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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Your Urban Garden

This column originally appeared in The Daily Bite from Bakespace.com, a daily newsletter of food, kitchen and gardening information.

Sign up for The Daily Bite. your FREE daily e-mail for the latest in food, cooking & fun.

Your Urban Garden
by Douglas E. Welch

Listen to Your Urban Garden

Many of us dream of starting a garden, but if you live in a big city you may be discouraged to try. Planting your own food or simply showing your children how food grows can be both therapeutic and self-sustaining. Today's Daily Bite will hopefully inspire you to turn that urban backyard into your own private garden oasis.

While I may have grown up in a small Ohio farm town, I spent the last 23 years living in one of the biggest cities in the world -- Los Angeles.

When people think of LA, they usually conjure up images of movie stars, traffic jams, smog and surfing, not gardens. I think this is a bit sad because despite its urban heart, LA has a wealth of gardens, both decorative and productive. I see more evidence every day that the city is finding new and innovative ways to garden among the skyscrapers and freeways.

It seems like there's is a new movement afoot here to convert lawns into gardens, grass into vegetables and thirsty gardens into sippers more appropriate to our natural climate. Front yard vegetable gardens were unheard of when I first moved to LA in 1986. In many places, they were banned by homeowner associations and restrictive convenants. That's why it was such a pleasure to see that streetside garden last year. Over time I watched as their plants burst forth with broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, herbs, tomatoes and more -- all in a garden more beautiful and productive than any expanse of manicured lawn.

If you live in an urban area, take a second look at how you might garden among the houses and skyscrapers. Can you make a small, raised bed in your lawn? How about some pots of herbs and tomatoes on your balcony? Maybe you can get your own plot at a local community garden -- something that's very popular here in LA.

You can have your own garden just about anywhere if you give it a try!

For more gardening information...

Subscribe to A Gardener's Notebook podcast using iTunes
Follow A Gardener's Notebook on Twitter
Read or Subscribe via RSS to my collection of gardening items from Google Reader

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Video: Urban Beekeeping: Ins and Outs - Dos and Don'ts - Webinar

I "atttended" this excellent webinar on urban beekeeping hosted by Shane of Brushy Mountain Bee Farm on Sunday and wanted to share it with all of you. It has some excellent advice for those who might want to start keeping bees in an urban environment, including how to deal with fearful neighbors, finding a good place for your hives and why it is important to raise bees in places both urban and rural.

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

A buzzing in the garden

Ash tree "flowering"Taking a few moments in the garden this morning, I heard a gentle and general buzzing throughout. It seems the large ash tree in the back garden is flowering and the bees are taking great advantage of this bright sunny day after all our rain. More rain is expect tomorrow, so it is good they are so industrious. They may be stuck in their hives for a few more days.

I have been following a lot of beekeeping info these days and seriously thinking of getting a hive of my own. I think it would be simpler than trying to keep chickens, the other big backyard farm animal, and fit better in my smallish garden.

What do you think? Are you interested in keeping bees? Let me know in the comments!

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Video: Rain in Los Angeles

Rain this solid is rare enough to be interesting here in Los Angeles, so here is a quick environmental video showing the rain in my garden.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Vermiculture with Urban-Worms.com

We saw Urban Worms at this week's Encino Farmers Market and I immediately knew that it would be some great information for A Gardener's Notebook. Check them out at http://urban-worms.com for great info and supplies for vermiculture.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Why we garden

This column originally appeared in The Daily Bite from Bakespace.com, a daily newsletter of food, kitchen and gardening information.

Sign up for The Daily Bite. your FREE daily e-mail for the latest in food, cooking & fun.

Why We Garden
by Douglas E. Welch

Listen to Why We Garden

To those uninitiated, or perhaps uninterested, in the gardening world, gardeners can seem like fussy, badly dressed Earth Mothers and Earth Fathers rummaging around in our yards. Well, at least that is what I probably look like. In reality, though, we are all gardeners in our lives, even if we don't actually go out and mess about in the dirt. We are constantly gardening in our lives. We plant the seeds of relationships, hoping they grow deep roots. We prune our lives of detritus and those things that weigh us down. We even raise our own offspring and hope they find a wonderful life on their own. We are always engaging in the act of gardening, each and every day.

For those who cook, bake, saute, braise, broil or roast, the connection with the garden shouldn't be seen as something distant and odd -- something only done by people wearing big, floppy hats or Wellington boots. Our ingredients come from the Earth and its nutrients create everything that we are. We garden because it is an integral part of our lives. Every cup of flour, every bit of sugar, honey, maple syrup, herbs, spices and more come from someone's garden, somewhere. With each ingredient we bring into our kitchens, we bring a bit of that garden with it.

So, why not make a little garden of your own? The easiest, if the most stereotypical, way to bring a garden into your kitchen is with herbs. A couple of pots on the balcony, the back stoop or the windowsill go a long way to re-establishing the connection between kitchen and garden. Watch out though. I have seen these little herb gardens steadily grow into larger and larger patches, with tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and more -- in only a few years. Once you experience the joy of growing something, and then using it in your own cooking, it is hard to shake it.

The next time your are in your kitchen, take each ingredient in hand and think a bit on where it came from. Even if it was grown in some large, corporate, farm, it still came from the Earth. It grew out of the constituent parts that make us all. Think of where it came from and what it gives us. Think of what it brings to your kitchen, your table, your life. Then, as you enjoy the fruits of your kitchen labors, give some thought to how each piece melded together to make a whole that is more than the parts.

As you think on this, consider yourself a gardener. Even though you might not turn a spade of dirt, knock the soil from freshly harvested potatoes or gently pinch basil leaves from their stems -- you are still a gardener. There is no way to avoid it. We are all gardeners, each and every day and the more we recognize that fact, the better off we will all be.

For more gardening information...

Subscribe to A Gardener's Notebook podcast using iTunes
Follow A Gardener's Notebook on Twitter
Read or Subscribe via RSS to my collection of gardening items from Google Reader

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Follow A Gardener's Notebook on Twitter

I am expanding my Twitter usage to include feeds for all of my blogs, so now A Gardener's Notebook has its own Twitter feed.

This will be the place for announcing new content on the blog as well as listing the shared items I mark in Google Reader and then tag with the word "garden". Not all of these shared items make it into the blog, so you will be seeing additional content by follow me on Twitter. You can also subscribe to the shared items directly, using the links below.

* Follow A Gardener's Notebook on Twitter
* View All Douglas E. Welch's Shared Items from Google Reader
* View Douglas E. Welch's Shared Gardening Items from Google Reader

Monday, January 04, 2010

Event: The Great Backyard Bird Count is coming February 12-15, 2010

The Great Backyard Bird Count is coming and we will be counting. Our friend, Keri Dearborn over at Animalbytes got us involved in the bird count several years ago. Now that I have advance notice, I think I am going to up the ante this year and get even more involved.

Count the birds in your own backyard and share the results. Get all the info on The Great Backyard Birdcount page at BirdSource.org.

I first saw notice of this on the "A Gardener in Progress" blog...
Get ready to count!: "The Great Backyard Bird Count has announced the dates for next year's bird count. It's February 12 - 15, 2010. I've always been a backyard birdwatcher and this was a fun way to make my hobby mean something."

Friday, January 01, 2010

Top 10 Posts from A Gardener's Notebook for 2009