Gardening Gift Guide #13: Joshua Roth 1516 Japanese Hori Hori Garden Landscaping Digging Tool

#13 Joshua Roth 1516 Japanese Hori Hori Garden Landscaping Digging Tool

I came across this on The Cheap Vegetable Gardener blog and immediately added it to my own Amazon wish list.

I make due with whatever I have out in the garden and having such a purpose-built tool would be very, very nice. I really need to spoil myself a bit more in that regard. (LAUGH)

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I Like This – December 5, 2010

Gardening Gift Guide #12: The $64 Tomato

#12 The $64 Tomato

Listen to the Review

It is a story as old as America itself. When we dream, we dream big. Big houses, big cars and, in the case of The $64 Tomato, big gardens. In this book, author William Alexander details his love/hate relationship with his garden. I knew I was going to love this book within the first chapter, when I found myself laughing out loud time and time again. Alexander perfectly captures the idealism and absurdity that usually accompany any home improvement project.

I must say that, after my childhood of helping my Grandmother and my Father in the garden and even, reluctantly, maintaining my own small garden plot as a child, I found it a bit ludicrous that anyone would actually set out to “design” a vegetable garden. In my experience, you usually just mark out an area, have the neighbor plow it up and disc it down, lay out some string lines and plant. Aesthetics were rarely, if ever, an issue. Now you bring in experts, test the soil, try exotic new varieties of plants and, so it seems, endure many failures.

While the book is funny, it is also a trifle sad. There is an underlying current of hubris which seems to thrive in the heart of every American. We like to think we can conquer and control anything, even nature itself, when, in reality, we can only hold back nature for short periods of time and even then, only in relatively small areas. It is also a story of having eyes too large for our stomachs. Rows and rows of zucchini that must be given away, if not forced on the neighbors. Yes, we love having fresh food from our very own gardens, but it seems we have no self-control. If “some” is good than “more” must certainly be better.

The $64 Tomato is entertaining and enlightening because it is so true. Anyone with any aspirations to gardening will recognize themselves in its pages. Gardening, like life itself, is about struggle and this book details many struggles with bugs, grass, weeds and neighbors. Even then, I can guess that these were only a small portion of the troubles that occurred in the real garden. Television writers, like my wife, constantly deal with this issue. Just because something happened in real life, often times the viewers will never believe it. I would guess there are more stories that this gardening author has yet to tell.

The saddest part, but one that rings true, is the author’s struggle in finding balance between gardening as a task and gardening as a joy. I know that I experience this every day in my own garden and I am sure you do, too. It is a rare gardener who can find joy in pulling weeds time and time again That said, don’t let the dandelions get you down. Pour a nice, cool lemonade (preferably made from your own lemons), sit back in your favorite chair and enjoy, if just for a moment, the garden you have created. While I certainly hope you don’t spend $64 for each tomato you harvest, this book can make you laugh and give you solace in the knowledge that most gardener’s are happily suffering right along with you.

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Gardening Gift Guide #11: Sunset Western Garden Book

#11 Sunset Western Garden Book

This is a perennial regular in the gift guide. I still find it an excellent reference guide specifically designed for western gardeners, like myself. A big book and a useful one.

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Gardening Gift Guide #10: Wellington Boots

#10 Wellington Boots

Our Fall and Winter rains just started here in Los Angeles but our near-desert environment doesn’t really call for “Wellies” in the garden. That said, these would be appropriate nearly anywhere else. Getting through the Winter and Spring in my hometown in Ohio would have been a whole lot easier with a set of these. If your garden or yard gets a bit wet, these would be an excellent addition to your gardening tools.

More Wellington-style boots in additional colors

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Gardening Gift Guide # 9: Wells Lamont Wet and Muddy Latex Coated Gardening Glove

# 9Wells Lamont Wet and Muddy Latex Coated Gardening Glove

If your garden gets a little muddy, these are a great addition to your gardening kit. Cloth and leather gloves can get soggy and uncomfortable much too quickly, but these gloves will allow you to work longer, with a better grip. I especially like to use them when I am potting up plants. It allows you to easily wet and mix up your potting compost without feeling you are constantly wet. They also help to keep your hands a bit warmer when working in the Fall and early Spring.

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Gardening Gift Guide # 8: Garden Crafts

# 8 Garden Crafts

I came across this book years ago, but saw it again in the library and was reminded how nice it is. There are some great ideas for nearly every type of garden, along with detailed instructions. The photography is great and really gives you a clear idea how each piece is put together and how it fits in the garden.

This book is a pleasant reminder that just because a book is a few years old doesn’t make it out of date.

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“Cookies and More” Holiday Special — We want your stories, recipes, advice and more

Cookies and More Holiday Special
A Holiday Special from WelchWrite.com

Each year I make over 80 dozen cookies and candies for our annual Cookie Party. After 15+ years of putting this party together, I have collected a lot of cookie stories, recipes and advice. This year, I am putting together “Cookies and More for the Holidays” — a New Media special full of holiday reminiscences, recipes, cookie baking tips and more… and I would like you to be a part of it.

There are several ways to participate:

  • Join us live in the “studio” to talk cookies
  • Call in live via Skype or other online media
  • Record your story, recipe, question or advice via voice mail by calling 818-804-5049
  • Post an audio or video clip to YouTube and send us the link
  • Email your story, recipe, question or advice to cookies@welchwrite.com

I am planning producing the show in mid-December, right after i have finished up all my baking for the party and reminded myself again about all the joys, trials, tips and hints of cookie baking for the holidays.

Start thinking of what you would like to add to this special. You can start sending in your emails, audio and video immediately. If you have any questions, send them cookies@welchwrite.com.

Gardening Gift Guide # 7: Coppertop Caged Bird Feeder

# 7 Coppertop Caged Bird Feeder

Birds and other wildlife are an important part of any garden. Why not give them an attractive place to feed? I have a similar bird feeder in my garden and it has stood up will to the harsh, sunny, conditions better than any plastic feeder. UV light damages plastics over time, but this copper feeder has no such issues. It is also easier to clean than a plastic feeder.

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Gardening Gift Guide # 6: Pat Welsh’s Southern California Organic Gardening: Month by Month

# 6 Pat Welsh’s Southern California Organic Gardening: Month by Month

Welsh’s previous month-by-month guide has been a constant companion in my gardening journeys over the years and it is great to see her offer this organic version. Gardening in Southern California is quite different from other areas with odd seasons, hyper-local micro-climates and a near-desert environment. The month-by-month checklists help to remind you what needs to be done when to make your garden thrive.

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