Building a Native Bee Box

My friend, Keri, has created an excellent “Bee Box” for her garden. Read the entire article at her site.

Wine box into bee box

I’ve been wanting to do this for over a year, build a nesting box for native bees and other insects. My friend Doug Welch from A Gardener’s Notebook had sent me various plans and ideas. I had a wooden wine box with a sliding lid and it seemed perfect.”

Read Building a Native Bee Box via AnimalBytes

Tip: Let the rain dampen your composter

From the gardenersnotebk Twitter account: A reminder to me by way of a reminder to you. 🙂 – Pop the top on your composter when it rains to give it a good soaking and keep it perking.

If you use an enclosed composter like I do, the next time rain is forecast, pop the top on the composter and let it get a good soaking. Here in Los Angeles it is usually so dry that the compost doesn’t work as quickly as you might like. Rather than wasting water from the standpipe, I let nature do its thing at this time of year. Rain is predicted for the next 4-5 days here so there should be plenty of opportunity.

Here are the composters I have in my back garden…

Garden Gourmet Composter on Amazon.com

Gardening Gift Guide #15: Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Western North America

#15 Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Western North America

One of my favorite parts of the garden are the birds it attracts — everything form the typical sparrows and morning doves to phoebes and even Cooper’s Hawks. The Peterson Guides are a great way to help you identify the birds in your garden and learn a little more about them. You can also take it on hikes and other outdoors adventures. You never know what you might see.

More Peterson Guides for birds, wildlife, reptiles, trees and more

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The bulbs have arrived in the garden again

I went out the back door this morning to do some work and was stopped in my track by this first paperwhite of the season. I had noticed the bulb foliage starting to pop up once we got our first rain, but the flowers always seem to arrive unannounced.

First paperwhites of the season

Here is another paperwhite next to the first including several more buds just waiting to open.

First paperwhites of the season

Finally, here are the leaves of a bunch of snowbells which are quick to follow on the paperwhites. Next up will be the big, yellow, daffodils which have started to put on quite a show each year.

Bulbs are growing

Gardening Gift Guide #14: Fiskars 3-Piece Softouch Garden Tool Set

#14 Fiskars 3-Piece Softouch Garden Tool Set

As is sometimes the case, the gardening blogger has no tools. For years I have been making do with cheap hand tools — or none at all. This set from Fiskers could be just the thing. I have been very happy with my other Fiskars tools, so I would expect these to last many seasons and not quickly break like most of the cheap tools I have had in the past.

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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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