Continuing with this month's garden websites and catalogs, let's move away from plants for a week and get into some of the hardware of gardening.
The first bit of hardware, of course, has to be a free standing or lean-to greenhouse in which to grow tomatoes and peppers. At the top of the list is the one I own from Sunglo Greenhouses, sunglowgreenhouses.com. These come in all sizes, as they are expandable. The key thing about them, other than ease of construction is that they were designed by engineers and withstand (as I can attest) 90 plus mph winds. They display at the State Fair every year and can ship your kit up in two weeks.
Charley's Greenhouse and Garden, charleysgreenhouse.com, sells a number of great greenhouse gifts and has a webalog, catalog that is fun to read. You can buy all sorts of accoutrements for a greenhouse as well, from fans and heaters to lights and hoses. If you go to the Feb. 20-24 Northwest Flower and Garden Show (gardenshow.com) you can talk with Charlie and see several of his offerings.
Two Wests and Elliott (have to love the name), twowests.co.uk, is a British site and probably doesn't sell here. Still, it has some neat looking cold frames which work well here. Master Gardeners.com, mastergardening.com, has an equally impressive selection of cold frames to study.
More and more Alaskans are constructing and enjoying ponds and water features. (Someday I will write about the great heron that ate a few of my pond's goldfish.) The granddaddy of all pond webalogs and catalogs has to be Lilypons Water Gardens, lilypons.com. It offer some instruction on design, construction and maintenance of water features and offers everything you would possible need right on down to the plants and fish (if you don't have herons hanging around).
Another great water feature site is Aquascape, aquascapeinc.com. It provides instructional videos as well as all sorts of water feature items. I am not sure if it is meant for the backyard gardener or contractors, but it has a lot of stuff to pursue from fountains to huge "lake-size" ponds.
William Tricker, Inc., tricker.com, has quite a webalog of pond supplies. They claim to be the oldest water garden specialists, dating back to 1892. They offer a tremendous amount of stuff. This is a fun stuff to dream about at the end of a cold, winter day.
Bonsai is a the art of creating miniature landscapes and features. Start here at Bonsai of Brooklyn, bonsaiofbrooklyn.com/products/supplies/index.html, and take a look at the category of supplies you will need. Eastern Leaf, http://wwweasternleaf.com/Accessories_s/6.htm, is another good site. I like the selection of trays on which to display your creations.
Bonsai Outlet, bonsaioutlet.com, as the name suggests, has everything you will need to train your own bonsai. If you click on each offering, you will get a very detail description of the product offering. A final great bonsai hardware site is Bonsai Monk, bonsaimonk.com.
Alaskans have come a long way from old shoes and boots filled with sedums as planters. Many folks are turning to large, metal, wood and stone decorative planters There are lots of choices out there. It is all a question of taste, of course and each to her own. For example, Wind and Weather, windandweather.com/outdoor-planters-and-plants/category_s2006_d1401_c9332.html, has some pretty unusual and whimsical outdoor planters and pots. Whimsical not your nature? Frontgate, frontgate.com/white-washed-teak-planter/outdoor-decor-accessories/planters-terrariums/422497, offers more traditional (and expensive) fare. Go to pronto.com and search for" planters." They have aggregated a whole bunch of container suppliers and you can go from one webalog to another all afternoon.
Finally, how about stuff for the birds? I know there is plenty of great local sources, but it is still fun to look around. Audubon Workshop, audubonworkshop.com, has almost everything you need to attract, feed and even entertain birds that you would possibly need. Another great, all-inclusive bird watching supplier is Duncradft, duncraft.com. Finally, Wingscapes, wingscapes.com, offers that neat "while you are away" motion-activated camera system as well as an autofeeder that let's you decide when to feed the birds so you can save on seed.
Keep those requests coming in to http://teamingwithmicrobes.com .
Jeff Lowenfels' is author of "Teaming With Microbes: The Organic Gardener's Guide to The Soil Food Web."
LEARN AQUAPONICS: AN ALASKA BOTANICAL GARDEN WINTER WORKSHOP, 2 P.M. SATURDAY. SIGN UP ELECTRONICALLY AT EVENTBRITE.COM/EVENT/5110024220/EORG OR CALL 770-3692.
ICE SALTING: GO EASY ON THE SALTS. SAND WORKS JUST AS WELL AND WON'T HARM PLANTS.
INDOOR PLANTS: THE LIGHT IS PICKING UP. GIVE YOUR PLANTS A 1/4 TURN EVERY FEW DAYS TO KEEP THEM FROM LEANING INTO THE LIGHT TOO MUCH.