Interested in a gardening/nature/outdoors unconference?

IMG_0180My past experiences with unconferences like BarCampLA, PodCampAZ and my own CareerCampLA started me thinking about some sort of gardening/nature/outdoors unconfererence here in the Los Angeles area (or elsewhere). I am totally sold on the concept of unconferences and their ability to facilitate sharing the knowledge we all have with each other and the world.

For a gardening unconference, I could see presentations by attendees on their own special and specific interests like roses, vegetables, sub-irrigated planters, and a host of other topics. For a nature or outdoor conference, I would be interested in bringing in interested individuals as well as groups dedicated to endangered species, habitat preservation, hiking and more.

Any interest in an unconference like this here in the Los Angeles area? Leave your questions and comments on this blog post using the Comments like above or below this post.

I Like This – February 25, 2010

Event: Tomatomania 2010

Tomatomania is coming again to Encino, California and other locations both east and west. Check out the web site for complete information.

From the Tomatomania web site…

One of Los Angeles’ oldest garden traditions meets one of its newest sensations as Tapia Brothers Farm Stand hosts the largest of the TOMATOMANIA! seedling sales.

To get there drive north on the Ventura Freeway (101N), pass the 405 fwy and exit at HAYVENHURST. Turn right at the stop, then make a quick left into the very busy parking lot.

If you’re driving south on the 101 exit at BALBOA, turn left at the stoplight, go under the freeway and then turn right on BURBANK BLVD. Turn right on HAYVENHURST and right again into the parking lot.

We’ll be open from open 9-5 all three days and there’s plenty of parking available. How many seedlings do you need? We’ll have almost 300 tomato varieties and everything you’ll need to have the most successful tomato season ever!

Wear your TOMATOMANIA! t-shirt and get 10% off your purchase!

March 26 – 28

Tapia Brothers’ Farm Stand
5251 Hayvenhurst Ave.
Encino, CA 91436
818.905.6155

Here is a video from an earlier Tomatomania event.

If you can’t see the video, click here to watch it on YouTube

I Like This – February 18, 2010

Freebies = Free Bees!

Bee Hive in Sign with annotationI spotted this swarm hive in this business sign at 5800 Van Nuys Blvd while we were out for out daily walk a week or so ago. The bees were concentrated around the point where the pole meets the sign, so I am guessing the hive is in the sign itself. I informed the manager of the lot about this group, but I am guessing these bees are in danger of extermination if something isn’t done quickly.

I posted an email to our local Backwards Beekeepers group here in Los Angeles in hopes that someone might be able to come out and save the bees for a members hive.

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The garden is going to the birds!

Over the last several years there has been a large resurgence in gardening for food in the suburban backyard. Websites, magazines and televisions seem filled with advice on getting the largest harvest from your garden, square foot gardening, converting lawns to gardens and more. Hot on the heels of this growing interest comes a new trend — one that takes the idea of gardening up to the level of farming, even in the middle of a large metropolis like New York City or Los Angeles. Leading the charge in this new trend is the idea of raising your own backyard chickens.

Here in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles, I have often seen various types of backyard livestock. Despite the fact that we are a heavily urban area, there are pockets of ranch and equestrian neighborhoods scattered throughout our city. In these areas it wasn’t that unusual to see an occasional chicken, rabbit or even a goat. That said, when our close friends divulged they were building a hen house in urban Woodland Hills, we were a bit taken aback. Then, a few years later, another friend did the same thing. Now it seems to be a national, if not international trend. Surely you couldn’t be allowed to raise chickens just down the street from the latest Chipotle or Jerry’s Famous Deli. Like most metro areas, though, this is exactly the case. Regulations vary from city to city, but most allow you to keep a few hens (no roosters, please) on your property for your own use.

As you might imagine, fresh eggs — the freshest you have ever eaten — are one big draw of backyard chickens, but there are also the benefits of reconnecting your family (especially kids) to nature.

Keri Dearborn says of her backyard chickens, “Beside providing eggs, chickens naturally recycle kitchen scraps into fertilizer. They also do something that I never expected. When they are out foraging in the yard, they create a sense of peacefulness. Just watching them explore and go about their lives had a zen feeling to it.”

Backyard chickens take time and money, though. Feed and bedding, while not overly expensive, do have a cost, but time is probably more critical.

“Chickens are early risers and go to sleep with the sun. If your days are long, you might have trouble feeding them. They prefer to see the food put down, without that visual stimulation they tend to eat less and be less healthy. They need a sturdy coop to keep out predators and just the right amount of sunlight and shade.” says Dearborn.

You won’t save money raising chickens, as feed and maintenance costs mount, but that seems beside the point.

Susie O’Connell, another Valley chicken farmer says, “It’s been a great experience for me and my kids. The jury’s still out on my husband, but even he appreciates the fresh eggs and ample chicken poop fertilizer for our garden.”

You can find extensive information about raising your own chickens on line, including the blog, Back Yard Chickens at http://www.backyardchickens.com/.

Great Backyard Bird Count Bird Walk at Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Area

My good friend, Keri Dearborn of Animalbytes.net, led us on a great walk around the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife area this morning in honor of the annual Great Backyard Bird Count this weekend. We spent 2.5 hours spotting all sorts of birds, including 2 new one’s for my life list, a Downy Woodpecker and an Osprey and also an up close look at a vulture.

Below are 6 embedded videos streamed live and recorded with my iPhone. I hope it gives you a bit of a feeling of what it was like to be out with us this morning.

Keri’s husband, Michael Lawshe, took some great photos on the walk, too.

Photos of today’s Great Backyard Bird Count Walk

Continue reading Great Backyard Bird Count Bird Walk at Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Area →

Daffodils 2010



Daffodils and more – 03, originally uploaded by dewelch.

I have been meaning to take photos of these daffodils for the last several days, but the great weather and afternoon sun finally tempted me outside.

These are some of my favorite flowers in the garden and always look so striking amid the purple lantana in the front garden.

Each year I try to plant a few more so we get a bigger show.

I Like This – February 11, 2010

I Like This – Circular Pod-Shaped Tea House is Heated by Compost

What a cool idea a great use of what would normally be waste heat — Douglas

If you’ve ever experienced composting in action, you may know that things can get pretty hot when microbes meet organic material. So what if there was a way to capture all that heat and use it to warm up a cozy little space? Tokyo based architects Bakoko have come up with a circular pod-shaped teahouse that does just that by harnessing temperatures in excess of 120°F that are generated by compost. The designers are taking a simple, biological process and turning it into a viable (and free) way to heat small public spaces like the traditional garden teahouses found all throughout Japan

From Inhabitat via Circular Pod-Shaped Tea House is Heated by Compost.