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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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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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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wind damage in my area

These pictures are a good reminder that if you don't prune the dead wood out of your trees, a good wind is liable to do it for you.

Wind Effects in LA - 4 Wind Effects in LA - 3 Wind Effects in LA - 2 Wind Effects in LA - 1

We had a strong, cold Santa Ana Wind this week and any tree that had a bit of deadwood, or weak limbs, quickly shed them into streets, yards and even on top of a couple of houses. Sometimes you can't really tell if you have dead limbs higher up in the tree, but if you see them, it is best to remove them on your terms, and not the weather's.

Here in Los Angeles, we have the additional issues of dead palm fronds. These can look light, but they can come down with surprising force on unsuspecting cars and pedestrians. I wasn't able to grab a picture, but one street I passed was almost entirely buried in palm fronds, making it difficult for cars to even get down the street.

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Friday, February 06, 2009

Elsewhere Online: How to use plant stakes correctly

iris garden plantingImage by Tie Guy II via Flickr

If you are planning on doing some planting of larger trees or shrubs in your garden, this article is a must-read before you start. I have several trees in my garden that will have to be removed very, very carefully, as they have rebar stakes deeply embedded in their trunks. This will prevent me from grinding out these stumps, should I ever need to remove these trees. Not fun. Starting your new plantings correctly is very important.

How to use Plant Stakes correctly

In most garden activities there is rarely a "RIGHT" or "WRONG" way to perform it. Yet, when it comes to applying plant stakes it pays to do it correctly. At best, a poorly applied plant stake may fail to do it's job, while at it's worst your maligned stake could injure, maim or even fatally wound the plant it was trying to help.

Read the entire article

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

End of the season

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

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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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