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Thursday, August 31, 2006

What I'm Reading...

Fields of Plenty by Michael Ableman

Excellent profiles of farmers who are living and working outside of the mainstream agricultural industry. Loving it so far.

My Weeds: A Gardener's Botany by Sara Stein

Recommended by Jenn from Garden Djinn

I pulled both of these books from the Los Angeles Public Library, a great resource where I get nearly all of my books. I like to read books before I think about adding them to my own library. It helps to keep the house clutter to an absolute minimum.

Check out your own library today!

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Elsewhere online: Garden work better than working out at the gym

While I already know I need to get out in the garden more often, this is yet another good reason. Despite the fact that I might be sore after a hard days work in the garden, I always feel better about it, both physically and mentally.

What mental and physical benefits do you get out of your garden work? Leave your comments on the WelchWrite Listener/Reader Line at 206-338-5832, send them to agn (at) welchwrite.com or click on the Comments link below this post.

Garden work better than working out at the gym
By Maureen Gilmer

Do you go to a yoga class? It's the question repeated every day in America as our aging population seeks to improve coordination and flexibility. I thought about yoga for a while, but after a weekend working in my garden I'd had all the flex and extend I could handle. (Continues)

(Via SignOnSanDiego.com.)

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Sunday, August 27, 2006

Book: The Curious Gardener by Jürgen Dahl

A good book takes time to read and progresses in a slow and orderly fashion, much like the garden itself. Such is the case with The Curious Gardener by Jürgen Dahl

The Curious Gardener is a collection of Dahl's previous 3 books, much of which were originally created as weekly gardening columns. The 3 books include How to Eat a Lily (1995), The Stinking Garden (1997) and The Curious Gardener (1998). Each book is divided into easy-to-read sections, probably due to their origin as columns.

According to my library record, I have renewed this book twice, each time for 3 weeks and it is rapidly approaching time to renew it again. This means a total of 6-7 weeks to read one book. How could it possibly take so long to work through 250 pages? The fact is, this book was perfect for dipping into whenever I needed a change of pace. Its short section invited a few moments spent in the joys of gardening before returning to more mundane work. It was a gentle friend in the evenings when no more thoughts of computers or email or web pages could be processed.

It seems to happen more frequently than I would like, but I often find myself wanting to meet authors who have already passed from this world. From his writing, Dahl would have been an interesting gardening pen pal. It would have been a joy to read his columns as they were created, rather than in this final collection of his best. Still, I can enjoy the fact that his work was deemed important enough to collect and translate into English.

The Curious Gardener would be a great book for the reading chair and night stand as Fall approaches and quickly turns to Winter. You could lose yourself in the pages as snow flies and your own garden sleeps and wake with new ideas, new thoughts and a new garden come the Springtime.

Note: We receive a small portion of the proceeds from Amazon book sales through this site. You can find other recommended books from all the WelchWrite blogs and podcasts in our WelchWrite Amazon Store.

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Elsewhere Online: How to Build a Birdhouse

Any reader of AGN will have seen a boatload of links to various birdhouse projects. Here is another on from eHow.com.

Birdhouses and bird feeders are some of the easiest ways to invite wildlife into your garden. You can buy them, make them or receive them as gifts. What could be simpler?

You can find past birdhouse references using this link:

Search WelchWrite for birdhouse

How to Build a Birdhouse Having birds in your garden can add beauty and pleasant entertainment to your home. If you want to keep them coming back, one way is to provide them with a home. It's even more fulfilling when you make the birdhouse yourself. Not only will you have the satisfaction of building something beautiful, but you'll also be able to relax on your patio and enjoy the view for seasons to come.

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

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Garden Blog Retrospective over at Cold Climate Gardening

Read Garden Blog Pioneers Look Back–and Forward

Kathy Purdy, from the blog, Cold Climate Gardening, was nice enough to include me in a retrospective on gardening blogs. The response to her questions, from myself and other garden bloggers, was so expansive, she will be releasing the retrospective in, I believe, 8 parts (?!?!).

In this retrospective, we talk about the beginnings of garden blogging, our present writing and what we see in the future of garden blogging.

Link: Garden Blog Pioneers Look Back–and Forward

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Elsewhere Online: Harvesting & Keeping Seeds

Fall is coming and so is harvest-time, as Readymade magazine reminds us. Do you gather seeds in your own garden? I would love to hear your story.

Call the WelchWrite Listener/Reader Line (206-338-5832), email (agn at welchwrite.com) or use the comments link below to let me know what harvest time means to you.

Harvesting & Keeping Seeds

With harvest season upon us, and many flowering plants moving past their prime, it's time to start collecting seed for next year's crop. While a certain amount of knowledge is handy, collecting and prepping your seeds is pretty darn easy. (Continues)

(Via ReadyMade Blog.)

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Garden Quote

"All my hurts my garden spade can heal."-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, August 21, 2006

Stripping squirrels?

As I sat working at the computer yesterday, I noticed an odd behavior in the squirrels that frequent the garden. They would scramble up and down the trunks of trees with loose bark and start stripping off long strands of the bark.

I first noticed them doing this on the, long dead, tree trunks that hold up a portion of the trellis outside my office. Then I noticed them heading over to the redwood tree and doing the same to its shaggy bark.

I first thought that they were gathering nesting material, but instead of carrying the bark off somewhere, they merely dropped it and moved on. Off to Google, first stop on any fact-finding mission. I came across a large amount of information on squirrels stripping tree bark -- and none of it good. It seems bark stripping can be a big problem in some areas.

Click the photo for a short squirrel video. I didn't get any video of the stripping behavior, but this is an example of the squirrels that live here.

Tree Squirrels

"Tree squirrels strip the bark off redwood, redcedar, and certain other trees to line their nests. They seek the tender cambium layer of other trees for food. "

Natural History of Tree Squirrels

"The primary problem is bark stripping – a complicated situation because both Reds and Greys do it. Squirrels will strip away bark to eat it, but much of the stripping is done to gain access to the sugary sap underneath. During the winter, Red squirrels will also strip bark from dead or dying oak trees in order to harvest the Vuilleminia fungal mycelium (the body of the fungi that spreads masses of filaments out into its food source) underneath. Alternatively, squirrels may engage in so-called “ring-barking”, where they chew away a narrow ring of bark tissue from a branch. "

So it appears that perhaps the squirrels were just stripping the bark for nesting material, but this new behavior conic-ides with my reducing the food supply of the squirrels, so they might be looks for sap, as well.

Recently, as shown in our Replacing the Bird Feeder video, you saw how the new feeder effectively excludes the squirrels. I am wondering if their new behavior is in response to the reduction in their feed? I will put out a bit more seed specifically for the squirrels and see if that helps.

I like having the squirrels around. The lend an air of playfulness to the garden, but it seems I will have to keep them happy in order to prevent damage to the trees.

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Sunday, August 20, 2006

AGN Mailing List

Want to stay in touch with the happenings at A Gardener's Notebook, Gardening and chat with your fellow readers and listeners?

Join the new AGN Mailing List via Google Groups!

Google GroupsSubscribe to A Gardener's Notebook
Browse Archives at groups.google.com

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Up on the roof this morning...

As part of the prep for our annual Summer Music Party in the garden, I found myself up on the roof this morning, leaf blower in tow, along with my pruning saw and large loppers.

Since we needed to blow the leaves out of the garden for the party, it made sense to take the time to blow the leaves off of the roof, as well. Leaf mold on the roof can build up pretty quickly in our garden, with so many trees surrounding it. This debris can clog the gutters and cause water to back up under the shingles, so it is always a good idea to get it off whenever possible. We will have to do it again as Fall ends and our Winter rains begin, but, at least, there will be less to move when that time comes.

The leaf blower provided a much superior cleaning method than the push broom I used last time. As long as you are careful to not blow "up" the shingles and dislodge them, it quickly and easily moved everything to the eaves and then onto the ground. It also allowed me to clean the tin roof over the back patio, which had collected 4-5 inches of leaves in some spots. I can't walk on this section and the push broom couldn't be placed at a proper angle, but with the leaf blower, I slowly worked from the roof line outwards, using the blast of air to reach far beyond my arm length.

Finally, I took the opportunity to prune back some overhanging tree limbs from the podocarpus, camphor and pine trees. This will cut down on the debris that needs to be removed later.

Overall, a productive morning and a good start to our party prep. Next, we need to pick up some straw bales for seating and figure out where to place the borrowed grill. Since we just visited Hawaii for the first time, and most of our friends have been there already, we decided on a Hawaiian theme this year. For those hard to find Hawaiian delicacies, we have a local "two scoop" chain that promises to provide us an easy source for Portuguese sausage, malasadas, misubi and more.

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Book: Natural Shade Garden by Ken Druse

An excellent shade gardening reference book with lots of pictures.

Sections include:

  • Inspiration from the Wild
  • Planning the Shade Garden
  • Plants and Planting
  • Special Gardens in the Shade
  • A Gallery of Shade Gardens

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Out in the garden - August 17, 2006

Listen to the Podcast

Theme Music: The One by The Woodshedders, aka the Hot Club of West Virginia, courtesy of the PodSafe Music Network

I'd love to hear what's going on in your garden. Post your comments here or email them to agn@welchwrite.com.

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If you find this podcast helpful, please leave a donation for the author.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Elsewhere Online: Interview with an arborsculptor

Extreme Gardening? Gardening on the Fringe? Just plain Neat?

BoingBoing, source of so many good things offers up this interview with arborsculpture Richard Reames.

These have to be seen to be believed.

Interview with an arborsculptor

David Pescovitz: Cabinet magazine posted a terrific interview with Richard Reames, an Oregon artist who uses ancient grafting techniques and simple tools to create delightful tree sculptures. (Arborsmith.)

(Via Boing Boing.)

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Book: A Garden Gallery: The Plants, Art and Hardscape of Little and Lewis

A personal look into the gardens of sculptors and garden designers George Little and David Lewis. Their concrete sculptures usually take the form of large leaves,built from impressions of real leaves, large columns or intriguing, dinosaur egg-like spheres.

The book is written in 2 voices, with each author giving their own thoughts on various topics including their personal connection with the garden, plant selection, building water features and more. There are tons of beautiful photos and they offer a host of information on which plants they grow and why.

Link: A Garden Gallery by George Little and David Lewis

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Sunday, August 06, 2006

Patio Bed Clean-up

Patio Bed Clean-up
Originally uploaded by dewelch.
I took a few minutes the other day to start the clean-up on the patio bed which holds the agapanthus, some nadina and a carpet of, now dormant, bulbs.

I have been lax about leaf clean up the last year and was amazed at how thick the leaves were in this bed. It sits directly beneath a locust, my favorite Japanese Maple and a large eucalyptus, so it collects leaf mold like crazy.

It is a bit hard to see in the photo, but the pile of stuff in the foreground is from only 1/2 of the bed. The final pile is, at least, twice as large.

Most of this will hit the compost heap, but the rest will go in our green gardening beds for the city to cart away.

Just think, I have another 7 or 8 beds that need the same attention.

Oh well!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Elsewhere Online: World's Youngest Gardening Blogger

Susan Harris over at Takoma Gardener posted this neat story about a young gardener who is also a blogger. Way cool!

World's Youngest Gardening Blogger

A passion was born in Dylan Dukes when, at the age of 3, he was shown a
watermelon seed and told it would turn into a watermelon. So he grew a
few and when that wasn't enough, his smart mom started a
real veggie garden with him at the Youth Garden of the National Arboretum in the heart of D.C. Now 6 and nuts about gardening, Dylan may be the
gardening world's youngest blogger; he's already
documenting his garden and will soon be uploading his photos.

(Via Takoma Gardener.)

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Drip, drip, drip

We all have our little quirks and oddities....well...ok...some of us have more quirks than others, but that's another post. Anyway, one of my obsessions, and yes it goes far beyond a pet peeve, is a dripping water faucet. When I install a new hose, it MUST NOT DRIP. I will tighten fittings, change out washers and even replace the hose tap, if I must.

Living here in the near-desert of Southern California, I simply can't stand the wasting of water, and yet I see it everyday. In true Adrian Monk fashion I want to carry around my tools and fix each and every lawn sprinkler that is shooting up a 10 foot high fountain, or watering the sidewalk or watering during a rainstorm, etc, etc, etc.

You would think that after inhabiting this valley for over 150 years, we would have figured out how to preserve our more precious commodity. As they say, though, intelligence has its limits but gardening stupidity goes clear to the bone.

So, if you are driving around Los Angeles and see some guy jump out of his car to cap an errant sprinkler, give a little wave. It's probably me.

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Elsewhere Online: HortIdeas

Cool Tools points out the commercial newsletter, HortIdeas, for great gardening information and offers some samples in their post (Link below).

I did a quick Google search on HortIdeas and found a wealth of similar resources that use HortIdeas as reference. If you aren't quite ready to splurge for a HortIdeas subscription ($15/year via email), you can probably still benefit from these additional articles that reference it. Of course, I am enough of a geek, in all things, that a newsletter like this sounds great! (SMILE)


Do plants have ideas? Yes.

I use this monthly to troll for the best in the art and science of gardening. Each month editors Greg and Pat Williams extract the meatiest, handiest, most practical innovations in vegetable, fruit and flower horticulture. They tirelessly glean material from obscure ag-extension bulletins, garden club newsletters, seed catalogs and dusty journals, reading it all so you don't have to, and translating it into clear English so you can use it. [Continues]

(Via Cool Tools.)

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