2012 Gift Guide: Handy Farm Devices And How To Make Them (1909)

Handy Farm Devices And How To Make Them (1909)

This is a great book for lost knowledge that can still be useful today. I love to try and re-use materials around my house and yard when they no longer provide their original purpose. There is information on gardening, tying knots, supporting fence posts and removing them, building walls and more. Just because information is old doesn’t mean it isn’t still useful.

More 2012 Gift Guide Items:

  1. Do the Work by Steven Pressfield
  2. Bulb Planting Tools
  3. Blue Snowball Microphone
  4. Seagate Backup Plus 500 GB USB 3.0 Portable External Hard Drive
  5. Logitech C920 HD Web Cam
  6. We Are All Weird by Seth Godin
  7. Sunset Western Garden Book – New Edition for 2012
  8. The Hobbit/The Lord of the Rings
  9. Garden Mysteries by Anthony Eglin
  10. The Creative Habit/The Collaborative Habit by Twyla Tharp
  11. Moleskeine Journals
  12. Pat Welsh’s Southern California Organic Gardening (3rd Edition): Month by Month
  13. Podcasting for Dummies/Expert Podcasting Practices for Dummies
  14. Wacom Bamboo Splash Pen Tablet
  15. Radical Careering by Sally Hogshead
  16. The $64 Tomato
  17. Blue Yeti Microphone
  18. BioLite CampStove/HomeStove
  19. Getting Things Done by David Allen
  20. The Curious Gardener
  21. Anything You Want by Derek Sivers
  22. GoPro HD HERO 3
  23. Flower Confidential by Amy Stewart
  24. The Starfish and the Spider by Orj Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom
  25. Microphone Boom Arms
  26. The Information by James Gleick

2012 Gift Guide: Flower Confidential by Amy Stewart

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

More 2012 Gift Guide Items:

  1. Do the Work by Steven Pressfield
  2. Bulb Planting Tools
  3. Blue Snowball Microphone
  4. Seagate Backup Plus 500 GB USB 3.0 Portable External Hard Drive
  5. Logitech C920 HD Web Cam
  6. We Are All Weird by Seth Godin
  7. Sunset Western Garden Book – New Edition for 2012
  8. The Hobbit/The Lord of the Rings
  9. Garden Mysteries by Anthony Eglin
  10. The Creative Habit/The Collaborative Habit by Twyla Tharp
  11. Moleskeine Journals
  12. Pat Welsh’s Southern California Organic Gardening (3rd Edition): Month by Month
  13. Podcasting for Dummies/Expert Podcasting Practices for Dummies
  14. Wacom Bamboo Splash Pen Tablet
  15. Radical Careering by Sally Hogshead
  16. The $64 Tomato
  17. Blue Yeti Microphone
  18. BioLite CampStove/HomeStove
  19. Getting Things Done by David Allen
  20. The Curious Gardener
  21. Anything You Want by Derek Sivers
  22. GoPro HD HERO 3

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Tree Trimming 2012 – 2 photos and some notes. More to come later!

It is tree trimming day here at A Gardener’s Notebook. In between dashes outside to answer questions and shoot video, I am getting a little blogging in. There will be more from today’s work in the next episode of “In the garden…” for sure.

We have mainly older, mature trees on the property, so to try and trim them ourselves is waaaaaaaay out of my league. We have delayed a bit in bringing in the tree trimmers as it can be quite expensive. In fact, we are concentrating on 5 main trees today, but we have already estimated out another visit in a month or so to handle basic pruning on 2 more in the back garden. 

This pruning will open up more of the canopy to allow for a bit more light in all areas of the garden, something that we sorely need. We lost another pine tee in this visit, too. It seems that all of the pines of this species (of which I am unsure) all succumbed to either beetle or some fungal infection around the same time. At this point it doesn’t look like our redwoods are effected, so hopefully that will remain so.

I am very happy to be able to get some of my property line trees cleaned up so they are not impinging on the neighbors house and yard. I try to be the best neighbor possible and although they had not complained, I was unhappy with how overgrown the trees had become. To paraphrase Robert Frost, “Good [trees] make good neighbors.” (LAUGH)

Tree Trimming 2012

Tree Trimming 2012

2012 Gift Guide: The Curious Gardener

The Curious Gardener

A good book takes time to read and progresses in a slow and orderly fashion, much like the garden itself. Such is the case with The Curious Gardener by Jürgen Dahl

The Curious Gardener is a collection of Dahl’s previous 3 books, much of which were originally created as weekly gardening columns. The 3 books include How to Eat a Lily (1995), The Stinking Garden (1997) and The Curious Gardener (1998). Each book is divided into easy-to-read sections, probably due to their origin as columns.

According to my library record, I have renewed this book twice, each time for 3 weeks and it is rapidly approaching time to renew it again. This means a total of 6-7 weeks to read one book. How could it possibly take so long to work through 250 pages? The fact is, this book was perfect for dipping into whenever I needed a change of pace. Its short section invited a few moments spent in the joys of gardening before returning to more mundane work. It was a gentle friend in the evenings when no more thoughts of computers or email or web pages could be processed.

It seems to happen more frequently than I would like, but I often find myself wanting to meet authors who have already passed from this world. From his writing, Dahl would have been an interesting gardening pen pal. It would have been a joy to read his columns as they were created, rather than in this final collection of his best. Still, I can enjoy the fact that his work was deemed important enough to collect and translate into English.

The Curious Gardener would be a great book for the reading chair and night stand as Fall approaches and quickly turns to Winter. You could lose yourself in the pages as snow flies and your own garden sleeps and wake with new ideas, new thoughts and a new garden come the Springtime.

More 2012 Gift Guide Items:

  1. Do the Work by Steven Pressfield
  2. Bulb Planting Tools
  3. Blue Snowball Microphone
  4. Seagate Backup Plus 500 GB USB 3.0 Portable External Hard Drive
  5. Logitech C920 HD Web Cam
  6. We Are All Weird by Seth Godin
  7. Sunset Western Garden Book – New Edition for 2012
  8. The Hobbit/The Lord of the Rings
  9. Garden Mysteries by Anthony Eglin
  10. The Creative Habit/The Collaborative Habit by Twyla Tharp
  11. Moleskeine Journals
  12. Pat Welsh’s Southern California Organic Gardening (3rd Edition): Month by Month
  13. Podcasting for Dummies/Expert Podcasting Practices for Dummies
  14. Wacom Bamboo Splash Pen Tablet
  15. Radical Careering by Sally Hogshead
  16. The $64 Tomato
  17. Blue Yeti Microphone
  18. BioLite CampStove/HomeStove
  19. Getting Things Done by David Allen

 

 

2012 Gift Guide: The $64 Tomato

The $64 Tomato

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. 

 

More 2012 Gift Guide Items:

  1. Do the Work by Steven Pressfield
  2. Bulb Planting Tools
  3. Blue Snowball Microphone
  4. Seagate Backup Plus 500 GB USB 3.0 Portable External Hard Drive
  5. Logitech C920 HD Web Cam
  6. We Are All Weird by Seth Godin
  7. Sunset Western Garden Book – New Edition for 2012
  8. The Hobbit/The Lord of the Rings
  9. Garden Mysteries by Anthony Eglin
  10. The Creative Habit/The Collaborative Habit by Twyla Tharp
  11. Moleskeine Journals
  12. Pat Welsh’s Southern California Organic Gardening (3rd Edition): Month by Month
  13. Podcasting for Dummies/Expert Podcasting Practices for Dummies
  14. Wacom Bamboo Splash Pen Tablet
  15. Radical Careering by Sally Hogshead

 

Elsewhere: Good advice about damaged trees from Trees Are Good

Tree limbs damaged by high winds

Here is some excellent advice on how to deal with damaged trees you may have on your property, especially after Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast of the US or after our blustery Santa Ana Winds here in Southern California.

First Aid Procedures for Trees
Post-Storm Damages & Treatment

CHAMPAIGN, IL – The trail of damages after a major storm truly reveals the power of Mother Nature, and the remains can be devastating, especially for trees. Unprotected, trees are vulnerable to the storm’s damages and the wounds might look fatal. However, even though major branches may be broken, foliage might be shredded, or the bark may be torn and gouged, trees have an amazing ability to recover from even the most severe cases.

First aid for damaged trees after a major storm can help trees recover, urges the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). Follow a few simple tree first aid procedures immediately after a major storm:

[…]

Read the entire article

 

First seen on Root Simple

2012 Gift Guide: Pat Welsh’s Southern California Organic Gardening (3rd Edition): Month by Month

Pat Welsh’s Southern California Organic Gardening (3rd Edition): Month by Month

This my “go-to” guide for gardening in Southern California. Our climate means that gardening happens on a different timetable here and my gardening knowledge from my childhood in Ohio doesn’t serve me very well. Television, too, seems to focus on gardening in colder sections of the United States, so their advice often can’t be followed or applied out here.

I especially live the “Month by Month” layout of the book, It gives me an easy checklist to read the month before, so I know what I should be doing in the next few weeks. This allows you to prepare what you need  — whether that means preparing your compost, purchasing seeds or plants or hiring the tree pruner.

I originally came across earlier versions of this book years ago in a small bookstore in Santa Monica and I have kept a copy ever since. Highly recommended if you are gardening in Southern California or similar climates.

More 2012 Gift Guide Items:

  1. Do the Work by Steven Pressfield
  2. Bulb Planting Tools
  3. Blue Snowball Microphone
  4. Seagate Backup Plus 500 GB USB 3.0 Portable External Hard Drive
  5. Logitech C920 HD Web Cam
  6. We Are All Weird by Seth Godin
  7. Sunset Western Garden Book – New Edition for 2012
  8. The Hobbit/The Lord of the Rings
  9. Garden Mysteries by Anthony Eglin
  10. The Creative Habit/The Collaborative Habit by Twyla Tharp
  11. Moleskeine Journals

New Book by Douglas: “From A Gardener’s Notebook”

Can’t see the video above? Watch “From A Gardener’s Notebook Book Trailer” on YouTube

My latest book is now available in the Amazon Kindle Store — “From A Gardener’s Notebook“.

This book is a collection of essays about gardening and what it means to be a gardener. I have been writing for “A Gardener’s Notebook” since 1996 and I have drawn on this extensive back history of columns and articles to create this collection. In addition, “From A Gardener’s Notebook” also includes garden hints and original artwork and photos. (14K Words)

“From A Gardener’s Notebook” is available for an introductory price of $2.99 for a limited time directly from the Amazon Kindle Store.

Purchase or Download Sample Today!

Of course, you don’t need a Kindle to read the book. You can use the Kindle Cloud Reader to read the book in you web browser or download the FREE Kindle Reader Software for you Windows or Macintosh PC, iPad, iPhone or Android tablet or Smartphone.

You can watch this video, “No Kindle Required” for more information.

In the garden…Leaves begone!

We jumped right into work this afternoon, so I didn’t get a chance to shoot any video. It was far more important to get the job done. A combination of time available and energy level led us to tackle a big, twice-a-year job — cleaning all of the leaves off the roof of the house.

At this time of year, we need to clear the roof before our annual rains arrive. We had one day of showers a few weeks ago, but the biggest rains haven’t arrived yet, thank goodness.  Here is an after picture. The before looked like 3-4 inches of leaves covering the entire roof. Not a good thing for the roof itself or for good drainage during a storm.

A leafless roof is a wonderful thing

 

Of course, all those leaves have to go somewhere, which is typically into the garden bed directly beneath that eave line — but they couldn’t stay there either. As I showed in my last “In the garden…” video, my perennial bulbs are already popping up. I didn’t want to make them work their way through a heavy layer of leaf mold to reach the sun, so together — my wife, son and I — quickly cleaned that bed, too. Here is what it looked like afterwards.

A leafless bed helps the bulbs appear

You can see some bulbs just coming up right in from the biggest agapanthus there in the middle of the photo.

So, not a bad 90 minutes work over all. We now have a large pile of leaves to run through the shredder and a few small limbs we trimmed while on the roof. The leaves will be used in the compost bins, to balance “green” kitchen waste with some partially broken down “brown” leaves and the rest will be used for top dressing some beds. The shredded leaves are excellent for weed suppression and moisture retention, we have found.

Still its more work to do this week. Tree trimmer are coming to tackle the large (and overgrown) elm in the front yard, we have some small pruning to do ourselves and there is garlic and onions that need to be put in the ground.