Photos: Liquidambar trees provide a small touch of Fall color for Los Angeles

We aren’t know for our Fall color here in Los Angeles, but the ubiquitous Liquidambar trees do provide a little. These photos are from a neighbor’s tree. 

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2012 Gift Guide: Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It by Karen Solomon

You don’t have to be a proponent of survivalist training to understand the joys of preserving what food you are giving so you can enjoy it later, usually when the food would not be available otherwise. Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It runs the gamut of preserved foods. The title says it all and then you add in salad dressing recipes, beverages, candy and more.

As with most food books I read, this one has many paper markers sticking out of the binding. There are many things I plan on trying, given half a chance. The section on making your own butter and cheese caught my eye immediately. I have been exploring making my own cordials and hard cider, so a little cheese to go along with them would be a great next steps. Of course, as harvest time arrives this year, I will be well prepared to save some of the abundant fruit for those long Winter nights in the form of jams and jellys.

Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It by Karen Solomon from Amazon.com

I first heard of this book from Eric Rochow over at Gardenfork.tv. He followed some of the recipes for making his own cheeses.

How to make cheese, ricotta cheese, queso blanco: Gardenfork.tv

Product Description from Amazon.com

Do you relish the joys of hot toast spread with your own homemade butter and jam? Love to dazzle your friends with jars and tins of choice goodies–all created by you? The kitchen is a paradise for crafty cooks, and whether you’re a newcomer to the realm of amateur artisanal edibles or a seasoned food crafter on the prowl for your next batch of appetizing challenges, Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It has recipes galore for you (75, to be exact).

Projects range from perfect pantry staples (Butter, Crackers, Pasta) to festive giftables (Toasted Walnut Brandy, Lemon Curd, Peanut Butter Cups); some give quick gratification (Mayonnaise, Rumkirschen, Potato Chips), while others reward patience (Gravlax, Ricotta Salata, Kimchee). Practical prep-ahead and storage instructions accompany each recipe, several give variations (like Caramelized Onion and Thyme Butter–yum), and most share ideas on how to use it, serve it, and give it away.

Complete with color photographs and the accumulated wisdom of author Karen Solomon’s years of food crafting, Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It is your one-stop resource for turning your culinary inspiration into a pantry full of hand-labeled, better-than-store-bought creations

Karen Solomon is a food and lifestyle writer and veteran culinary tinkerer and food crafter. She is the author of The Cheap Bastard’s Guide to San Francisco, a contributor to San Francisco magazine and the San Francisco Chronicle, and a former editor and columnist for the San Francisco Bay Guardian. She has also contributed to Chow! San Francisco Bay Area, the SF Zagat Guide, and dozens of Bay Area and national publications. She lives with her partner, son, and food-focused dachshund in (you guessed it) San Francisco, California. Reach her at www.ksolomon.com.

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
  27. Handy Farm Devices And How To Make Them (1909)
  28. Zarrella’s Hierarchy of Contagiousness: The Science, Design, and Engineering of Contagious Ideas
  29. Apple iPhone 5
  30. Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys to Creativity by Hugh MacLeod
  31. Killer Ratings by Lisa Seidman

Garden Question: What do you do during Winter/rainy “non-gardening” months?

In much of the world, Winter is a time without gardening and for some, highly addictive gardeners, these months can seem to pass oh so slowly. 

So, what do you do during these so-called “non-gardening” months in your area? Do you garden indoors or do you just sit back with the stacks of garden catalogs and simply dream the Winter away?

Let me know your plans in the comments!

Video: In the garden… Ep 003 – Tree trimming montage

“In the garden…” is a series for A Gardener’s Notebook highlighting what is happening in my garden, my friend’s gardens and California gardens throughout the seasons.

Today, a montage from the major tree trimming we had here on Wednesday.

Can’t see the video above? Watch “In the garden… Ep. 003” on YouTube


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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

Horticulture Jobs Available – Search by location and keyword

Check out our list of horticulture jobs (and others) available via SimplyHired.com.

Enter your location for jobs close to you. You can also search on other keywords.

Horticulture jobs

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