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Monday, January 16, 2012

A Bibliography For Plant Propagaters

Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties, Deppe, Carol, ©2000, A plant breeder with a science degree and avid gardener all rolled into one, Deppe knows her stuff.. This is a lighter read than that makes it sound, but it is firmly into the science of plant breeding and she doesn’t dumb it down. A good and thorough book even if not light reading.

Creative Propagation; A Grower’s Guide, Thompson, Peter, ©1989, Timber Press, Not nearly as exhaustive as other books presented here, but if you are short on change and can only get one book this one has a lot to recommend it. Thompson covers all of it but perhaps not to the depth of other books, so it’s small and makes good reading for the attentionally challenged.

Making More Plants, Druse, Ken, ©2000, Clarkson Potter Publishing Part coffee table photo book and part text, the beauty of this book does not detract from the science it disseminates. It also could have been the text for this course, but all that delicious art work makes for an expensive book, and I am loathe to require expensive books and it lacks the extensive lists that I think make the A-Z book so valuable. However, if you have the extra moola lying around, this is a gorgeous, to drool for book and it is no slouch in details either. Druse is a knowledgeable writer who is adept at presentation and he’s made a yummy book

Plant Propagation A to Z, Growing Plants for Free, Bryant, Geoff © 2003 Firefly Books, Probably the best organized and most concise of the books presented here. I find the charts especially helpful and I like the clean easiness of the whole thing. I suggest, if you intend on propagating a lot of plants, get it in hardbound.
Plant Propagation, Browse, Philip McMillan, ©1999, Octopus Publishing, Both this book and
The Grafter’s Handbook bear the stamp of the Royal Horticultural Society, and both live up to the rigors of that group’s high standards. Like ‘Grafter’s’ it has those Englishisms, but also like ‘Grafter’s’ it is full of a wealth of information.

Seed Propagation of Native California Plants, Emery, Dara, ©1988, Santa Barbara Botanical Garden The only book I know on the growing of most California Native Plants from Seed. If going native is your bag, this is your book

Seed to Seed, Ashworth, Suzanne ©2002, Seed Savers Exchange Primarily concerned about saving seed more than planting it, this book is a wonderful introduction to the subject. The author is concerned primarily with heirloom vegetable varieties not being lost and that is the focus of the book, but the lessons she presents so eloquently are universal in dealing with any seeds. The only thing I dislike is the book’s organization by plant family which can make finding the information you want NOW a little more abstract than it needs to be.

The Complete Book of Plant Propagation, Clarke, Graham, et al, ©`992, Cassell Paperbacks A British offering and has a great little section on history of plant propagation, which is nice if you like that sort of thing – divides all plants into hardy and tender for referencing which can be arbitrary and less than helpful, but otherwise well written and illustrated. Could have just as easily been the text for the course if it had been available hardbound. (It is my conceit that all reference books have to come hardbound – they last longer.)

The Grafter’s Handbook, Garner, R. J. ©1988, Distributed in the US by Sterling Publishing First published in 1947, this book has stood the test of time. While there are some little British oddities with the English language that can confuse a little, the illustrations and the enthusiasm of the author are wonderfully clear and inspirational. This book is golden.

The Grape Grower, Rombough, Lon, ©2002, Chelsea Green Publishing If grapes are what you want to propagate, this is the definitive book on grape culture and has chapters on propagation and breeding your own grapes. A concisely written text that is a delight to read or browse.

The Home Orchard, University of California Press, ©2007, Though not really a propagation book, it has a marvelous discussion of grafting and is a one of the many really remarkable horticulture books coming out of UC’s ANR. If you are into fruit trees, this book belongs on your shelf in a handy spot.

The New Seed Starter’s Handbook, Bubel, Nancy, ©1988, Rodale Press If you want to grow from seed, this is THE authoritative text on the subject. None better, even if it’s getting a little old. I found mine for $3 or so on a throwaway shelf at Borders. It is the best three bucks I’ve ever spent. 


Friday, January 13, 2012

Plant Propagation Checklist

This is the document referred to in the syllabus.  david

Plant Propagation Checklist -

Syllabus for Plant Propagation for Gardeners


Instructor: David King
Phone: 310.722.3656

There are no prerequisites for this course, although some knowledge of basic botany is extremely helpful. We meet on Sundays from January 15 through March 18 for 10 meetings. There is one Saturday field trip.
In our field trip we will attend the WLA chapter of the California Rare Fruit Growers meeting on February 11th, from 10:00 to noon. This is the day of their annual ‘Scion Exchange’ and is not to be missed if you can help it. There is no other forum in Los Angeles that offers a better introduction to grafting!
All other meetings are on Sunday 1:30 to 4:30 PM to The Learning Garden, at the Venice High School campus. This site is close to the ocean and because we meet outside, please dress appropriate to the weather, which is invariably colder than one would imagine. We will do what we can to mitigate the cold and rain, should it come, but the material of the class is best covered with live plant material in the garden – which, of course, is outside.
We will also be working with potting soils and cut plant material in almost every single class, gloves will probably be desired. Dress so that you can comfortably get dirty and still stay dry. Dressing in layers is probably the best idea when it comes to being outdoors at The Learning Garden.

Course Purpose

This course is an introduction to the principles and practice of plant propagation, both sexual and asexual, and the science and art of grafting and budding.

Course Objectives

  1. Understand the care and safe use of tools in plant propagation.
  2. Understand the biology of sexual and asexual propagation of plants.
  3. Understand and use the different styles of propagation of plants.
  4. Be able to set up and use a plant propagation system.
  5. Demonstrate an understanding of the above by propagating different species of plants.
  6. Understand the physiology of plants sufficiently to be able to successfully bud and graft a variety of plants.


The materials presented in this course will enable the student to start plants from seeds and cuttings, in an amateur or professional setting and graft woody plants with a working understanding of the scientific underpinnings of the process.

Text for this course

Plant Propagation A to Z – Bryant; Firefly Books, 2003 It is readily available online or in the appropriate UCLA Bookstore. There will be many additional handouts from the instructor. Reading assignments in this syllabus are from this book.
Please note, The Grafter's Handbook – Garner; Cassell Publishing 2003, is no longer in print. This book (a blue cover) should you find it at a reasonable price, is a wonderful reference book for someone involved in grafting. The replacement text, Grafting and Budding – Alexander and Lewis; Landlinks Press, 2010, is not nearly as thorough and is a much less interesting book, while providing some wonderful high quality photos, where Handbook had only black and white photos and line drawings. You win some... etc. Neither of these books are required.
All material for in class will be available online at I try to not have handouts in class to avoid wasting paper printing handouts you may not care to keep and using the internet allows us to use videos (especially of grafting) from other sites you may find helpful.

Class Meetings

To each class meeting, in addition to any note-taking tools you deem necessary (paper, camera, tape recorder etc), each student should bring propagation tools that will be described in our first class meeting; please don't purchase a lot of stuff until then. You will need pruners, a grafting knife, a regular pocket knife (or one knife with two blades for different purposes), a black, permanent Sharpie, a sharp pencil and a sturdy pair of gloves – leather preferred. If you are unsure of what to buy, buy NOTHING until after the first class meeting – we will not be using most of these items until later in the course.


Your grade in this class is based on a checklist you will keep. You need to be able to perform each of the tasks on the log with sufficient skill and understanding of the process in order to receive a passing grade in this course. The completed checklist must be turned in the last day of class unless other arrangements have been made before hand with the instructor. Additional points (i.e. make up points) can be obtained by adding propagation notes to I reserve the right to administer quizzes throughout the course to insure comprehension. They will count in your participation score.

Instructor’s Office Hours

Please avail yourself of my willingness to meet with you at any time to discuss your progress in the course or to clarify instructional material or to answer any difficulties you are having. My preference is to meet with you at my office at The Learning Garden where we can cover material without distraction but I am willing to meet with students anytime, anywhere to assist you in learning; after all, that is the point your taking the class and my teaching it. It is my wish that all students learn and are profited by their enrollment in this course. Do not struggle; I am here to help.

At The Learning Garden:
THE FIRST AID KIT IS LOCATED ON TOP OF THE refrigerator in my office
Remember its location.

I’m very serious... So far only two students have had to have emergency medical treatment. I don't like adding to that number.

A garden is filled with uneven surfaces, rocks, plants with thorns and other armaments and an infinity of possibilities for injury; most of the time in this course we will be using very sharp tools which deserve your utmost attention at all times, please give due attention and consideration of this. Remain on pathways and do not walk into planted beds unless it is absolutely necessary. Do not pick anything without permission – it’s common courtesy.

A garden and the plants do not talk; I feel responsible as their spokesperson and take that responsibility seriously. You may not abuse my plants.

Food and drink are allowed, but the removal of any trash or waste is entirely incumbent on the eator and/or drinkor. I hold you responsible.

We will probably have hot tea and coffee to mitigate the cool weather we anticipate needing to endure. Bring your own cup or mug and any eating utensils you feel you need. I drink it black – if you want sugar or cream, it's on you.

Appropriate clothing is essential. Remember, Venice can be hot and cold by turns. Layering is suggested; a jacket or sweater close at hand is essential. We will meet regardless of weather. If it is a light rain/mist, we will continue work. If it is a gully-washer (as though we get those in Southern California), we will meet in a classroom or the shade house and carry on.

Point Assignment

For Credit Students. It is more important to me that you learn the material above all other considerations. I will endeavor through point assignment, lecture and demonstration to teach you in a way that will facilitate learning the material. If you aren’t understanding, please allow me to help you.

Tools You Will Need

Each student shall provide:

Pair of pruners – secateur type, like Felco #2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12 or 13. No anvil pruners allowed EXCEPT for those students with hand pain or arthritis that must use the ratcheting type of pruners. Felcos can be bought on the internet (eBay) for much less than most local sources; I am also a Felco distributor and carry several models at a very competitive price. Coronas and other secateur pruners are OK, although if you have ever used Felcos, you appreciate why I am so fond of them.

Pruning knife – only used for plants. It is suggested that everyone also have a second knife for all the other needs in a garden. If one does not plan on doing a great deal of propagation needing a sharp knife, an inexpensive knife with break-away blades available from many local stores may be used. Grafting knives and horticultural knives are also found for reasonable amounts on eBay and other internet connections; I also have a selection of inexpensive pruning knives from Swiss Army. No one should feel pressured to buy my items – I only have them because they can be hard to find locally and often all you can find are the really expensive Felcos which you don't need.

Pair of gloves – leather is preferred, some folks like to have more than one.

Sharpie – fine point, only black will not wash off

Pencil sharp, wooden (the Learning Garden does have a sharpener)

You will need to take notes, so paper is necessary – may I suggest you take notes in pencil because it won’t run if it gets wet and a pencil is a wonderful small dibber in a pinch.

The Garden (or instructor) will provide:
Cactus mix and potting soil to be used as needed
Watering devices
Root stimulating gel
Other tools and supplies as needed
Oil, sharpening devices, cleaners and rags for pruner and knife maintenance
Alcohol wipes and hand soap.
Plant material/seeds
First aid kit
Plant markers

If you forget your pruners or knife, I do have a few of each, and while I do have gloves, a pair that fits your hand is preferred (and a pair of gloves are somewhat personal too). I can sharpen your pruners and we will learn how in this course.

Lecture: Introduction – roll, Extension policy, meeting time and place, attendance and tardiness, tools etc. Tool selection and care. Sexual and asexual propagation defined. Introduction to the different propagation. Botany as applied to propagation. Planting mediums.
Demonstration: Working environment; Safety and tool use
Practical: Planting medium mixes and mixing.
Lecture: Meristematic tissue and the principles of propagation by cuttings; Pages 92-113
Demonstration: Different kinds of cuttings
Practical: Making cuttings
Lecture: General Propagation Methods and Application; Pages 47-91; pests and diseases and methodology to deal with them.
Demonstration: Division of perennials
Practical: Dividing perennial plants
Lecture: Biology of Grafting, reasons to graft and history; tools of the trade; SAFETY
Demonstration: A graft
Practical: Grafting an apple or other stone fruit
Field Trip to California Rare Fruit Growers

Lecture: More grafting and possibilities
Demonstration: Another graft & budding
Practical: More grafting
Lecture: California Native Propagation
Demonstration: Fire scarification of a California native
Practical: Transplanting seedlings
Lecture: Seeds, structure, germination and viability, collection, storage. Propagation, pages 47-74; seed starting problems and their solution.
Demonstration: Scarification/Seed sowing
Practical: Sowing seeds of different sizes
Lecture: Propagating ornamentals; Katarina's presentation NOTE: This lecture may well take place on a Saturday as a field trip to The Huntington.
Demonstration: Ornamental propagation
Practical: Propagating something unusual.
Lecture: Covering all things left uncovered.
Demonstration: As dictated by circumstances.
Practical: Work on your checklist. (Student evaluation of instructor…) FINISHING REQUIREMENTS FOR CREDIT STUDENTS

Our Class Meeting Locations

The Learning Garden

13000 Venice Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90066
310.722.3656 (my cell)
The Garden is located on the south east corner of Walgrove Avenue and Venice Blvd. It is the first gate on Walgrove south of Venice – there is a small amount of parking inside the gate, there is no other secured parking, other than those few spaces, you are on the street and on your own. DO NOT PARK ON THE CAMPUS PROPER.

California Rare Fruit Growers, West Los Angeles Chapter

Scion Exchange meeting on Feb. 10, 10:00 AM, location is TBA

Tool Suppliers:
Search online at eBay and other buying services, but the following companies, in addition to myself, reliably have the tools you need and prices that are competitive.
A.M. Leonard (AKA The Gardeners Edge) They have everything and they make good house brands of knives and pruners.
Peaceful Valley Farm Supply Felco and Corona pruners, inexpensive Swiss Army grafting knives. A good choice.
Scoring For A Grade in This Class

Class Participation

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