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Saturday, December 31, 2005

Hmmm.....maybe we CAN grow some tomatoes...

I have heard of these units, but hadn't really seen one. My wife is constantly pestering (SMILE) me about growing fresh tomatoes and herbs. We have so many trees, though, and that makes full sun very difficult to find. I suppose we would put this out in the sunniest patch we can find. It holds 80 lbs. of topsoil, though, so it would have to stay wherever it was placed or put on a wheeled cart to make it easier to move. It certainly would look odd, but the sunniest spot I can think of is the middle of the driveway.
Upsidedown Tomato Garden

This Upside-Down Tomato Garden is very similar to the other aerial tomato garden blogged on Pogadget ...

(Via Popgadget: Personal Tech for Women.)

See also: Books on growing tomatoes
See also: Google Search on "Growing tomatoes"

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Grow it anywhere

Take any open space and convert it back into productive land. Cool!

This is certainly easier than my idea of turning every unimproved lot in Los Angeles into an allotment. (SMILE)


CITY FARMING PLANT MODULES enable persons to grow plants in cities. The plant modules can be arranged in multiple formations directly on pavement, squares, etc.


The plant modules consist of soil, which is wrapped up in semitransparent, semi-permeable fibre cloth made into flexible forms. Water is introduced into every module by hoses that can be connected to drain pipes on buildings or to other water sources. The parts of the hoses that are inside the modules are perforated, which allows the water to seep out into the soil. Rainwater will also penetrate the fibre cloth, which will retain moisture while allowing excess water to escape.

(Via n55.dk)

Additional Plant Systems and Lights from Amazon.com

Sunday, December 25, 2005

More Bonsai information

A link from Delicious bookmarking site under the tag gardening led me to this site with lots of bonsai information. This is another great resource whether you are just thinking about bonsai or are ready to dig in and get started.

Bonsai...The millennia-old art form, still going strongly today!

In Japanese, bonsai can be literally translated as 'tray planting' but since originating in Asia, so many centuries ago - it has developed into a whole new form. To begin with, the tree and the pot form a single harmonious unit where the shape, texture and colour of one, compliments the other. Then the tree must be shaped. It is not enough just to plant a tree in a pot and allow nature to take its course - the result would look nothing like a tree and would look very short-lived. Every branch and twig of a bonsai is shaped or eliminated until the chosen image is achieved. From then on, the image is maintained and improved by a constant regime of pruning and trimming.

Link: The Bonsai Site

Books: Books about bonsai from Amazon.com

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas from A Gardener's Notebook

My Nandina will have to stand in for holly this year, as it has in the past. It is a true Southern California Christmas this year, with the windows open, drawing in 70 degree breezes. Of course, such good weather makes me want to get out into the garden.

Mainly cleanup work this time of year...raking leaves, repairing fences and beds and a bit of tree pruning.

May your Christmas be bright and filled with visions of beautiful gardens!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Need a last minute gift?

Do you need a last minute gift? Can't wait for delivery? Why not send an Amazon Gift Certificate with an e-Card. This is one gift that will make it in time for Christmas.

Thursday, December 22, 2005


As confused as I am, I can only imagine the confusion that the plants in my garden might be undergoing right now. After a week or so of mid-to-low 60 degree temperatures, with nights dipping down into the 40's, along comes this week of 70+ temps. Then, they got a dose of rain a month or so ago, only to go wanting now.

These temperature fluctuations seem to have pushed hte ash trees into a "drop all the leaves now" mode. Both cars were almost buried under an avalanche in the last 2 days, even with very little wind to assist the leaf drop.

I have noticed the azaleas are looking a bit peaked this week, as well. We really should be having more regular rain and the temperatures should be lower, but you can only take what you get. Tomorrow, I will hit everything with a dose of water to tide it over until the next rain and see if that helps. Another 2 weeks or so and it will be time to prune all the roses back again. We had one last flush of bloom last week, but most of those blossoms are gone now. The paperwhites and other bulbs in teh garden are tall and green, but no bloom yet. The lack of rain could be postponing things.

I am still in the planning stages on our new wisteria trellis to replace the old one that is very unstable. I am still getting lumber prices and advice on how to put it all together. I want to have it in-place before the wisteria starts to leaf-out again. With the current weather, though, that could happen at any moment.

** Read previous posts about my wisteria

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Fork - a new gardening ezine

Horticultural points over to this new gardening ezine out of the UK. I am always looking for new thoughts and writing on gardening, so this caught my eye immediately.

The initial issue has several articles that point the way towards great content in future editions.

Link: Fork

Fork zine Fork - the magazine for gardeners with balls. This new e-zine looks promising. Check it out. (via Plot Blog)...

(Via Horticultural.)

Monday, December 19, 2005

AGN Holiday Guide 2005

I hope you have enjoyed this year's AGN Holiday Gift Guide. If you have any other shopping needs, you can use this Amazon Search Box to start the process.

You can link to all the items from the Gift Guide by visiting the links below.

See Also:
AGN Holiday Gift Guide Items 21-30
AGN Holiday Gift Guide Items 21-30
AGN Holiday Gift Guide Items 11-20
AGN Holiday Gift Guide Items 1-10

Thank you for reading A Gardener's Notebook and Have A Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Christmastime is here!

Having grown up in Ohio, I don’t think I will ever completely lose the need for cold weather to get into the Christmas spirit. The chill triggers a sense memory that immediately takes me back to New London. As winter deepened, we all became more aware of our surroundings. The bicycle was put away, after hundreds of miles of Summer riding and we walked more carefully, always watching for the small patches of ice that would suddenly put you into “the splits” or straight onto your backside before you even know what had happened.

Thankfully, this year, Joseph, my son, became interested in ice-skating. Even on the warmest days of summer, I found myself wearing coat, hat and scarf, shivering against the cold. Now, at Christmastime, this has been even more welcome. The cold, even if artificial, triggers the winter feelings and reminds me once again that it is Christmas.

Of course, like everyone else, life doesn’t stop simply because of the holidays. Childhood is blissfully free of worries about mortgage payments, work schedules and other stresses. As children we could simply “be” the holiday season – enjoy its special pleasures – without too many concerns. Today, though, I find myself engaged, then disengaged. The school Christmas program envelopes me in song and the joyful abandon of young voices, then the phone calls, email and other projects drag me, kicking and screaming, back into the “real” world. I drive slowly through the neighborhood, looking at all the lights, then barely avoid a crash when someone runs a stop sign.

So, I find myself snapping in and out of the season, trying to catch a ribbon of the joy that is there. Back in my hometown at this time of year, the Rotary Club would be installing the small, decorated shack on the Main Street corner where Santa (portrayed by the boys from the Senior Class) would hold court. They would greet the children and pass out candy canes, listening to Christmas wishes within easy earshot of interested parents. The nearest mall was 35 miles away, so the local hardware stores would open their Christmas boutiques, supplementing their more utilitarian wares with decorations, toys and presents a young child could buy for their parents. In a town of 2000 people in 1976, you could let your kids run free to do their Christmas shopping, returning with whatever their Christmas allowance could afford for family and friends.

When I was a teenager, I spent most Christmas Eves in the Methodist Church, the one that also housed the town clock in its bell tower, and chimed out Christmas carols several times a day. There I would perform as part of a brass choir made up of volunteers from the local high school band. I always enjoyed the joyful sound of the horns as the choir made a dramatic entrance from the rear of church, everyone joining in “O’ Come, All Ye Faithful.” As the Methodist service would conclude at midnight, the Catholic kids in the group would quickly dart out the back, dash along an icy sidewalk and into the doors of the Catholic Church which adjoined the Methodist. I would make my way home to find everyone else asleep, the twinkling lights on the Christmas tree my nightlight, as I got ready for bed.

More pictures from Christmas 2004

Last year, I was able to take my son back to Ohio for a traditional Christmas. For the first time in years, my 4 siblings and I joined my parents back in the same house where we all grew up. That year, though, the small house was full to bursting with married couples and many grandchildren. There was a certain joy on my parents face as they sat watching us decorate the tree. There was pride, of course, but I also saw in their faces all the Christmases that have passed. Visions of us sitting on the floor with the “A Chipmunks Christmas” on the portable record player – the fake cardboard fireplace that adorned the longest wall in the living room – the squeals of delight as we tore open our presents.

Earlier in the day, my wife, my son and I had trudged through thigh-deep snow in a neighbor’s field to select, cut and drag home the Christmas tree. We eventually got it back to the house, cold, wet and tired, but laughing at our adventure. We had almost 5 feet of snow in the time we were there and Joseph got to experience a particularly special Christmas – one that I might have enjoyed in my own childhood.

I hope that the season finds you and your family well and that this Christmas retains a bit of the magic of the past. We make new memories each year, but these memories are usually based, in part, on those Christmases that have come before.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

AGN Holiday Gift Guide #35 - Garden Stone: Creative Ideas, Practical Projects, and Inspiration for Purely Decorative Uses

Friday, December 16, 2005

AGN Holiday Gift Guide #34 - California Top 10 Garden Guide

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

AGN Holiday Gift Guide #33 - Annuals for Every Purpose

I am always looking for new plants, but never really cared much for annual plants. I garden by benign neglect and couldn't see myself replanting each and every year. Of course, here in California, many annuals can be grown as perennials. So I think I might try out a few of the suggestions from this book.

Link: #33 Annuals for Every Purpose

Link: More books on annual plants
See Also:
#32 Robbing the Bees by Holley Bishop
#31 Mini Solar Fountain
AGN Holiday Gift Guide Items 21-30
AGN Holiday Gift Guide Items 11-20
AGN Holiday Gift Guide Items 1-10

Monday, December 12, 2005

AGN Holiday Gift Guide #32 - Robbing the Bees by Holley Bishop

My bee obsession continues with this excellent book by Holley Bishop, Robbing the Bees: A biography of honey, the sweet liquid gold that seduced the world.

The author writes of her own beekeeping experiences, follows a modern day commercial beekeeper through his year and relates the historical significance of bees and honey throughout the ages.

These micro-histories always catch my attention and I feel like I learn so much through one book.

Link: Robbing the Bees by Holley Bishop

See Also:
#31 Mini Solar Fountain
AGN Holiday Gift Guide Items 21-30
AGN Holiday Gift Guide Items 11-20
AGN Holiday Gift Guide Items 1-10

Delicious Links - Watch my bookmarks

If you would like to see what web sites I am bookmarking, you can subscribe to my Delicious links and see them as they happen.

To view them on the web, visit http://del.icio.us/dewelch/agnblog

You can also subscribe to an RSS feed for the AGN Bookmark list at: http://del.icio.us/rss/dewelch/agnblog


Sunday, December 11, 2005

Eat Your Lawn?!?

As someone who has no lawn on my entire property, I can relate to this story about homeowners who have pulled up the lawn and put the space to more productive use. I wish I had more sunlight on my lot so I could grow more food crops. My wife, of Sicilian heritage, is always begging me to put in tomatoes or an herb garden. I only wish I could, but it would require removing several large, mature tree and they do so much to keep the house cool in the summer. I am sure we save untold dollars on electricity as we don't have to run the air conditioning nearly as much as we might without the trees. Still, I can dream, can't I? (SMILE)


Who knew lawns would go from epitomizing the American dream to embodying all manner of evil? Blaming both human and natural failings, many homeowners have embraced the idea of lawn-eradication. Last week, it was the lawn-pavers; this week, it's the lawn-eaters. (continued)

(Via Inhabitat.)

AGN Holiday Gift Guide #31 - Mini Solar Fountain

Birds are attracted to the sound of running water, so adding a fountain to your birdbath could bring in a whole new set of creatures to watch. Since the fountain is solar powered, you can place it nearly anywhere without worrying about electrical wiring.

Link: #31 Mini Solar Fountain

See Also:
AGN Holiday Gift Guide Items 21-30
AGN Holiday Gift Guide Items 11-20
AGN Holiday Gift Guide Items 1-10

Friday, December 09, 2005

AGN Holiday Gift Guide #30 - OXO Good Grips 6-Piece Container Garden Set

Thursday, December 08, 2005

AGN Holiday Gift Guide #29 - Bonsai Tool Kit, Student 5 Piece Set

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

AGN Holiday Gift Guide #28 - Culinary Herb Garden Kit

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

AGN Holiday Gift Guide #27 - The 3000-Mile Garden

AGN Holiday Gift Guide #26 - Two Wheel - 8 CUFT Polyethelyne Wheelbarrow

One problem with my rear garden is that there is no way to get equipment or material in there easily. Everything has to pass through one of the narrow allys or through the garage. This can make moving compost, topsoil and gravel a real pain. Hence, today's gift guide choice. A good wheelbarrow is a must when doing any major work in our garden. I like this 2-wheel design especailly as I was never very good at balancing the one-wheel variety. I remember dumping quite a few loads when I was young and helping my Grandma Welch in her large vegetable garden..There was a load of potato sprouts once....oh, well. (SMILE)

Link: #26 Two Wheel - 8 CUFT Polyethelyne Wheelbarrow

See Also:
#25 Trowel & Error: Over 700 Shortcuts, Tips & Remedies for the Gardener
#24 Cottage Living Magazine
#23 Sunset Western Garden
#22 Stone Style
#21 Tabletop Gardens

AGN Holiday Gift Guide Items 11-20
AGN Holiday Gift Guide Items 1-10

Monday, December 05, 2005

A Beginner's First Bonsai by Brent Walston

A great introduction to the art of creating your own bonsai trees with lots of links to additional information.

A Beginner's First Bonsai by Brent Walston


Don't 'buy a bonsai'. That is a poor way to begin this fascinating hobby and usually doomed to failure. Bonsai is not about 'owning' bonsai plants, but rather the enjoyment of caring for them and especially creating them.
One learns the basics of bonsai best by creating them, even your first one. Without these basics, it is unreasonable to expect that someone could keep one alive, let alone maintaining it as art. There is also the cost factor. Any 'real' bonsai will take at least five years of development to be convincing. To buy such a bonsai would cost several hundred dollars. Of course you can find 'mall bonsai' everywhere, even grocery stores. These are junk, they are not bonsai. A two year old juniper cutting plunked unceremoniously into a bonsai pot is not bonsai. It is the care and training that makes bonsai; these plants have none. (Continued)

Link: A Beginner's First Bonsai

(Via del.icio.us/tag/garden.)

Sunday, December 04, 2005

AGN Holiday Gift Guide #25 - Trowel & Error: Over 700 Shortcuts, Tips & Remedies for the Gardener

Here is another book that I have found fun and informative. This collection of tips and hints is great for the beginning or intermediate gardener, especially if you are looking for non-toxic (at least to you and yours) ways of handling pests and infections in your garden.

Link: #25 Trowel & Error: Over 700 Shortcuts, Tips & Remedies for the Gardener

See Also:
#24 Cottage Living Magazine
#23 Sunset Western Garden
#22 Stone Style
#21 Tabletop Gardens

AGN Holiday Gift Guide Items 11-20
AGN Holiday Gift Guide Items 1-10

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Wisteria Trellis...Again

This afternoon some friends who own a landscape design and landscaping company took a few minutes to stop by and take a look at our trellis situation. They quickly agreed with the previous assesment that the current trellis should be replaced.

We talked for a few minutes and came up with the idea of pouring some basic concrete footing and placing 6x6 posts at each corner. The upper frame will be either 6x6 or 4x4 with 2x6 cross-members. In order to strengthen the structure we will probably use the 2x6 scraps to construct corner blocks. My friends will price up the lumber and labor and get back to me with some ideas of how long the building will take and how much it will cost. I will do as much work as I can myself to try and keep the costs down. I don't know much about pouring concrete footings, but I can assemble the basic wood framing of a pergola.

For my part, I am researching some basic decorative cuts that can be used at the ends of the cross members to dress up the structure a bit.

A Google Search for Pergola yields a host of information on pergolas, including several pictures.

AGN Holiday Gift Guide #24 - Cottage Living Magazine

I started picking this magazine up ont eh newstand a year ago and will probably end up subscribing myself this year. It usually offers a host of gardening stories, inlcuding complete gardening plans, along with its interior and exterior decroating ideas.

Link: #24 Cottage Living Magazine

See Also:
#23 Sunset Western Garden
#22 Stone Style
#21 Tabletop Gardens

AGN Holiday Gift Guide Items 11-20
AGN Holiday Gift Guide Items 1-10

An Audio Christmas Gift

Here is a small gift of the season from our house to yours. Be well and have a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and the happiest of holidays! -- Douglas

It Came Upon A Midnight Clear
MP3 Audio

Midi arrangement from the WoodShed's Christmas Midi Files

Friday, December 02, 2005

AGN Holiday Gift Guide #23 - Sunset Western Garden

A must have for the Western Gardener. This is the first book I bought when I bought my house and inherited a 10 year old garden. Coming from Ohio, I didn't have any idea what some of these plants were. Sunset Western Garden helped me out a lot in the early days and still has a place on my shelf today.

Link: #23 Sunset Western Garden

See Also:
#22 Stone Style
#21 Tabletop Gardens

AGN Holiday Gift Guide Items 11-20
AGN Holiday Gift Guide Items 1-10

Thursday, December 01, 2005

AGN Holiday Gift Guide #22 - Stone Style

This is great book on using stone in decorating your home and garden. I noted several projects to try when I get some free time, including a sandstone clock, incense holders, stone drawer knobs, stone magnets and tacks, stone stamps and pebble candles.

Link: #22 Stone Style

See Also:
#21 Tabletop Gardens
AGN Holiday Gift Guide Items 11-20
AGN Holiday Gift Guide Items 1-10