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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Blog Day 2007 - 5 blogs for you!

Blog Day 2007

What is BlogDay?

BlogDay was created with the belief that bloggers should have one day dedicated to getting to know other bloggers from other countries and areas of interest. On that day Bloggers will recommend other blogs to their blog visitors.
With the goal in mind, on this day every blogger will post a recommendation of 5 new blogs. This way, all blog readers will find themselves leaping around and discovering new, previously unknown blogs.

In the spiirt of BlogDay, here are my 5 picks:

AnimalBytes withg Keri Dearborn

This blog and podcast focuses on all things natural, from the backyard to around the world. Recent posts include Creating a Garden That Attracts Wildlife, Of Mourning Cloaks and Hummingbirds and Beneficial Wild Creatures In Your Garden.

Goosing Your Muse with JoAnn Braheny

Need help being a bit more creative, check out Goosing Your Muse. News, creativity exercises, insight and more. Recent posts include 7 Ways to Help Yourself Recognize Opportunity, Writing Tips - Paul Graham, and 7 Ways to Help Yourself Recognize Opportunity.

Dumb Little Man: Tips for Life

We all need some good advice sometimes, and Dumb Little Man brings it right into your RSS feed reader. Recent posts include How to Teach Children and Learn from Them Too, 9 Ways to Have a Better Day than Yesterday, and Finding a Healthier Lifestyle - Committing to Change.

Managing with Aloha

This blog (and the author's book) apply ancient Hawaii philosophies to our modern world. Delving into this (for me) foriegn world provides an invigorating mental challenge that allows me to think in new ways.

Chris Brogan.com

I came across Chris Brogan's blog through some common Twitter friends and I have been following him closely since then. Chris is all about digital community -- what it is, how it can be used, what it means for all of us. As I expand my own work into this realm, Chris provides a welcome guidepost along the way.

I hope you enjoy these blogs, especially if they are new to you.

Do you blog? If so, check out BlogDay2007 and highlight 5 blogs that you find exceptional.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Dog Days of Summer, Indeed

Weather ReportHot, Hot Hot!

Waking up to this weather report this morning was a very unplepasant surprise. We suffered some fairly high heat already this summer, but now it comes back with a vengence.

The Dog Days of Summer is an ancient term, described by Webster as as...

1 : the period between early July and early September when the hot sultry weather of summer usually occurs in the northern hemisphere
2 : a period of stagnation or inactivity

Jerry Wilson goes on to add a bit more explanation...

In the summer, however, Sirius, the “dog star,” rises and sets with the sun. During late July Sirius is in conjunction with the sun, and the ancients believed that its heat added to the heat of the sun, creating a stretch of hot and sultry weather. They named this period of time, from 20 days before the conjunction to 20 days after, “dog days” after the dog star. (More on his site)

For me, this heat arrives just when I am already wishing for cooler temperatures. I can take a day or two of 100+ temperatures, but an entire week...no thank you! It looks like I might just have to abandon the garden and spend my week at the beach. (I wish)

Today, though, I will check all the irrigation and make sure everything gets the water it needs until the heat abates.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Some Garden Photos

A quick video made using animoto.com...

Sunday, August 19, 2007

10 Minute Gardener - August 19, 2007

Despite the heat, I needed to get outside for a little bit today. We have been spending most of our time indoors this weekend and I have a bit of cabin fever. Hard to believe in the middle of summer, but it does happen.

As soon as the sun went down, I headed out to the back garden to clear out a bit more of our old compost container by moving it into our second Garden Gourmet I set up a couple of months ago. It only took me about 10 minutes, but I had topped off the original unit and then completely filled the new one. I gave both of them a thorough soaking with the hose to get things moving again. Here in LA we often have to deal with compost piles drying out this time of year, which basically puts a halt to any sort of compost action.

After this I hit another quick task and removed 2 asparagus ferns which I had plopped into the ground years ago. After some recent tree pruning, this area is getting a lot more light and my wife has been itching for an herb garden, so this was the first step to opening that area for some amendments and soil work.

We don't really have enough of our own compost yet to work into the area, so I will probably have to go and buy a few bags of amendments to mix in. If we are really going to attemmpt this herb bed, I want to give them as much help as possible. Watering in that area is already handled by a soaker system, so we don't have to do anything different there.

Other than that, we are waiting for the heat to settle down a bit so we can plant some more lavendar in a bed my wife prepared a few weeks ago in the front garden. Just as most people experience in the Spring, it doesn't do any good to try and rush the planting season. You just end up losing a lot of plants, no matter how diligent you are about watering, etc.

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Summer is a time for sleep...in the garden

Here is southern California, especially over the last week or so, Summer is a time for sleep. Almost like a hot Winter, the heat and drought sends nearly every plant into a formant period. I see very little growth and almost no blooms in my garden, although the lack of blooms is probably more of a factor of the natural bloom cycles of the plantings, rather than the heat. The plantings, most done by the previous owners of the house, seem to favor the winter and spring. This is especially true of the wonderfully naturalized collection of bulbs that come up every year. I suppose I could go and find some late summer bloomers, but we haven't done that as yet.

I do find myself drawn more and more to flowering vines, though, and I have my eye on a number of possibilities for placement. Sun is always an issue, but after some judicious pruning, I am starting to see some holes opening in the canopy.

The birds, of course, are seeking out the feeders and bird bath in the heat, so there is always a bit of activity in the garden, even if I have been avoiding the heat myself. Recently I noted the return of opossum to the garden. During and after the construction of the large parking garage behind our house the opossum disappeared, but it looks as if the birdseed dropped from the feeders has attracted them back again. This one appears to be a juvenile, where in the past we had seen large adults, usually with a brood in tow. You can read about my inital experiences with oppossum in the garden in a AGN column "from the 1996 archives, "Summer, Summer Quite Contrary, How do our gardens scorch!".

I find that the opossum don't do any damage to the garden, although they can occassionally freak out a visitor or two. They do sound like a bear is digging around the garden at night, though!

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Garden furniture by Loll Designs

Furniture by LollI came across these nice chairs, table, etc while leafing through my July/August edition of Dwell magazine.

I appreciate the typical Adirondack chair, hte great design and sustainable materials of these items make them even more attractive.

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Bird Cinema.com - Share your bird pictures and video

I received a nice email from Albert Mitchell. Associate Creative Director
over at Bird Cinema.com and I wanted to let you know about this neat site.

Think of it as YouTube/Flickr for the birding set. I just uploaded a couple of my bird-related videos to share and you can find almost 1000 other videos, like the one above, on birds of all types.


Link: Bird Cinema

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Friday, August 10, 2007

In the Garden Today - August 10, 2007

After cranking out today's edition of the Career Opportunities podcast and handling a memory install for a client, I was itching to get outside for a little while.

Well, that and I was becoming extremely annoyed with the petulant little squirrel who decided that he was smarter than I was and was hanging from the side of my birdfeeders. Grrr. I don't mind squirrels in the garden, but KEEP OUT OF MY DARN FEEDERS! They are little pigs and would quickly destroy my birdfeeding budget if left unchecked.

So, off to the garden with ladder, pruners and hand saw to remove the overhanging limbs that had granted him access. I have a really effective squirrel baffle on the pole of the feeder, so if I can keep them from jumping on the feeders I should be ok...at least for a little while. Anyone who has ever dealt with squirrels knows they are a crafty lot. Witness this YouTube video...

But enough about the squirrels. Like every good gardener, the moment I set foot in the garden, I notice a hundred things that need doing. First I dismantled our 10-year-old bent willow garden swing. It had finally succumbed to rot and termites and was positively unsafe, especially with our annual Summer Music Party coming up. Rather than put any of our friends at risk, I knocked it apart in about 30 minutes. We kept some of the long limbs for lining garden beds and then placed the seat against the back wall, where it will quickly be overun with the weeping fig that grows there and become a decorative element, even if you can't sit on it anymore.

Together with my wife, I cut up the pruned limbs, stacked the usable wood from the swing and contemplated what we would buy next to go in this spot in the garden. We might replace it with another bent willow swing or we might go with something that requires a bit less maintenance.

After writing up this entry, it will be time to start putting together some of my famous Welch's Red Sauce for dinner with friends tonight. Not a bad day after all.

Be well!

Douglas E. Welch

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Japanese Maple Frost Damage?

After returning from our two-week trip to Missouri, I noticed that there appeared to be a few more dead branches on my favorite Japanese Maple. I also notice a large split on one of the multiple trunks, although the upper branches appear to be doing ok.

I am thinking that this is the final evidence of the week of hard freezes we had last Winter. Most of the damage appears to have been at the extremities of the small tree so that would seem to be typical frost damage.

Still, I am keeping an eye on the tree to watch for any further stress or damage. I would really hate to lose the tree, as it really is my favorite tree in the garden.

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