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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Potluck/Last Day of Class

If the winds have not blown you clean away, our last class meeting is this coming Sunday.  It will be short lecture and potluck.  Please have both your papers (plant paper and your journal) to turn in.  I will accept submissions electronically until midnight without penalty.  It is my intention to have your grades posted online within a seven day window. 

For potluck, bring your own plate and service ware, I'll make coffee and tea. (Let's hope the wind dies down by then!)  Local and home made are always preferred, but we all live busy lives, so there is no hard and fast rule.

You have been sent a link by Extension to do a course evaluation.  Please go to the link and fill out the form.  I use these forms to improve the course - I read them and take them seriously.  It is your chance to impact how this course is taught and what is taught in it.  I would be grateful if you would fill the form out with an eye towards making it a better course.  If you have criticism of the course, or me, what could be done to improve the course, or me?  I appreciate your comments.  

And, nothing to do with my evaluations - this has been a great class!  I'm grateful to have had the chance to interact with all of you.  You were magnificent in asking questions and drawing out what you wanted to learn!  Thank you for being such inquisitive students and a great group of people!  It would please me to see any of you in any class I teach in the coming terms!


Friday, November 25, 2011

Another Blow to Monsanto: Roundup Pesticide Linked to Serious Soil Damage

It's hard not to gloat (so pardon me while I gloat).  This bit of news comes from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), one of the most serious apologists for Monsanto and proponents of the myth of 'get big or get out' and all the mega-argri-business model of farming that has wrecked the environment, destroyed the economy of middle America, de-populated the small towns and made farming a joke of what it once was. 

We will hear a lot more about this as the evidence comes in.  As an organic grower from the early '70's when the organic movement didn't have the science to back us up, I can assure one and all that this is but the very beginning of the avalanche of damning reports Monsanto will have to face in the coming years.  

The destruction of the soil and the critters in the soil alone make the use of Roundup a practice that should never have been tolerated.  To join that with  'genetic engineering' that was essential to make a 'working' scheme, was merely a marketing project undertaken by Monsanto to sell more and more Roundup.  There was no thought as to what this would do to the people who used these products, no thought of the damage inflicted on the environment, no consideration of what might happen to the people who consumed these products, no thought about economic consequences for anyone else but Monsanto - the evidence is in the lack of study undertaken on these ramifications BEFORE the marketing of their poisons.  
This country cannot continue to trust the corporations to care for the citizens and the idea that government's oversight on industry is costing jobs is as silly as the idea that having a clean environment is bad for business.  Both are lies on their face as seen through this example of Monsanto and their greed obtained at the cost of human misery.  

You simply cannot trust the company that made DDT and Agent Orange to be responsible or ethical.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Food Gardening: Shrubs, Vines & Perennials






Jerusalem artichokes
Onions, walking and others


Blueberries (Southern Highbush, low chill) – to about 4 feet, prefer acidic soils and lots of water. Other than that, easy to grow
Ribes sp.


Berries/Rasp and black, boysenberry, currants, Gooseberry
Passion fruit

The following herbs are perennial as well:

Anise hyssop
Some basils
Burnet, salad
Lemon Verbena
Sweet margoram
Oregano, Greek (Origanum heracleoticum)
Tarragon, French

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Class Goes On; Dress To Survive

It was not bravado.  As it states in the syllabus, class goes on regardless of weather and I will be there and teaching.  I am attempting to locate a classroom on campus where we will have a lecture and warm food.  If it is not actually coming down in torrents, we will visit a bee hive, open it up and inspect it.  If warranted we will add frames to it.  

Dress to keep warm and dry.


"Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get." 
Mark Twain

Monday, October 24, 2011

Label GMOs website

For more information please check out this website

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Dress Warm Today


The weather for the garden shows a high of  67°  - overcast.  It will be a good day to work hard, unfortunately, we've scheduled a couple of guest lecturers so we will be doing more sitting than working.  


Monday, September 26, 2011

Some Suggested Varieties for the Fall/Winter Garden

Artichokes (a perennial)

Green Globe – one of the more productive varieties, Green Globe is usually one of the varieties available in the farmers' markets and groceries.
Violetto – is not so often seen in the market. Not quite as productive but still quite acceptable. Like the name implies, it has a good splash of purple in it. Each leaf tip possesses its very own, very sharp spine which makes eating them an exercise in alertness. They are worth it.


Burpee’s Golden – there was a time when 'Burpee' was synonymous with seeds for the home gardener. While this is no longer true, way back there in that faraway time, Burpee bred a lot of wonderful crops that we still find useful today. This beet has lower germination rates than other beets, but boy oh boy: They are worth it! From the mere fact that they don't bleed red beet juice all over your fingers (and clothes!), Golden beets are very sweet. Sauté in orange juice. Pickle.
Chiogga – another heirloom. Very productive and sweet, not as sweet as the Golden, but running a close second. One of these beets, cut in half before being cooked, reveals alternating rings of a light red and white. They keep those alternating rings when roasted. A lovely side dish!


Nutribud (58 days) DeCicco (48 to 85 days?) and Waltham (85 days) are the heirloom varieties available today. Of these two, Nutribud is the best for container gardening but performs well in the garden too. The days listed behind each variety are the 'days to harvest' from the catalogs. This refers to an approximate day by which you may expect to harvest the broccoli heads from the day you set them into the ground (transplanted out). It is an estimate only – weather conditions and other factors speed it up or slow it down, but in these four varieties above you have the idea that DeCicco might come in first and Waltham last, all other things being equal. Broccoli is a wonderful home garden crop that keeps on giving over a long time with side shoots. For that alone, I prefer broccoli to the other cole crops and I give it more space accordingly.

Brussels Sprouts

Long Island Improved – 80 - 115 days. Brussels Sprouts are a largish plant but have the added advantage of providing a rather continuous harvest over many weeks. They also can be a pain if they get aphids or whitefly because they are very difficult to police and really tough to clean up to eat. But like broccoli, it does produce over a long season. If you are willing to fight off the aphids, it does make for some good eating! Roast 'em on the grill...


Danish Ballhead – A late season cabbage – not so good for containers, but a reliable producer for those who wish to preserve some of their cabbage. Note that all these cabbages are not savoyed cabbages. Those crinkled leaves of the savoyed variety hold dirt and also make very opportune homes for slugs – and one gets a lot of slugs in long season cabbage anyway.
Early Jersey Wakefield gets you a cabbage in about 70 days and performs acceptably in containers.
Mammoth Red– You'll get a 7 pound head in about 90 days, so it's not fast, but a few plants ought to keep you happy in red cabbage for a long time.


There are many different colors of carrots to think about growing – Pinetree Garden Seeds sells a carrot mix that includes a number of different varieties and colors! Most of these colors are old varieties that were shelved when popular opinion decided all carrots should be orange.
St. Valery – old time variety that is delicious main crop carrot. The only reason to grow this and not Scarlet Nantes is a personal choice – they are both good and produce well.
Danvers – sometimes called 'Danvers Half Long' is the selection for those who plan on juicing most of their carrots.
Paris Market – is the one to grow in pots. It's a little half-dollar sized ball of a carrot. You'll also see it called Parris Round.


Early Snowball – is an open-pollinated and is the earliest and tastiest of all the cauliflowers available. Other varieties are out there that are tasty but I think this one takes less work and compares well with the others. I am not a huge cauliflower eater – Mark Twain said, “Cauliflower is cabbage that's gone to college,” and for my money, I get more from cabbage or from broccoli.


Large Prague Celeriac – I'm not even going to list celery. In our climate, I don't think it's possible to get a sweet celery that isn't as tough as a sisal rope! Celeriac, on the other hand, has that delicious celery taste, is easy to grow and works as well as or better than celery in soups and other dishes. You can't fill it with peanut butter or cream cheese like you can celery, but how healthy is that anyway? And if that's the only advantage, stick with celeriac!


Five Color Silverbeet – All the chards taste about the same to me, so I like to plant this chard to get all the different colors – some of them are quite wild. (Australians call chard “silverbeet” which is a nod to the fact that chard and beets are the same exact species of plant.) Dependable and beautiful, you can't beat this one in the garden or the kitchen. But all the chards are good producers and keep giving into the summer in our climate. Start finding recipes for it, you'll need them!


Slo-Bolt – Holds slightly better than older varieties in heat (cilantro does not like to grow in heat) and the plants are a little larger for a better and longer harvest. Try growing it in some afternoon shade with extra water. Successive sowings help somewhat, but it's near impossible to have cilantro when you have tomatoes. I know, it's sad.

Fava Beans

Windsor – Though not the only fava out there, this one is probably the premier fava bean for a home garden. Not for those of us with very little garden space, a typical fava plant can get to be four and half feet tall or more. One plant, happily tended, will provide enough fava beans for two folks unless they really intend to chow down on favas! (Fresh grated parmesan cheese on fresh raw fava bean seeds marks you as a dedicated fava eater and you will need more than one plant!)

Florence Fennel (bulbing)

Fino – Usually used raw or cooked in Italian cuisine for its sweet, anise-like flavor, don't let it go to seed or you'll have this all over your garden as well.


This is a long season crop, plant in Fall for next Summer's harvest.
Chesnok Red – The three varieties listed here are all heirloom varieties. This variety doesn't store so well, but the taste it holds even after cooking is worth the trade off!
Music – A slightly spicy, incredibly flavorful garlic, this is one of the most popular types around.
Spanish Roja – I have grown this hard neck garlic for years – one of the finest flavored garlics I know. Not just hotter, the subtle tones that weave through the taste allows this garlic to compare to the common garlic in the supermarket equal in flavor as a fine Cabernet compared to a 'box of wine.'


Dinosaur Also called Tuscan Black Palm or Lacinato. A unique kale with very large, rounded, well filled, meaty leaves. Plants are large, hardy, and vigorous, and the flavor, if you like it is 'bold' and if you don't like it, it's 'overwhelming.'
Nero di Toscano – A three feet tall plant with dark, meaty, puckered leaves, the color of a blue spruce. The striking ornamental leaves have a fine flavor harvested young and cooked simply in olive oil.


King Richard – This leek grows nicely in our winter and quickly makes a decently edible leek in something like three months. To get a longer white part of the root, bring up the soil around the base of the plant – if you do, you will be rewarded with more usable root.


Many more varieties than you can shake a stick at – or grow a mix! There are many different colors and types, get as many as you have room for! I usually can't keep myself to less than 10 varieties at a time! Almost all of them are open-pollinated varieties and all are a gift from God!


Like garlic, these are long season plants. Look for “short-day” varieties, though most catalogs don't specify long or short day varieties so much these days.
Italian Red Torpedo – Peaceful Valley Farm Supply has these as 'sets;' young plants to set out. This is my very favorite onion. Onions are slow by seed but I've had wonderful success and may offer my own seedlings for sale this year. This is simply the best tasting onion you can get – on the grill, to die for! You might grow others that keep better in storage as well, but don't pass on these!


Italian Flat Leaf – A brighter, more intense flavor, though you will find the curly leaved varieties just as easy to grow in Los Angeles. The flat leaf is easier to dry for summer use.


Super Sugar Snap – I admit that I've mostly given up on peas. They take lot of space and don't exactly over-produce, they get mildew and croak early and I'd rather grow another row of fava beans which are much more productive. Eat the whole pea with these and skip the shelling.


Yukon Gold – A ton of varieties are available, Peaceful Valley Farm Supply will have seed potatoes available in mid-October; try purple and red potatoes – they are less than super performers this close to the ocean, but oh how yummy!


French Breakfast – The standard radish for dependable crops. All radishes are easy to grow and are very quick to harvest – usually around 20-25 days.


Bonilla – Onions are a hassle (and don't really cost that much in the market), shallots are easy to grow and replace the expensive shallots one would need to buy at the store. This hybrid shallot is quick and easy from seed. I got a remarkably good crop with little effort in my first year to grow them -even though I got them in rather late! Dried, they make a good long term storage item.


America – A semi-savoyed spinach. Most of the spinach we remember from way back were all savoyed spinaches, but savoyed (wrinkled), holds dirt better than smooth; I'm all for leaving the savoyed spinaches behind.
Bloomsdale Long-Standing – this was such a great improvement in old spinach varieties for the precise reason that 'long-standing' was not a quality of spinach – and this variety will still bolt at the drop of a hat and carries a hat in case one needs to be dropped. One hot day and you can loose the whole crop. Spinach is one crop I can take or leave.


Purple Top White Globe – Will get to be the size of a small foreign country if you let them, but they are better when small. This is THE turnip we think of when we picture a turnip in our minds.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Class Assignment For Week Two

1.  Write me an email from the email account where you prefer to receive my emails.
2.  Bring a one pint, clean jar with a lid to the next class meeting.

Thank you,

Class Syllabus for Modern Backyard Food Production

UPDATED 25 September 2011
Course Number: Biology X 489.6  

Instructor: David King


There are no prerequisites for this course, although some experience with gardening will prove useful.

All classes meet at The Learning Garden on the Venice High School campus where it can be hot and cold by turns – but reliably MUCH COOLER than other parts of Los Angeles. For your own comfort, please bring a sweater or coat to every class meeting. We will have access to a classroom for really rainy days; class will meet regardless of the weather. Expect to get wet or cold as we will be outside whenever possible.

The production, packaging, and transportation of food are large contributors to our global carbon emissions. Throughout the Los Angeles Basin, food gardens have sprung up to produce local healthy and nutritious fruits and vegetables while contributing energy and financial savings in difficult economic times. Using the history of growing food in the city in times of need as a template, this course explores how homegrown food can reduce your food budget and address environmental concerns. Participants each have a small plot for growing food where they can experiment with new ideas and enjoy their harvest. Topics include fruit trees, vegetables, and berries that do well in our climate as well as often overlooked food-producing perennials and how to grow food in modern city lots where the "back forty" describes square feet and not acres.

Textbooks Required:

Title Sunset Western Garden Book
Author Brenzel, Kathleen Norris (Editor)
Edition Feb. 2007
Publisher Sunset Books
ISBN 978-0376039170
Title: Growing Food In Southern California
Author King, David
Edition October 2011
Publisher Wobbly Press
ISBN Not yet available - but by class meeting two!  Price unknown this second...

Textbooks, Recommended:

Title The Kitchen Garden
Author Thompson, Sylvia
Edition First
Publisher Bantam Books
ISBN 0-553-08138-1
*(She has a companion cookbook that is worth investigation too!)
Title Heirloom Vegetable Gardening
Author Weaver, William Woys
Edition First
Publisher Henry Holt
ISBN 0-8050-4025-0
Impossible to find – out of print
Title Pests of Landscape Trees and Shrubs: An Integrated Pest Management Guide
Author Dreistadt, Steve H.
Edition 2nd
Publisher Univ of California Agriculture & Natural Resources
ISBN 978-1879906617
Title The Resilient Gardener

Author Deppe, Carol
Edition First
Publisher Chelsea Green
ISBN 978-1603580311

There will be no assigned reading from these books, except Growing Food In Southern California. The rest of the literature as references, will prove invaluable to any serious student in this field. There will be bibliographies describing other books as the quarter progresses, I am a ferocious reader and not at all shy about suggesting books I like.

Course Schedule:

25 September*
Introduction/History of Food Gardening/Introduction to Soils
02 October
Tools/Garden Tour/ Plot Assignment
09 October
Timing and Design
16 October
Soil Preparation/Composting
23 October
Sustainability and Food Issues in Modern America
30 October
06 November
Planting/Companions/Crop Rotation in a Small Garden
13 November
Perennials/Bulbs as a part of your food supply
20 November
Home orchard/Vines
27 November
Planning for Continuous Harvests
(Syllabus may be changed as needed to reflect reality.)

* Please note the first class meeting will be truncated to two hours. The instructor has been chosen for an award and we need to end before three in order for him to get there! We will choose to extend two classes for one hour or four classes for half an hour in order to make up instructional time. The class will choose the manner in which we will make up the two hours.

Point Assignment Structure

Class participation
Garden Journal
1 page write-up*
Planting Project
* A sample one-page write up is the final page of this syllabus.

Office hours are by appointment only – please call or email me. I am willing to meet with you; I want you to learn and not struggle. Please do not hesitate to call me, rather than try to talk to me in class when I can't really give you undivided attention. Extra points are available if you need to earn more credit.

Every week, Pamela Nears and or myself will prepare some seasonal food to eat. There are no places to buy food while in class and we are here for four hours. Students are encouraged to bring in food to share with the class at all meetings. The last meeting we will have a potluck where we will all share food cooked – local and fresh! (That's the point, right?)

The Learning Garden is open daily, 10 to 5:00 PM, every day but Monday and Tuesday. You are welcome to come here and work on your plot or just come and hang out. It's always best to call ahead to make sure I'm here as sometimes I have errands or chances off campus to earn money.

Criteria for your garden plot grade:
  1. You should experiment and try something you have never done – explore!
  2. Your plot and adjacent pathways should be cleared of weeds.
  3. Your plot and adjacent pathways should be well mulched.
  4. Your plot should be attractive and be growing some food.
  5. Your journal should indicate you learned something from the plot.

The person who starts from seed vs. bringing in already growing plants, will have plants not nearly as far along as the others – but still stands to make a better grade if they have experimented with growing from seed – I am more interested that you LEARN in this class – just doing what you already have done doesn't teach you anything. We are all gardeners here, if we don't have patience yet, we soon will. Cultivate patience with your plants while in The Learning Garden. At the very least, indulge me until I have assigned your grade.

All handouts (including this syllabus) will be available on a blog site:

In fact, it will have your assignment for next week. Please do this before you come to class.
BEETS Beta vulgaris
Botanical Information:
Chenopodiaceae, Goosefoot family
4 to 8” tall
Growing Season:
Spring, Fall and Winter
Seed to Harvest:
8 weeks or more
Spacing: 3” on a side
Seeds store: ~4

Choice Varieties: Chioggia, Burpee's Golden,

The sweet roots of beets are often over- looked because of their 'earthy' taste. The problem with most beets on dinner tables these days is that they've been out of the ground for a very long time – the earthiness overtakes the sweetness. These two beets, the Italian Chioggia and the Golden Beet from W. Atlee Burpee Co. breeding program in the late 1800's, are among the sweetest vegetables in any garden!

Starting the seeds: Direct sow in the garden, a short row every week or so all through the cool season

Growing: Keep the moisture as even as possible. Mulch the beets as soon as possible – don't cover their leaves, but bring the compost as close to the plants as you can without covering the leaves. Cut off the leaves of any that are too close together – throw the baby leaves in salads. Do try to give them enough space to make an edible root, an inch or so for those who want baby beets, two or more for larger roots.

Harvesting: Pull roots as you need them. Beets do not have to be pulled all at once and will hold in the garden for a few weeks – longer if it's cool out.

Preparation and Using: Beet greens can be used just the same as chard – they are, in fact, the same species, one bred for a root and the other for its leaves. They taste pretty much the same and can be cooked the same or used raw in salads.
Today, most folks don't realize that American sugar was beet sugar until the mid 1900's when we switched to 'pure cane sugar.' The roots, though, should be just par-boiled enough to get the skins to slip off. Slice them into convenient slices and sauté in orange juice until slightly al denté. This is a wonderfully sweet side dish. Cut red beets into heart shapes before sautéing and serve on Valentine's Day or another significant holiday for your love.

Problems: Not much in our climate, although snails will eat the baby leaves as they emerge.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Quote I Promised All At the Potluck

A garden, where one may enter in and forget the whole world, cannot be made in  a week, nor a month nor year; it must be planned for, waited for, and loved into being.

Chinese Proverb

Friday, August 12, 2011

Field Trip to John T. Lyle Center, Saturday August 13th

View Larger Map

Our last class field trip is this Saturday, 9:30 AM, at the John T. Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies, 4105 West University Drive, Pomona CA 91768, phone: 909.869.5155.  This is an inspiring site tying a lot of what we have been talking about all quarter into one stupendous array of buildings, technologies, gardens and design features, pointing to the way to a manner of sustainable living that can be replicated far and wide.   I think this is an exceptional venue for our class to meet and hope you will all make it. 

Remember:  Next week's meeting will be at the usual time but held at The Learning Garden.  Be prepared to turn in your projects - I will accept them until midnight if submitted via email.  Please send your projects to my email only - Orchid and I will meet for grading, so once is enough!  It will be a potluck, with something you have made being preferred, but we do understand the vagaries of modern life and we aren't grading your dish. We will want to tie together the course and explore what will be next on your agenda as you continue in your gardening and sustainability quest.

I'll have my cell phone if you need help getting to the site.


Friday, August 5, 2011

04 August Lecture Notes from David

Here is the promised post from the 04 August lecture.

I have left out invasive species whenever I could identify them. This is not an exhaustive list; I relied heavily on Trees and hrubs for Dry California Landscapes by Bob Perry, although I left out most California Native Plants because that's Orchid's bailiwick and I don't want to step on her toes...

Most of these plants are deciduous – they loose their leaves as a response to lack of water... deciduousness is a hard sell in LA...

01 - Acacia baileyana Bailey Acacia, Feathery, finely cut, blue-gray leaves, yellow fragrant flowers, to 30 feet. Attractive shrub or small tree – excellent for accent, slopes and background plantings. Very very showy yelllow flower balls – Jan to March. Prone to litter and built up dead branches as it ages, but consistent, prudent pruning will mitigate a lot of that. Still, has a reputation for being cranky and I swear I have seen fireblight take morethan one of these out – it has naturalized along the coast by Monterrey and that's not a good thing – plant deep in the city and not near the WUI.

02 – Acacia cultriformis Rounded shrub to a small tree, about 10-15' tall and equal wingspan. Showy yellow flowers Jan – March. Can be formally hedged and like almost all acacia's, is adapted to drought conditions.

03 - Agonis flexuosa Peppermint tree – Sunset says this is one of the best small trees for California gardens! 25 to 35 feet tall, spreading to 15 to 30 feet wide. Leaves smell like peppermint when crushed. Responds well to pruning, is highly adaptable; can be used as a yard specimen, background plant, espalier and a street tree. Small white flowers, May and June. An Australian tree related to Melaleuca and Leptospermum, both of which are really drought tolerant.
04 – Arbutus unedo Strawberry Tree – 10-25' tall with equal spread – evergreen tree or shrub. Reg-brown bark on trucks that twist and gnarl with age – flowers Oct to Jan, red to yellow fruit late Fall to winter... relatively slow growing which means 'low maintenance'
05 - Bauhinia purpurea (syn. B. variegata) Purple Orchid Tree – semi-evergreen to deciduous shrub or tree, attractive tree 20-35’ tall spectacular street tree in places where spring is dependably warm – of all the Bauhinia's this one is the least thirsty. B. x bakeana has larger flowers and color from cranberry, through purple and rose to orchid pink.

06 – Bougainvillea

07 - Broussonetia papyrifera – Paper Mulberry, deciduous tree that can is somewhat drought tolerant – Sunset describes it as moderately fast to 50’, then says “often considerably smaller and shrublike in gardens while the LA City Street guide, calls it 20 to 40’ needs moderate pruning – can be subject of sucker growth in cultivated and/or wet gardens – inner bark was used to make paper – once established takes little water.

Most alders and birches are water suckers and should not be considered for dry landscapes. Even Alnus rhombifolia, the native  species is riparian and is not suitable for drought resistant gardening.

08 – Cercidium microphyllum – (syn. Parkinsonia microphyllum) Littleleaf Palo Verde, or Yellow Palo Verde – 20 feet tall, extremely drought tolerant, pale yellow flowers – a completely underutilized tree in our landscapes – lovely! Also C. flloridum, Blue Palo Verde.

09 Cercis occidentalis – Western Redbud, small tree or shrub, 10-18’ notched blue-green 3” leaves seedpods, which are magenta in summer… foliage turns light yellow or red in fall, bare branches with reddish brown seedpods look cool in winter – under used because of deciduousness

10 - Chilopsis linearis – Dessert Willow or Desert Catalpa - 15-30’ tall, 10-20’ wide, like most humans, develops shaggy and twisting bark with age, fragrant trumpet shaped blooms similar to small cattleya orchids and attracts hummingbirds

11 - Dodonaea viscosa – the other Dondonaea are more tropical, but this one is from SW US and takes any kind of soil, ocean wind and dry desert heat. Lovely.

12 Dodonaea viscosa in a pot....

13 - Echium candicans (E. fastuosum) Pride of Madeira. Large plants to 6' and to 10' wide. Great spikes of clusters of blue to purple flowers. Can be invasive and should not be planted near wild areas – self sows 'joyously' and will naturalize!!!

14 - Eucalpytus macrocarpa– some 700 species, and most of them are large tree, with brittle wood. Sprawling and awkward, but showy – useful as an espalier on a sunny fence or wall.

15 Feijoa sellowiana (syn. Acca sellowiana) Pineapple Guava Large multi-stemmed plant, 18-25' with equal spread if not pruned, can take lots of training and pruning – espalier, screen or hedge or small tree. Blooms in late spring, flowers are edible in fruit salads or made into jams, is drought tolerant but best fruiting comes with some water. Soft fruit reminiscent of pineapple – other wise bland.

17 - Fremontodendron californicum – to 20' tall, 12' wide Spectacular in bloom and steal the show; Hillside planting is recommend because any water out of their water season can be fatal. Short-lived under even ideal conditions, but oh what a bloom!

18 - Garryana elliptica – Coast silk tassel – slow growing drought tolerant native to the Coast Ranges 10-20' high and as wide, can be trained as a small tree usually seen as a climbing shrub – stunning in bloom – James Roof cultivar is the one to get

19 – Geijera parviflora, Australian Willow 25-30’ tall and 20’ wide, but casts light shade, trouble free patio or street tree, needs very little pruning. Deep noninvasive roots..

20 - Gossypium arboreum – Tree Cotton a lovely small tree, about 12 feet tall, 5 wide. Needs annual pruning to maximize its look – reportedly not long lived. Yellow flowers fade to mauve then black before dehissing and forming a cotton boll. Will produce cotton almost year round. Great conversation piece , hummingbirds will use the cotton for nests.

20A - Grevillea robusta – Silk Oak tree – Australian – popular tree – look up to about the 4th floor to see the golden flowers. Picturesque against the skyline. Many folks allergic to their golden orange flowers – lots of litter. Although I find it lovely to look at as I drive along, I believe

Slide 21 – Hymenosporum flavum, Sweet Shade – a pittosporum family member, graceful upright narrow tree early summer flowers have an orange-honey fragrance that is a knock out. Frequent pinching of tip growth is necessary for a stronger more dense plant. Poor in strong winds. Moderate water.

21 Hyptis emoryi - Desert Lavender an evergreen shrub – little to no water Erect to 10' and up to 8' wide. Woolly gray roundish leaves Tiny blue-violet flowers can bloom any time through out the year, but usually in Spring. Pleasant lavender fragrance.

22 – Laurus nobilis, Sweet bay 12 – 40’ tall and as wide – not fussy about soil except needs good drainage – will adapt to container culture - moderate water
Slide 23 – Leptospermum laevigatum Australian Tea Tree – usually a shrub, but can be pruned into a smallish tree – 10-30’ tall and as wide, oval or teardrop shaped dull green to gray-green leaves, if allowed to go grow to full sized (vs. constant hedging) they develop picturesque shaggy, gray-brown trunks with a definite muscular look, can be used as a screen or even clipped hedge.

Slide 25 – Luma apiculata Chilean Myrtle tree – to 20’ tall and wide – dense foliage, older trees develop beautiful smooth cinnamon colored bark, ½” wide flowers, white to pinkish in late summer to early fall

26 - Lyonothamnus floribundus – Catalina Ironwood – Seldom seen in cultivation, Red brown bark peals off in strips, reddish young twigs. Leaves are divided into lobed leaflets making a pleasing appearance. Needs excellent drainage. Handsome in groves and best near the coast

27 - Lysiloma microphylla thonberi (L. thornberi) Fern of the Desert – native to Arizona's foothills – to 15' tall and wide finely cut leaves like acacia -0 masses of 1” creamy white clusters of flowers like little puffballs followed by brown flat seedpods – takes pruning for a more formal look

28 - Mahonia aquifolium – Organ Grape Can take any exposure – best with late shade in hottest climes – easy to grow and good looking all year – foliage can be prickly so avoid setting them near pathways – fruits attract birds.

*Melaleuca sp – more than 140 and most are pretty drought tolerant -

28B - Olneya tesota – Desert Ironwood - Sonoran Desert native 15 to 30' high with equal spread... slow grower, single or multi-trunked sweet pea flowers in late spring (Fabaceae)

29 – Prosopis pubescens Screw Bean, Mesquite - Heat Tolerance: Excellent Sun Exposure: Full sun to light shade Origin: Southern New Mexico and Texas, west to northern Baja California, throughout much of southeastern California, southern Nevada, eastern Arizona, and extreme southwestern Utah, mostly in river bottoms Growth Habits: Thorny deciduous tree or shrub, up to 25 feet tall (7.5 m), 25 feet spread (7.5 m) Watering Needs: Little water can be used as a thorny hedge plant or pruned into a small specimen tree… Rod shaped yellow flowers in late spring.
Rod shaped yellow flowers in late spring.

34 – P. lusitanica – Portugal Laurel From Spain and Portugal… densely branched shrub 10-20’ high and wide… Very glossy, oval dark green leaves – creamy white small flowers in 5-10” spikes in spring and early summer. Attractive background/screen slow growing! Tolerant of heat, drought, strong sunlight, wind. Little or no water… ‘Variegata’ has leaves with narrow irregular white margins and fruit that ripens from brightish red to black.

35 & 36 – Psorothamnus spinosus (Dalea spinosa) Smoke Tree – Native to desert washes, small leafless tree with brilliant lavender flowers from April to June, 10-20’ tall to 10-15’ wide; sparsely foliaged in small hairy white leaves that drop in early spring; slivery gray spiny branches; leafless plant supposedly resembles a cloud of smoke… Fragrant sweet pea shaped flowers in spring… Cut branches in and out of bloom are impressive in floral arrangements. Easily started from seed in warm weather if not found in the trade. Needs good drainage and little other care.

45 – Robinia neomexicana, New Mexican Locust – from a genus of mostly larger trees, is a thorny plant to 6’ tall and as wide… drooping 6” pink flower clusters – gorgeous compound leaves

*Rosmarinius officinalis – Rosemary and lavender (Lavendula spp.) lives longer on less water – otherwise shortlived in gardens

Salvias – the California natives have lower water requirements than the exotics look for S. apiana, leucophylla and others

49– Simmondsia chinensis Jojoba, goatnut tree – Native to the Southern CA, AZ and Mexican deserts, Fruit’s high oil content makes it a prized crop for skin and cosmetic use. Useful as informal or clipped hedge, or a foundation plant in a desert garden. Hard to find in the trade at times.Simmondsia chinensis – jojoba – deserts of California to 6' high – dioeceous, females bear a large edible nutlike fruit tastes a little bit like a filbert – high oil content make this fruit a cash crop for cosmetics etc.

51 - Tecomaria capensis (also Tecoma capensis) Cape Honeysuckle to 30' by about 8' wide – honeysuckle flowers attract hummingbirds – needs little water but is reluctant to stop growing and will engulf a small home in a season

52 – Vitex agnus-castus, Chasteberry – Chaste Tree – deciduous small tree or shrub – variable habit from specimen to specimen – Native to the Mediterranean to Asia. Can grow to a 25’ tall and wide tree – most are much more shrubby, can be trained into a multi-stemmed tree. Aromatic leaves are palmately compound and some cultivars, such as the one pictured here are quite showy. Thrives in heat, makes a good plant in the back of a shrub border. You can cut the plants like a perennial to 1’ foot high in spring, blooms on new growth

58 – Zizyphus jujuba Chinese Date Tree - Small or medium sized tree, can grow up to 40’ more usually about 15-20’ tall. Trees are deciduous and are deciduous in cold months. Jujube's are fairly adaptable, but should be grown in full sun. They can stand extremely hot desert temperatures, as well as cold temperatures to -25F. They are very tolerant of drought, but moderate to heavy watering should be provided during growth season to ensure the best fruit. Flowers bloom in summer, followed by fall ripening fruit. The hard "nut" inside the fruit contains two seeds. Pinnately compound leaves are quite showy for a small tree.

Fruit and nut trees are often less water suckers than many common ornamentals. Among them:

Almonds, Apples, Apricots, Filberts (Hazelnuts), Pears, Persimmons, a number of oak species, including natives,

Thursday, July 21, 2011

River Field Trip This Saturday

View Larger Map
We will be meeting at the intersection of Laurelgrove Avenue and Valleyheart Drive, at 10 AM. In the book, Down by The Los Angeles River by Joe Linton, it is supposedly found on Thomas Guide page 562 in the F5 grid – if you are still using a Thomas Guide. For more modern folks, the Google map will be more helpful.  (You can search on Google or MapQuest by intersection, you don't need a street number.)

Dress according to the weather, which by all I hear, will be stinking hot and bring enough water.  

The river channel here is concrete, this is a great place to walk and see native plants. It is popular with pedestrians, joggers, and dogwalkers.

For those of you interested in the Los Angeles River, this guide by Joe Linton is a fantastic resource for field trips all along the length of LA River and tributaries. It's really a tour guide to our own river with suggestions for hikes, walks and bike rides. Interesting art and watering holes nearby are frequently mentioned. I have found a lot of wonderful 'things to do' in this book and my copy is well worn.

We will probably be finished by noon.

There is a secondary tour later in the day for those who can't make the instructor sponsored tour at 10. I'm sure Roger, with the signs and his familiarity of the river's ecology, will do a marvelous job. 


Friday, July 15, 2011

Bibliography for Sustainability

Deep Economy, The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future, McKibben, Bill, ©2007 Times Books Want a dose of hope? Here. McKibben has delved into a variety of alternative choices to find examples of human civilizations that actually approach creating a viable economy and lifestyle that considerably reduce man’s impact on the world
Easy Green Living, Loux, Renée ©2008, Rodale Inc. Breeziness belying a difficult resource book that will help you shop through the sustainable hype. A compendium of little helpful hints (the Heloise of our time?) and deciphering clues of labels and claims. She covers everything from the bathroom to light bulbs and beyond, helping delineate what the labels mean with all those fifteen syllable words on them.
In Defense of Food, An Eaters’ Manifesto, Pollan, Michael, ©2008, Penguin Press; This is the ‘sequel’ to The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. Both of these books, with Pollan’s inimitable style present the way our current food production damages our ecosystem and our health! ‘Dilemma’ bares the scars on our earth and ‘Defense’ reveals how our personal health has been compromised by the promise of ‘cheap food.’ It aint cheap and it aint food.

Kitchen Literacy, Vileisis, Ann, ©2008 Island Press, Along the lines of the Pollan books, Vileisis brings us back to the knowledge every cook had in days before we let the ‘experts’ and the government tell us what to eat and why. Turns out it was better for us and for the earth.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle Kingsolver, Barbara et al © 2007 Harper Collins, When less is really more. Kingsolver and her family agree to eat only foods produced within 100 miles of their West Virginia home (everyone was allowed one exception and her husband chose coffee marking him as a sensible man) for one year. The story of how they did it and the results they achieved makes delightful reading and food for thought.
The Live Earth Global Warming Survival Handbook, De Rothschild, David, ©2007, Rodale Inc. A lot of statistics that just overwhelm a person, but a viable list of Things To Do Today and beyond. Probably one of the more easily digested books of this contemporary genre.
The Lost Language of Plants, Buhner, Stephen Harrod, ©2002 Chelsea Green Publishing Getting well should not get the earth sick. This is the ecological ‘why’ of alternative medicine, but be warned, you will never look as a fashionable layer of mascara the same way again either!


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Garden/Garden Field Trip

garden/garden on a Google map
A show of hands tonight in class made it obvious that moving the field trip to the afternoon impacted fewer folks than holding it in the morning; hence the field trip time is officially 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM - covering the three hours of instruction you have paid for.  We will begin with Orchid telling us about the plants at garden/garden, 1724 & 1718 Pearl St. Santa Monica, CA 90405.  Before the visit, a perusal of the website about garden/garden might prove instructive.

We will be there for approximately an hour and a half and then move down to The Learning Garden at the intersection of Walgrove Avenue and Venice Blvd.  The entrance to the Garden is the first gate on your left off Walgrove, south of Venice Blvd.  It is but a few minutes drive from garden/garden.  

At The Learning Garden Orchid and I will have a question and answer session. I will introduce everyone to drip irrigation - we will see one drip installation and talk about the pro's and con's of drip irrigation and actually work with parts of a system to get a feel for it; we will also discuss other watering strategies.  Those who want to may take a tour of The Learning Garden and learn more about what we do there.  

I hope to see everyone there who can make it - those who can't should get in contact with me at your earliest convenience to set up times to do at least some of the field trip at The Learning Garden.

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