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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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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Do It Right! LA City Christmas Tree Pickup and Recycling

My friend, Keri Dearborn, over at Animalbytes has pointed out this great information for City of LA residents about Christmas tree pickup, dropoff and recycling.

In the past, many Christmas trees were simply dumped curbside, on lawns or in empty lots. They would often site there for a month or more until someone decided to clean them up.

The best action to take, of course, is to cut up, or chip/shred your tree for use as mulch in your garden or compost pile. While I have the ability to do that here, I realize some other city dwellers might not be equipped for such things.

If you can't mulch or compost your tree, the City of LA has 3 different ways to dispose of your Christmas Tree.

  1. Cut it up and place it in your standard green garden bin

  2. Leave it curbside, if it is too big to fit in the bin (or you are unable to dismantle it)

  3. Take your tree to a long list of drop-off sites around the city incuding various Parks and Recreation and Fire Station locations. This is a limited time option, though. You will only be able to do this on Saturday, January 2, 2010 and Sunday, January 3, 2010.


Here is complete information on City of Los Angeles Christmas Tree Recycling Program. Dispose of your Christmas tree properly!

Photo Credit: Flickr picture by Shira Golding

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Makes me yearn for seasons again

This timelapse video makes me yearn to live somewhere where there are defined seasons again.

The creator also provides a "making of" video explaining how he created it.

Be sure to click over to Vimeo to see it in HD.



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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

End of the season

This article appears today as part of the Troy-Bilt gardening newsletter.

See more content from the newsletter




Fall colorsI know it may seem a bit off to be writing about the end of the gardening season at this late date, but here in California we are just seeing our first real taste of Fall. Many of you have probably already buttoned up your gardens for the season, while we were just receiving the first of our Winter rains on Halloween. Still, garden cleanup is a must here, just as it is in your gardens. I sometimes wish, though, that I had the hard deadlines that killing frosts and falling snow provides.

Instead, I deal with mature trees that drop their leaves over a 3 month period, sometimes setting new buds before the last leaf falls. How are you supposed to decide when to sweep up all those leaves when there are so many more to fall? Cleaning the leaves off the roof several times a season complicates the equation. At least I don't have to deal with putting my roses and shrubs to bed for the season. Besides a heavy pruning sometime in January, the roses tend to take care of themselves, although the process can leave me looking a bit like the loser in a late night cat fight.

Like all things, gardening in California has it weird moments. While I am struggling to clean up the Fall leaf drop, bulbs are already pushing up through the litter. They start their season as soon as we get the first substantial rain and continue well into the New Year. In my garden it starts with Paperwhites, progresses through drifts of Snowbells and ends with showy daffodils. While the previous owner planted most of the others, I try to add more daffodils each year. They do seem to like it here and the drifts of yellow against the purples of the lantana and lavender is a good combination. Fall is planting time here in Los Angeles for everything. It is the one time where you can (usually) depend on enough rain to allow transplants to get a good start. I have a few beds that I want to refurbish. Now I only need to carve out the time to get it down.


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Being surrounded by gardens rather the typical Los Angeles lawn, allows me to experience one important part of the season...the smell. There is a a particular odor...equal parts wood smoke, composting leaves, damp earth and soggy trees...that always makes me stop and say, "Hmmm, feels like Fall." People say we don't have seasons here in California, but we really do. You just have to look more closely to see them. Fall and Spring pass in an instant, while Summer and Winter can linger long past their time. The surrounding hillsides are a good guide. With our Winter rains come verdant, grass-covered hillsides dotted with green California Live Oak trees. In Summer, the same hills turn golden, the oak trees providing dark-green punctuation to the landscape. Still, for me it is the smell that marks the changing seasons.

Like elsewhere, I am enjoying working in the cooler days. Temperatures in the 90s don't make for pleasant gardening, wherever the location. Now I feel like I can put in a few productive hours before the heat drives me into my garden chair with a cool drink. It also means that I must do the California equivalent of "making hay while the sun shines" and try to get as much done as I can.

Having spent my childhood living in rural Ohio, I can understand the longing for Spring that accompanies the dark Winter days. For gardeners this is felt even more keenly. If you are stuck in the depths of snow and slush, hopefully you can take a little solace in my gardening adventures and live vicariously through my daffodils until the ground thaws and you can once again return to you favorite spot...the garden.

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Saturday, October 04, 2008

Rain has passed us by



I was so excited to think we might get some rain today. We haven't seen any here in Los Angeles since about last February and I am so ready for Fall. The Summer heat has lasted longer than I wanted and I am ready for a change.

Today's storm was supposed to being a little moisture, but looking at the radar it appears that is went around us on the north and east. This happens all the time. I assume it is the configuration of the mountains and the air currents that break up the weaker storms before they can get into the San Fernando Valley where I am.

Oh well, I guess it is time to do the rain dance a little longer this year and keep the drip and soaker systems running.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Drip irrigation line is...well...dripping

On Thu, Sep 18, 2008 at 9:45 AM, Bette wrote:

Hi! I saw your UTube video on repairs for drip lines...it was fantastic..thank you! I have another question, though..I hope this site is still active and that you can get back to me. I have a drip line leak at the site where the emitter line is plugged into the 1/2' drip line. The water is coming out pretty good around the site - but yet the feed tube line is not easy to pull out so I'm guessing that the hole isn't overly big???. I'm not sure what to do about this. There is always enough water to puddle up so it's a significant leak. Thanks for any help. bette



Thanks for writing. In my experience, this happens when the emitter is not quite seated all the way into the 1/2" tube. The little barb edge on the emitter has to go all the way into the tube in order to make a seal. I typically push the emitter in and then tug on it to make sure the barb has gone through the wall of the larger tube, basically wiggling it around to make it seal against the side of the tube.

It could be, too, that the whole is just a bit misshapen. If adjusting the emitter doesn't work, it might be easier to simply plug that existing hole and punch a new one nearby. The make little plugs to do that, although is the hole is the issue then even the plug might not work well.

I hope this helps. Give it a try and let me know.



Here is the YouTube video mentioned in this email...






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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bird Nest with paint chips

Bird Nest with paint chip

Bird Nest with paint chip,
originally uploaded by dewelch.
One small sign of how our actions can effect the world around us.

It looks like someone in the neighborhood was scraping and re-painting their house and this bird made it part of their nesting materials.

I believe this was a hummingbird nest judging by its size and design. I noticed it today as I was typing up some vines on one of our arbors.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

A slow Saturday

It was a High-Tech/High-Touch day today. (See this Career Tip for a further explanation) I walked to do some errands and grab lunch and then came home to do some more work both at the computer and in the garden. After that I found myself alternating between the computer and the garden. I think this helps me keep fresh and productive. Too much of any one thing can burn you out.

I had walked up to get some new address numbers for the house at the local hardware chain. That was a simple task and then it back to the computer for a while. Then, looking out my office window, I saw a bird feeder that had been broken for months. I had noticed how I could fix it, but never got around to it. So, off to the garage for the drill and a screwdriver. It didn't take long so I took the time to clean the feeder and re-stock all the feeders before returning to the computer.

A short time later, I wanted to turn on the soaker hoses in the front garden, so I grabbed my wiggle hoe and spent some time getting the grass out of the walkways in the front garden. This is always such a chore and this year it seems even worse. We haven't had much rain, but I think my wife has been running the sprinklers (which spray paths and beds alike) more often. This helps with the shrubs but leaves us with a lot of grass, too. After a few painful minutes hoeing the paths I had had enough. I cleaned the few weeds out of the new lavender bed and then headed back inside for dinner.

One concept that has been rattling around in my mind lately is that of slowing down. Too often, in the garden, I find myself rushing to complete the task instead of engaging in it. Slowing down means I might not finish a task completely, like pulling all the grass, but I do a better job and enjoy it more. I tried to apply that a little today. While I didn't do it all, I certainly got something done and no one says you have to complete the task in one sitting. As long as it gets completed, what does it really matter.

I am going to try and do a bit more tomorrow in the same fashion -- a little here and a little there -- and see what happens. Wish me luck!

Keep digging!

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Video: Taking out a Tree

Time to remove a small pine tree that was in the wrong spot in the garden. This is a continuation of the "editing" since we bought this house 12 years ago.

I had to go out and buy a bow saw to complete this job. My wife, Rosanne, had trimmed off all the limbs., but couldn't get through the trunk. It was quick work once I had the right tool.

All the debris from the tree was run through out chipper/shredder and the mulch is already spread on the tomato and rose beds.

Not a bad days work overall.



iPod Ready Video




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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Video: Rose Montage from the O'Connell's Garden

We were visiting friends today -- sitting around the pool and munching on summer foods -- and their roses caught my eye. I spent a few minutes capturing the video for this montage, just wandering from bush to bush and taking it all in.



iPod Ready Video

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Video: Tomato Update - July 14, 2008

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Project: Trommel Compost Sifter from Instructables.com

This looks like a neat device to help out with the compost sifting chores. It would certainly be an improvement over my makeshift compost sifter seen in my video, Compost is Ready!

Trommel Compost Sifter

This Instructable shows how to build a trommel (rotary screen) for sifting compost or shredded leaves. The purpose of sifting is to separate coarse unfinished compost materials from the finished product or to separate out trash and debris from other organic materials before use in the garden. My c...


By: SteveGerber

(Via explore.)

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Elsewhere Online: Summer reading for gardeners from Digging

The high heat here in Los Angeles has been keeping me inside, just like Pam, the author of the "Digging" blog. I highly approve of her selections for garden reading and I find that I have already read many of them myself.

If the weather is keeping you out of the garden, engage in some virtual gardening via these books.

You can find some of my own recommendation for gardening books, in The WelchWrite Bookstore.

Summer reading for gardeners

With Austin on track for our hottest summer on record, I’ve sworn off any real gardening for the pleasures of garden book reading—inside, preferably under a ceiling fan with a cold Diet Dr. Pepper in my hand. Recent trips to Barnes & Noble and Half-Price Books have netted me about 10 lbs. of eye-candy-filled garden [...]

(Via Digging.)

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Tearing down the trellis

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Elsewhere Online: Trench composting saves the day

Jane Perrone, over at Horticultural has a post on trench composting and it sounds interesting. I have much more waste than a typical compost pile can accomodate, so I might think about adding a trench or two to my garden instead of sending out tons of leaf mold, etc in the garden bin.

Googles Search: Trench Composting

Trench composting saves the day As fellow composter Simon Sherlock pointed out in the comments to my previous post, it will be some time before my new worm composter can take all my kitchen waste. Add too much in the early stages and the worms won't be able to eat it before some of the stuff putrefies, making the worms unhappy, and possibly dead. I forgot to say earlier that my solution to the excess kitchen waste problem, now that my allotment site has banned it from compost heaps, is trench composting. I am assuming the powers that be won't object because in trench composting,...

(Via Horticultural.)

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Wisteria trim and other small tasks

Finally took a few moments this afternoon to clean all the "whippy" growth off the wisteria before it starts it growth for the year. I have been meaning to do this for a while, but circumstances finally provided the time and I provided the inclination. I wanted to get outdoors for a little today. It is cool, but very nice outside and it seemed a waste to spend the entire day indoors.

I saw a few more things I have to attack in the next couple of days. After a long time, and 2 new full compost bins, I am finally getting down to the compost at the bottom of our old bin. There is some good stuff there, I will probably sift out what I can and use it to top dress the roses for their Spring growth, too. Some might go on the new lavender bed, too. I bought the wire cloth to make a compost sifter ages ago and it looks like I am finally ready to put it to use, I will take some video when I am making/using it.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Video: Garden Fork TV - http://gardenfork.tv

A few weeks ago, after finding nothing on broadcast television I wanted to watch, I went in search of more video podcasts to fill the void. One of the shows I have fallen in love with is Garden Fork TV with Eric Rochow. He covers everything from making Pasta Carbonara to fixing the shackle on his old pickup to building raised planting bed.

This is exactly what television should be -- engaging, educational and comfortable. To many traditional media shows are over-produced and glassy and lose any real heart they might have. Garden Fork TV is the antithesis, while still being great entertainment. Erik is more personalable than almost any host on television today and he's never afraid to show the everyday reality of gardening, video production and life.

Then, of course, there are the dogs!

Check out Garden Fork TV directly from the web site or subscribe using iTunes.


Watch this compilation video from the first 50 episodes and you'll get a great idea what the show is about.



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This guy has way too much fun with pumpkins!

I came across Tom Nardone and his ExtremePumpkins.com while wandering the Internet for Halloween ideas. As I said in the title of this post, he has waaaaaay to much fun with pumpkins.

Stop by and check out his website for a few ways to get into the Halloween spirit this year.

Along with his pumpkin carving hints he shows you how to have your pumpkin belch fire, how to carve a pumpkin in one swing of a hammer and more. Nardone even as a book of the same name -- Extreme Pumpkins: Diabolical Do-It-Yourself Designs to Amuse Your Friends and Scare Your Neighbors.


Check out this video with the author!



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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Elsewhere Online: How to build a rain water collector

Heck, I'd almost build one of these if there was any expectation of rain in the next 12 months.

I am sure we will get some rain this Winter, but prospects don't look good. Then again, maybe I SHOULD build one of these so I can capture what little we do it.

Decisions, decisions...


How to build a rain water collector

In this instructable, I will show how I made a rainwater collection system to water my garden. This helps to conserve water and make good use of a free and renewable resource.



Note that this involves using many different tools and proper safety precautions should always be taken.

The beginning -...

By: iPodGuy

(Via explore.)


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Monday, October 08, 2007

Elsewhere Online: The Urban Compost Tumber

Cold Climate Gardening has an excellent and in-depth review of one type of tumbling composter that we have all heard about. Can this help improve your compost production/ Definitely worth a read. Lots of pictures, too!

The Urban Compost Tumber Readers of this blog know I tend to get absorbed in the details of garden projects. But somehow the making of compost has been immune to such obsessions. To my mind, compost just happens. I...


(Continues)

(Via Cold Climate Gardening.)


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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Autumn in the Garden and more! - October 6, 2007

by Douglas E. Welch, agn@welchwrite.com
Reader/Listener Line - 818-804-5049



In this show, I talk about our long, dry summer, an early rain, Autumn beginning and a rat in the compost (Oh, my!)

What's happening in your garden? Let me know by calling the listener line at 818-804-5049 and leaving a message. I just might use it in the podcast.

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Listen to the Podcast

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

Support A Gardener's Notebook:

Join AGN Mailing List | iTunes Review | Digg.com | Podcast Alley | Call the Reader/Listener Line @ 818-804-5049



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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Introduction to Cottage Gardens - VideoJug.com

I have often contemplated a cottage garden retrofit to my garden and this video offers some great insight.



VideoJug: An Introduction To Cottage Gardens


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Friday, May 11, 2007

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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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: itís 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, donít 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. Thatís 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, donít 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. Iíve 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. Iíve 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 ďCreating a Garden That Attracts WildlifeĒ on AnimalBytes.net.

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Monday, April 30, 2007

Audio: Interview on "Chrysalis" by Kim Todd (Audio)

I came across this interesting edition of Tech Nation while listening to podcasts today. When we are gardening, it always pays to learn more about the other creatures that inhabit our gardens.

I love both science and biography, so I immediately requested this book from my local library. The podcast, though, gives an excellent introduction to the book and definitely worth a listen.
Tech Nation with Moira Gunn - Click to listen

Dr. Moira Gunn speaks with Kim Todd, who in her book "Chrysalis" recounts the tale of Maria Sibylla Merian and her documentation of the secrets of metamorphosis.
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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Today's 10-minute Gardening Time

I am trying to split my time between the front garden and the back. Things don't look horrible, but the gardening face I am presenting to my neighbors could be better. Today, I cleaned up the leaf litter from most of the driveway, filling an entire green garden waste bin. Overall, I spent about 30 minutes.

One of the most important lessons I am learning, is to know when to say enough. I could have spent hours in the garden, but the fact is my back won't take it and I have other things that must be done. It can be so difficult to stop before you are officially "done" with a task. This is where most of us go astray and push ourselves a bit too hard.

The truth is, while I didn't get "all" the leaf litter, I did get "most" of it and that will be a large amount that won't have to deal with next time. This will also allow me to use the leaf blower (electric, thank you) to clean up whatever is left.

Overall, another successful bit of work in the garden.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

10-Minute Gardener Update

I took my own advice and talked a couple of 10-minute projects today.

First, I swept the leaves from one portion of the driveway area. The wind piles up the leaves in this particular sector, so this had a lot of effect for fairly little effort. I am still dealing with a lot of leaf litter throughout the garden, but the next step is probably a complete "blow" of the garden using the electric leaf blower. This takes a but more time and energy on my part, though.

Second, I repaired the geranium pot that hangs from the eaves of the front porch. A few weeks ago, one of its rope supports gave way and it had been sitting on the stoop since then. A little rope from the leftovers in the garage, though, and I had it back in its rightful position in about 10 minutes.

Both of these projects are the perfect type for the 10-Minute Gardener. They were discrete little actions that needed doing -- that I could complete in about 10 minutes. Tomorrow, I need to do the same thing -- and the next, and the next and the next.

Previously in the 10-Minute Gardener Series
Removing Friction
Today's 10 Minutes in the Garden
Introduction

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Elsewhere Online: How to Make a Garden Feel Welcoming

I received in this excellent article today as part of the Fine Gardening newsletter. It has the warm feeling of someone giving you a tour of their garden, something I always love.

Great ideas, too.

How to Make a Garden Feel Welcoming by Gordon Hayward

Use furnishings to create familiarity, invite lingering, and give a sense of coherence

Objects and structures can make a garden feel inviting and personal. A weathered birdbath (B on Site plan) passed on from the author's grandmother enhances a hosta bed.

Every time I walk past the 75-year-old birdbath in our garden here in southern Vermont, I recall when I first saw that cast-stone ornament as a boy in my late grandmother's garden near Oyster Bay, Long Island. It sat in the center of a boxwood-edged rose garden that was crisscrossed with crushed-oyster-shell paths. While visitors to our garden don't know what associations I hold with that birdbath, they can tell that it's old, that it anchors the broad curve of a hosta bed, and that birds do surely visit it. Objects such as this, rife with history and meaning, make our garden feel personal, anchored, and peaceful.

(Continues)

(Via Fine Gardening.)


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Friday, April 06, 2007

Don't let your garden water go down the drain....

LA Frog makes note of one of my pet peeves, wasted water in our desert environment and provides a bit of the history of Los Angeles and its water.

I, too, hate when I see sprinklers watering sidewalks and driveways, and watching all that liquid gold run down the street into the nearest storm drain. This is one reason why, when we bought our house 10 years ago, I converted 95% of the irrigation systems to soaker hoses and drip systems. Both if these put the water right where it is needed. This also helps to reduce weed growth, since paths and such receive no water, expect from our infrequent rains.

I only have one traditional sprinkler system -- an old set of retrofitted lawn sprinklers in the front garden. We run it as infrequently as possible and most of the plants there mainly azaleas -- have naturalized enough to not need much supplemental watering.

If only I could convince others to get rid of their lawns and the water they require, we would all be better off.

California Water Wars When I drive through residential neighborhoods, and I see water flushing the streets from the garden hosing systems, I sometimes wonder if people even remember that the true nature of Los Angeles is to be a dry, desert land. And that bringing water to the city came at stupendous costs.

It's impossible to summarize the history of the Los Angeles aqueduct -- and the subsequent water wars -- in a

(Via LA Frog.)


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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Book: Melissa's Great Book of Produce

A geek in one thing, a geek in all things, I guess and here is a book for all the gardening and food geeks out there. I came across those book while trolling the sorting shelves at my local library. It is one of the best finds I have made in a while.

Melissa's Great Book of Produce: Everything you need to know about fresh fruits and vegetables is a information-filled and gorgeously photographed tome on produce both familiar and strange. For each piece of produce you get information on buying, storage use and even a few recipes along the way. There are some items in here I have never heard of before and it is great to get information on those I have heard of, but never encountered.

A wonderful book for the kitchen or the couch, Melissa's Great Book of Produce will surely expand your knowledge and, most likely, your appetite.

Highly Recommended

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Friday, March 30, 2007

AGN Video: Windy

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Review: Flower Confidential by Amy Stewart

How much thought do you give to those flowers you pass in the grocery store aisle? Do you know where your Valentine's Day roses came from or how they got to you? For most of us, we don't know, nor rather care, but thankfully author, Amy Stewart does.

In Flower Confidential (Algonquin Books, 2007), Stewart takes us deep inside the huge and profitable business of flowers. From a lily grower in the American Northwest, to the rose fields of Ecuador she introduces us to the people, places and plants that travel all over the world to supply our human need for colorful and almost too perfect flowers.

Flower Confidential is a fun romp around the world that also holds some deep concerns. The treatment of the workers in the fields and greenhouses is an on-going issue no matter where the author visits. She also discusses how the need for a "perfect" flower that travels well and lasts long in the vase has removed their scent. It also puts us in danger of producing yet another industry focused on lowest-common denominator, where each flower looks begins to look much like every other flower.

Stewart's writing takes us along on her travels, describing people and plants alike in a visual style that gives us an understanding of who they are and what they are trying to accomplish. We feel the sense of amazement as she visits the Miami airport center where the majority of flowers enter the US. I particularly felt her desire to scoop up armloads of flowers or save those consigned to the compost heaps.

Immerse yourself in the little-known of flowers and the people who grow them. You will develop a new-found respect for what both suffer to provide that perfect arrangement for your dining room table.

Highly Recommended

Link: Flower Confidential:The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful in the Business of Flowers

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

What I'm Reading...Flower Confidential

I am into Chapter 2 in Flower Confidential by Amy Stewart and enjoying it immensely. Se starts off with visits to some big flower markers, but then dives into some hard science and an interesting profile of lily breeder, Leslie Woodriff. I forget just how much of a botany geek I am until I read something like this and get totally immersed.

Check it out!

Link: Flower Confidential:The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful in the Business of Flowers

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Event: Tomato class @ CSUN - March 11

From The Los Angeles Times, March 8, 2007...

Scott Daigre, author of "Tomatomania! How to Grow Tomatoes in Southern California," shares his strategy for planting and selecting the best varieties, 9 to 10:30am and 11am to 12:30pm.

FREE

Cal State Northridge Botanic Garden, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge.

Registration required due to limited seating.

Email botanicgarden@csun.edu or call 818-677-3496.

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

How to be a gardener video from the BBC


Kottke.org points out this video series on Google Video -- How to be a Gardener with Alan Titchmarsh. This is a 4 hour series on gardening.

While I wish the poster had broken this series up into episodes before posting to Google Video, it is still nice to be able to see the program at all. Too much great BBC content never makes it to the US, even with BBC America on some cable systems.

The audio sync is a little wonky and the video quality is not the greatest, but again, in the case of an excellent program like this, something is better than nothing. The companion web site will give you even more information.

I look forward to seeing the benefits of this new partnership between YouTube and the BBC, BBC and YouTube partner to bring short-form BBC content to online audiences

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Event: Annual Wilmington Wisteria Festival - Mar 11

Wisteria photo from Lake Balboa, Van Nuys, CaliforniaAnnual Wilmington Wisteria Festival

A horticultural celebration that includes a walking lecture while visitors traverse the century-old Chinese and Japanese vines in the museumís garden. Guests will also be able to njoy floral and gardening displays from local designers. Lunch will be available for purchase on the park grounds of this Victorian-era home of General Phineas Banning and entertainment will be provided.

WHEN: March 11, 11:00 a.m. Ė 3:00 p.m.

SITE: Banning Residence Museum, 401 East ĎMí St., Wilmington

COST: Free

SPONSOR: City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks

INFO: 1-888-LA PARKS (527-2757), www.laparks.org

From the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department Festival Guide

Photo: Douglas E. Welch, Lake Balboa, Van Nuys, California, 2003

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