Tuesday, December 26, 2006


If you don't feel like crafting something out of your post-Christmas tree, there are plenty of organizations that will take and recycle... treecycle... your tree. This free service usually lasts through the first week of January.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Cool Yule Gifts for Gardeners

Here are a few things that caught this gardener's eye...

Stocking Stuffers

Oooms Wooden Memory Stick

A memory stick that actually is... a stick.

In Vitro Orchid
Test tube baby orchids... awwwwwww.

Under the Tree

WMF Expandable Flower Trivet

Colorful Birdhouse
A birder friend tells me this birdhouse is probably bird-friendly (i.e. easily cleaned and predator-resistant). It's very bad karma to buy a birdhouse that wasn't designed with birds in mind and it's sad to see so many out there. You can always call Gardener's Supply to confirm that it's safe for birds. It sure is inexpensive and cute!

Duck Bill Knife
This should be great for ripping open bags of soil, etc. Raise your hand if you stick your grubby fingers through those tiny bag holes and strain and stretch the thing until it gives.

(typing with one hand now)

Reform your gardener friend, S.O. or yourself with this tool.



Amy's book is so new it's not even out yet, but fear not because you can pre-order it, print the book cover from amazon, roll it into a scroll and tie a pretty ribboon around it. Show that special flower-lovin' someone that only the freshest, most fabulous books will do.

First update in several years; Also on the verge of being published. Remember that gift scroll idea? You know the armchair gardener in your life won't already have this one because no one does.

Give Your Gardener a Little TLC

After working in the garden, warm those cold tootsies with microwavable booties

This gardener's hand soap with pumice is the best! Scrubs away the dirt, but leaves your hands feeling soft and hydrated, not greasy or dry. If I owned a nursery, I would sooooo carry this product.

Say It With Flowers

If you need to order holiday flowers, wreaths or gift
s, consider ordering through Organic Bouquet.

Free Vase with any Holiday Bouquet!

A little Merry Christmas to farm workers, organic farmers, and that great big ball of dirt we all call home.

Also be sure to check out last year's Practical Gifts for the Avid Gardener, as well as Impractical Gifts for Garden Goofballs

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Mike McGrath's Book of Compost

Hey, this book looks fun. If you remember Mr. McGrath's writing in Organic Gardening Magazine, where he served as editor for several years, you can safely assume it's also funny... as anything compost-related should be.

Seed Catalogs got me thinkin'...

about which summer veggies I'm going to grow in Summer of '07.


Early Girl gave a steady supply of roughly 3-inch fruit with good, though not spectacular flavor. Costoluto Genovese (Thanks, Don) was my second-best producer, and was not only delicious, but beautifully ruffled. Black from Tula (Thanks Amy) had the most complex blend of flavors and a beautiful dark tint , but production slowed dramatically when summer heat kicked in. If I grow it again in '07, I will plant it in a more sheltered spot. Maybe I should rig up some shade cloth. And Sun Gold... what can I say except, "You had me at hello and you will always have a place in my garden."

As always, my desire to stick with what works is in direct conflict with my desire to try something new. Luckily, there's plenty of time to duke it out in my head. I do plan to try one of the heat-tolerant varieties, a paste tomato, and a few good slicers. And Sun Gold.


'Gold Rush' was hugely successful and delicious. Flavor, to me, was just like a yellow crookneck, but the straight neck shape made for easy slicing. I will definitely plant 'Gold Rush' again, but would like to broaden my squash horizons by trying something new. I think what I like about 'Gold Rush' is that it doesn't taste "squashy". Pumpkin pie makes me gag, and I've been too afraid to try many squash varieties. Never tried spaghetti squash because I know the odds of it tasting like spaghetti are very slim.


Bell peppers were ok, but a bit bitter. I don't know that I want to grow bells in the coming summer. 'Fresno' chili pepper was just right for homemade salsa and it didn't seem to mind our sizzling summer temps. I wonder if there's a consensus out there on the best medium hot pepper for salsa. I'm willing to be swayed.


Genovese basil seems to be preferred for fresh use and pesto. Mmmmm.... pesto. Renee's Garden Seeds has a super fun basil selection, including a new container-friendly variety called 'Italian Cameo'.

In-ground versus Containerized

While containerized veggies and herbs did best early in the growing season, they started looking stressed just when the in-ground plants kicked into gear. If you can do both, do both, but in-ground is probably a better long term investment and requires much less watering vigilance. You want to be able to get outta town every now and then, don't you?

Ok, now back to the reality of December: rain, leaves, mucky soil, frosts, freezes, Christmas shopping and cleaning for company. Fa la la la laaaaa... la la la laaaaa.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Bargains at Annie's Annuals

Just a reminder... to myself and others... that we only have until December 31 to get the 15% discount on plants at Annie's Annuals. We're nearing the end of the northern California prime planting season, but heck, I've seen plants go in the ground in January and not even blink. What? Plants don't have eyes? Oh, you sticklers...

The plain truth is that nurseries have a hard time selling non-blooming plants and right now not a lot's blooming. As long as you know what you're looking for-- or are in the mood for some surprises-- and the plant looks healthy, you can find great nursery bargains. Fall-planted trees, perennials, shrubs and cool-season annuals get an excellent head start, mostly in the form of crucial root growth, compared to those planted in Spring.

Bay Areans, you can just plant and plant and plant whenever you feel like it because you live in the land of perpetual springtime. Am I jealous? No way, Jose. Picture a San Franciscan kneeling in his garden, humming a techno-folksy tune while planting pansies and then boom, The Big One. Pansies flying, the ground undulating and perhaps opening up. Nah, Valley winters are ok by me. Valley living is ok by me. Makes me feel grounded. Literally.

I do want to make a mad dash to Annie's soon, though.

If you order online, note the following disclaimer: * Discount applied at checkout to new orders only. Does not include shipping.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Looking for custom seed packets

Anyone found a good online company selling custom seed packets where you upload your own photo and graphics? The ones I've found so far have high set-up costs and/or high minimum orders.

There has to be at least one company catering to home gardeners who want to share their seeds in a cute commercial-looking packet...

Here are a few top results from Google:

American Meadows
Earl May

Alternatively, does anyone have a nifty recipe for hand-designed seed packets using little blank envelopes/packets? Thanks.