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Monday, May 28, 2007

New Gardening Blog: Square Foot Gardening

My fellow Friends in Tech member, Andy Helsby, has started his own gardening blog, Square Foot Gardening. Using the principals in the book of the same name, Andy is sharing his experience in creating his own "square foot garden."

I look forward to following along with Andy's project and seeing what develops.

Square Foot Gardening.

I started my Square Foot Garden blog this weekend - there are some photos at flickr to go with the project too. So far I've just got the soil down - seeds to go in later today

(Via Absoblogginlutely!.)

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Event: $$ - Native Plant Horticulture with Carol Bornstein = Theodore Payne Foundation

Theodore Payne Foundation

June 23rd - Native Plant Horticulture with Carol Bornstein

If you're new to natives or just need to review the basics, this class offers a wealth of information on the wonderful world of gardening with California flora. You'll discover what a "native plant" is, why natives are valuable, plant communities, plant requirements, establishment, planting details, pruning, irrigation, maintenance and where to see and buy native plants. Our special guest instructor, Carol Bornstein, teaches on Saturday, June 23rd at 10:00 a.m. Please call 818-768-1802 to reserve your space. The fee is $40 for members, $50 for nonmembers. Pre-payment is required due to limited seating!

Click here to buy the book. Ms. Bornstein will sign student copies at the end of class.

Theodore Payne Foundation Information

Email: programs@theodorepayne.org
Web: http://www.theodorepayne.org

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Mimosa Tree Flowers

Mimosa Tree Flowers
Originally uploaded by dewelch.
On yesterday's evening walk, I noticed these mimosa flowers on a tree in the neighbors yard. I am always amazed how delicate these flowers looked compared to the large size of the tree.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Photos from A Gardener's Notebook

Created with Paul's flickrSLiDR.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Fallen Fruit in the Neighborhood

Fallen Fruit Web Site ScreenshotIn the past I have written about FallenFruit.org, a web site that seeks to map the publically accessible fruit trees around Los Angeles neighborhoods.

Today I received an email from David Burns, one of Fallen Fruit's organizers about mapping my own Van Nuys neighborhood. I think this is great time to make this project happen, so I am looking for some assistance. If you are in the LA area, I could use help in identifying the various trees. I know my orange from my grapefruit from my lemon, but figs and olives and loquats are beyond my ken. I could also just use some company and extra sets of eyes to make sure we catch every tree.

If you are outside the area, I can post pictures here that might allow you to identify the trees for me.

I have a handheld GPS which will allow me to easily mark and map the trees once I have collected all the data from the walk.

If you are interested in helping out with this project, or perhaps mapping your own neighborhood, wherever you might be, let me know using the comments link below or emailing agn@welchwrite.com.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

We get books! - PaD 5/18/07

We get books! - PaD 5/18/07
Originally uploaded by dewelch.
Author, Anthony Eglin, writer of "An English Garden Mystery" series of books, was so kind to send me signed copies of his books.

If you read the reviews, you can tell that I have really enjoyed all 3 books immensely, so the books are greatly appreciated and will be exhibited on our shelf of books from authors we really like.

You can read my review here:

The Blue Rose
The Lost Gardens
The Water Lily Cross

Monday, May 14, 2007

LIVE from the Garden on ustream.tv

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Seed Germination Testing

As I was reading some of the garden blogs in my RSS feeds, I came across mention of seed germination testing. Back in 2003, my son and I did a quick test, more as a science project than anything else, but this older post shows the process and the results.

Check out The Seeds of Time and Germinating Ideas

Saturday, May 12, 2007

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Friday, May 11, 2007

Ten minutes in the garden stretches to 90!

Amaryllis - Photo-A-Day 5/11/07
Originally uploaded by dewelch.
I don't know whether it was an effort to shake off a busy work week or merely get a jump on the weekend, but I spent an hour or so in the garden tonight before dinner, mainly doing maintenance. In the process I came across these amaryllis that pop up each year in the south bed. Their size is always amazing. I never quite remember what time of year they bloom either. I have now noted the date in my calendar for future reference, thought.

My work started with trimming the dead parts off the hibiscus, now that I can see where the new growth is occurring. I have been meaning to give them a heavy pruning for a long time to make them bushier and more compact, but I never got around to it. Now this will give me a chance for a fresh start.

I also made a point of removing any of the morea that had cropped back up in the bed. The fortnight lily is a ubiquitous landscaping plant here in Los Angeles, and I frankly hate it. The only plants left are those in places where I can't get anything else to grow. That said, it seeds freely and develops new rhizomes at a quick rate. These plants are leftovers that re-sprouted after I took the majority of it out.

We also have a tecoma vine that tries to take over this bed every year. Since I am getting a jump on it, I took out all the suckers that were reaching into the paths and the front of the bed, leaving only those growing against the fence or in an otherwise empty area. It had pretty flowers, but can really get bushy by the end of the summer. It is deciduous, though, so thankfully it dies back each year.

I took a few dead branches off the Japanese maple and then the overgrown pittosporum caught my eye. This a another project that has been ignored too long. This shrub had gotten so big it was blocking the path and it was starting to suffer some die-back in the center, so I took the time to give it a fairly drastic haircut. Much the my wisteria, I will try to ride herd on it a bit better this year.

That's all for today, though. I think it was the best use of my time and the excellent weather we had today. It was nicely warm, but not so much that you felt too hot. We have to make the most of any day like this.

Amaryllis Amaryllis

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Book: The Water Lily Cross: An English Garden Mystery by Anthony Eglin

Update (5/10/07): The Water Lily Cross is now available at Amazon and other book resellers -- Douglas

The Water Lily Cross: An English Garden Mystery
Anthony Eglin

A Thomas Dunne Book for St. Martin's Minotaur

Although he would be more comfortable restoring gardens and traveling about in his sporty 1964 TR4, Lawrence Kingston, botanical expert, finds himself once more engaged in another mysterious adventure.

This 3rd book in the English Garden Mystery series has Kingston searching for an old friend who has disappeared, quite possibly kidnapped. It seems Kingston's friend has discovered a way to use water lilies to solve one of the world's most pressing problems. Crossword and anagram clues, helicopter flights and threatening messages lead Kingston on a whirlwind and dangerous chase across the English countryside.

Eglin's mysteries are always a great romp combining two of my favorite things -- mysteries and gardening. Lawrence Kingston is a character you wouldn't mind inviting into your home on a regular basis and each new book is an opportunity to do just that. I can imagine sitting across from him, sipping his single-malt Scotch, as he recounts his latest tale of mystery or the details of a garden rejuvenation somewhere in the English countryside. Both are equally interesting to me.

I will say, Eglin is so good at creating interesting supporting characters that I sometimes miss the young couple who discovered The Blue Rose and the American woman who owned The Lost Gardens from his earlier books. Perhaps he can return to them for a future adventure.

The Water Lily Cross and Eglin's previous books are the perfect choice for some relaxing reading between your gardening chores. Pull the chaise lounge under your favorite tree, or within the scent of your favorite roses, and delve into the mysteries of the garden.

Highly Recommended

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Just sitting...

Odd as it might seem, I just spent about an hour in my back garden....doing nothing. There are leaves to be raked, roses to be deadheaded and a host of other issues that myst be dealt with. Instead I say long enough to let the startled birds and squirrels re-gather at the feeder and just sat there watching them. What kid of gardener am I? Obviously one who's mind finally told them to slow down a bit and enjoy what I have just outside my window.

Dusk is falling and I am sitting inside now, looking out the window onto the same patch of trees, shrubs and feeders. The birds will gather until night fall and only when the windows turn black will I turn away.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

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Flowers on my walk - PaD 5/2/07

Flowers on my walk
Originally uploaded by dewelch.
Another walk through the neighborhood this afternoon and a few more cameraphone shots of what is in bloom today.

Flowers on my walk Flowers on my walk

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Douglas E. Welch Events, Speaking and Appearances Calendar

Learn how to subscribe to a podcast

Learn How To Subscribe LogoEven if you listen to my podcasts directly from the web site, or see the Subscribe links on this page, you still may be wondering what this "subscription" thing is all about.

Well, here is a video that shows you exactly how to subscribe to podcast using iTunes or the Juice podcatching client.

Watch How to Subscribe to a Podcast

After you watch the video, you can use the links below to subscribe to A Gardener's Notebook and and receive each new episode automatically.

Subscribe with iTunes

Copy this link to Subscribe using other podcatching clients or RSS feed readers

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Guest Post: Beneficial Wild Creatures In Your Garden by Keri Dearborn

Beneficial Wild Creatures In Your Garden
Guest Blogger, Keri Dearborn

(After talking with my friend Keri Dearborn over at AnimalBytes.net, I got the idea to have her write this blog post. She is an expert on wildlife and a gardener herself, so it seemed the perfect combination. Enjoy! -- Douglas)

I see my garden as an oasis of native habitat in a nature-hostile world. If I can sit on my patio and watch an Allen's hummingbird raising her latest batch of fledglings or pick up a pot and find a slender salamander hunting for earthworms, my faith in the resilience of the planet is restored.

But some wild visitors offer more than beauty and soul rejuvenation. These critters are beneficial to your garden or to you directly. You should be inviting them into your garden and encouraging them to stay.

Ant Lion PitsSuper Pollinators
We all learned about honey bees in Elementary School. While a great producer of honey, the European honey bee is not an efficient pollinator. It also is in serious trouble with introduced diseases. Native bees, like that big black valley carpenter bee that comes through your yard at the same time every day and the California bumble bee with its single stripe of yellow are much better at pollinating plants. These bees live in small groups or are solitary. They are docile and seldom sting.

But bees aren't the only pollinators. Many plants are pollinated by flies, wasps, beetles and other insects. A flower fly may look like a skinny bee hovering over your flowers, but this fly does double duty: it's an important pollinator and their larva feed on aphids.

Super Predators
Wild predators are vital to a healthy ecosystem, even in your yard. If you have a problem with aphids, don't spray insecticide, attract insect-eating predators. Nobody eats more bugs than spiders and other insects. Learn the good bugs from the bad.

Ant Lion PitsYou probably know the lady bug and the praying mantis eat a variety of insect pests. But so do ground beetles, ant lions and paper wasps. The golden polistes, a large common paper wasp, is frequently sprayed and their papery nest knocked down from house eaves. Do they have a stinger? Yes, but they seldom sting people. These wasps prey on tomato worms and other caterpillars that dine on your flowers and vegetable garden.

The other predators you need are insect-eating birds: wrens, bushtits, California towhees, black phoebes and hummingbirds. That's right, hummingbirds are catching insects on the wing. This crew of birds can clean up the bugs in your yard in no time, but they won't come if you are spraying. Nobody wants to eat a toxic bug?

Hawks also play an important roll. Cooper's and sharp-shinned hawks will maintain a balance among your seed-eating birds. Red-tailed hawks hunt rodents and rabbits by day, while owls hunt them by night.

And while you might not think of a snake as something you want in your garden, think again. The gopher snake not only preys on gophers and mice, it is harmless to humans. It is such an efficient hunter, a rattlesnake doesn't want to compete with it. When a gopher snake moves in, the rattlesnake moves out.

Even a rattlesnake is providing a service by reducing rat and mice populations, but few people are comfortable having them around. To keep rattlesnakes away, provide habitat for their predators. Both red-tailed hawks and red-shouldered hawks prey on rattlesnakes. California kingsnakes are immune to rattlesnake venom and also eat rattlesnakes. The beneficial kingsnake is harmless to humans.

Super Defenders
With all the hype about various diseases swilling around us, there are a few animals that offer humans valuable protection. Case in point the species that started this joint effort, the western fence lizard. For more on how the western fence lizard helps protect you from Lyme's disease check out my post on www.animalbytes.net .

West Nile virus is a real concern in Southern California. Removing standing water that offers mosquitos a breeding place is the first line of protection but there are a variety of predators that will help your efforts. Orb spiders with their classic webs are extraordinary insect hunters and mosquitos are on their menu. Admire that web, don't knock it down. Birds, that eat flying insects, like the black phoebe provide mosquito patrol during the day. While at night, bats are eating mosquitos by the ton. Bats are vital members of the southern California ecosystem. I've seen big brown bats, Brazilian free-tailed bats and a western red bat in my neighborhood. We put up a bat box last fall and April 25 we noticed bats milling around the bat house at twilight. Good bye mosquitos!

Go Native
There are few native animals I would deter from my garden. (Yes, I have had rabbits that munch my lettuce. (Desert cottontail) The key word here is "native." Most infestations and seriously troublesome critters (from insects to rats) are non-natives, they have few predators and even the weather may encourage them to over reproduce.

Why invite wild animals into your garden? Many of them can be beneficial. But it is also a global issue. Southern California is one of the world's biodiversity hot spots, just like Borneo and the Amazon forest. Our native plants and animals are disappearing rapidly as their habitat is lost to human development. Some of these creatures are international residents. The hermit thrush that spent the winter in my yard is now in Canada or Alaska, while black-headed grosbeak and western tanagers have just returned from Mexico and Central America.

If you want to save the world, there is no better place to start than in your garden. I've had 114 native animal species in my yard, including 63 species of native birds. How about you?

How do you go about attracting beneficial wildlife to your garden? Check out my post "Creating a Garden That Attracts Wildlife" on AnimalBytes.net.

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