall?

I have several roses along the driveway, beneath the kitchen window, that have suffered a lot this Summer. I don't think they were getting enough water, due to irrigation problems, and they are in an area that is becoming more and more shaded. I had thought I had lost off of them until just a few days ago.

I am now seeing new leaf growth on several of the plants, so I may still be able to salvage them by moving them somewhere else. It appeared that some bug was munching on them pretty heavily, too, so perhaps our cooler weather has controlled their population to slow a bit and given the roses time to recover.

Life in my garden is always a bit like this. Trying to discover what is happening and then why before it is too late. As the roses become more dormant, although they never go completely so, I will be able to perform some selective transplanting without stressing them too much more.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Pumpkin Carving 101

Just in time for the holiday, here is a host of information on carving, stencilling, lighting and even photographing you Halloween Pumpkin

Link: Pumpkin Carving and Pumpkin Carving Patterns for Halloween

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Autumn leaves

If the leaves in your area aren't changing yet, you can find tons of color over at the Flickr photo sharing site. Click on any of the links below for a dose of Autumn joy.

Fall colour

The colours of Autumn have bathed a variety of Group pools with glorious reds, oranges and yellows. Enjoy and/or share your Autumn photos in this sampling of Fall in the Flickrverse: Fall Into Autumn, Autumn Leaves, Colors of the World, Autumn colors, New England, Four Seasons - Autumn Theme (New & Old), Utata, Leaves, autumnphotos, fall foliage and All things Autumn.

(Via FlickrBlog.)

Monday, October 17, 2005

Thunder and Lightning

We have had more thunder and lightning here in Los Angeles in the last 24 hours than I can ever remember in my 19 years living here. I grew up with regular Summer thunderstorms in the farm lands of Ohio and I often missed them here. Today, though, with 5 computer systems in my home office, I am not very happy with them today. I guess this is just the year for weird weather no matter where you might live.

Still, with the thunderstorms has come periods of refreshing rain. Sure, the streets may flood throughout the Valley and the rain seems to blank everyone's mind as far as driving goes, but the garden can really use a good, deep drenching after so long without.

Of course, I never did get the leaves off the roof or get some Agapanthus re-planted into the front garden, but there will be time to do that after this storm passes.

I noticed the locust was beginning it yearly turn to gold. Usually it only takes a good rain to remove most of its leaves in one fell swoop, but I think it is too early in the cycle to knock them all off just yet.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Make an acorn whistle

Not much "making" to this activity, but if you have an oak tree in your backyard it might be a fun activity for the kids (and the big kids, too!).

Basically, this shows you how to use an acorn cap (probably from a more traditional oak tree with a larger cap than our California Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia) to make a noisy whistle.
Make an acorn whistle...

Dave writes "I came across this site while looking for crafts to do with all the acorns my 5 year old son collected at school and filled his pockets with. In true junior maker fashion he saw the acorns and knew there was *something* we could do with them. The acorn whistle on this page takes some practice but really is quite loud once you get the hang of it." Link.

(Via MAKE: Blog.)

Sunday, October 09, 2005

For the birds...and birdwatchers!

A good birdwatching guide can make the outdoors come alive for even the most jaded city-dweller. This online birdwatching guide contains a wide variety of information and can add a bit of learning to you daily strolls throw your part of the world.
For the Birds and Bird Lovers The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a great source for all kinds of information on our feathered friends. The bird identification section is particular useful. There are also NestCams.

(Via MetaFilter.)

Friday, October 07, 2005

At Sunset - A Stroll Through the Neighborhood

Even though I know when sunset will occur with exact precision every night, I have often postponed my desire to go out and shoot some photos at that time of day. It is rather silly, but things always seem to intrude.

Today, though, everything seem to drop into place and I found myself walking my well worn route through the neighborhood. I didn't get a lot of pictures, only 3 actually worth posting, but they look pretty nice and I feel good about finally doing something that had been on my mind for a while.

Click for larger images

I am feeling a drive to make some big changes in the garden and I am constantly on the lookout for new plants and new ideas. I am trying to combine this with my desire to take some photos, so hopefully both areas will benefit.

Your own pumpkin patch

Even here in the dense (oh, the double meaning) urban environment of Los Angeles, people will still find a way to cultivate their small patch of soil.

Driving home from school the other day I happened acorss a front yard vegetable garden, including a sizeable pumpkin patch. It looks like they will get enough for a couple of jack-o-lanterns. I would have taken a picture, but by the time I got back with my camera the harvest had already taken place. Bummer.

While it may seem odd to grow a garden in your front yard, I am actually in the same position. The back garden is far too shaded to grow vegetables, but parts of the front yard get enough sun to be tolerabl, though still not perfect.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Special Issue - Los Angeles Times Home Section

Today's Home section of the LA Times is a special issue on fall gardens including articles on "Essentials for the tool shed" and "Meadows for the masses"
by Emily Green.

All the articles are available via the web.

Monday, October 03, 2005

More sketching...

Click for larger Image

I got the itch to sketch last night as I sat watching TV, of all places.

I have been cooped up in the house a lot this last week and I think this is reflected in my subject matter.