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Friday, July 20, 2012

Greener Gardens Second Field Trip, July 21, 2012

GardenGarden is the beginning of the field trip at 10 AM.  We will meet in front of these two 'homes' at  1724 & 1718 Pearl St., Santa Monica, CA 90405.  

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A visit to the GardenGarden web site before our trip would be useful and is encouraged.

Our next stop, from GardenGarden, we will go to The Learning Garden, a short drive away.  Proceed East on Pearl to 23rd Street and make a right.  After several blocks (going down hill near the Santa Monica Airport), the street turns into Walgrove Avenue.  

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You'll need to reposition this map down and to the east a bit to see the Garden.

The entrance to the Garden is the first gate on your left once you have passed Venice Blvd.  You will see the Garden on your left.  Park on Walgrove, respecting the two hour parking limit because the ticket is expensive these days.  

The Garden portion is all about drip irrigation and alternatives.

At 2:30 PM the Garden will host the regular monthly meeting of the Seed Library of Los Angeles (SLOLA).  Everyone is invited to attend....  We'll talk about saving bean seeds and get updated on what we are doing about saving seeds and fighting GMOs in our food supply.

Questions?  Shoot me an email or a phone call or text.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sustainable Gardening Reading List Weeks One and Two

Overview of Sustainability and Gardening:

 Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered, Schumacher, E. F., ©1973 Blond & Briggs. This classic inspired much of the current thinking in sustainability. Although it does not relate directly to gardening, it explains the basis of the idea of natural capital. E.F Schumacher Society website: Their resource page is comprehensive.

Lazy-Bed Gardening: The Quick and Dirty Guide, Jeavons, John and Cox, Carol, ©1992 Ten Speed Press. A more accessible book than Jeavons’ “How to Grow More Vegetables: etc.” Written by pioneers in the U.S. of Biodynamic French-Intensive gardening, it tells how to create fertility on a closed-system basis, that is without inputs, by growing both calorie crops for humans and carbon crops for compost.

The Contrary Farmer, Logsdon, Gene, ©1995 Chelsea Green, and The Contrary Farmer’s Invitation to Gardening, ibid. How to garden (and farm) with the least effort and inputs possible, by someone who has been farming all his life, and fighting big ag at the same time. All of his books are worth not only reading but owning.

The Gift of Good Land: Further Essays Cultural and Agricultural, Wendell Berry, ©1981, San Francisco North Point. This prolific writer and farmer articulated the problems of the loss of small farms and the tragedy of large ones while ag policy was changing to ‘get big or get out.’

Coming Home to Eat: The Pleasures and Politics of Local Foods, Nabhan, Gary Paul, © 2002, W.W. Norton. One of the original books on eating local which inspired many others, including Barbara Kingsolver. All of his books are worth reading.

Eat More Dirt: Diverting and Instructive Tips for Growing and Tending an Organic Garden, Sandbeck, Ellen, © 2003 Broadway Books. This small book tells how to actually accomplish the act of gardening, including how to use tools, how to move big rocks, and why herbicide doesn’t work on concrete.

Sustainable Landscaping for Dummies, Dell, Owen, © 2009 For Dummies. Dell has been telling the truth about the impacts and inputs of gardening for a long time. 

A Nation of Farmers: Defeating the Food Crisis on American Soil, Astyk, Sharon and Newton, Aaron, © 2009, New Society Publishers. Explores the world food crisis and why conventional ag can't solve it., environmental news website.

David's Background 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.  Like most of the books following, this is not strictly a book on sustainability, in the main, - however, this is one of the MOST hopeful books that brings some of these issues to light.  One thing rings through out this book:  community is key to many of the answers of the future.

Easy Green Living, Loux, RenĂ©e ©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.  However, this book like all the other books in this vein are limited by what we know today - the solution we learn tomorrow may well contradict the solution we applaud to day.  Still, we have to start where we are now - we really can't start anywhere else! 

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.  This book is the history of eating dinner in America.  It also reflects on woman's role in society and the evolution of that role by virtue of how our lives have changed as regards to eating and effort of putting food on the table. 

Out of the Earth: Civilization and the Life of the Soil, Hillel, Daniel,
© 1992, University of California Press, There has been a recent spate of books on soil in the past ten years.  Preceding this glut by almost ten years, Hillel wrote the best of the lot - all the others are second rate.  Not to say they don't have a story to tell, but Hillel's book is not only science, but reads at times like poetry and his love of the subject is steeped in a deep knowledge that encourages affection and respect.  There is no other book on soil that teaches so much about soil with a deep spirituality and yet is science-based and science driven.  I truly love this book and it has been an inspiration for many years.

The Unsettling of America:  Culture and Agriculture, Berry Wendell, ©1997, Sierra Club Books,  Anything by Wendell Berry is worth reading.  Everything from Wendell Berry can be life-changing.  Wendell Berry, quirky and profound, looks at the world with a lens many of us only aspire to.  His writing is eloquent, his thinking eclectic.  Of the authors that have been instrumental in bringing me to where I am today, Berry is the one whose ability to see a much larger picture is the most constant and his range of vision deeper than anyone I can name at this moment. 

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. One of the easiest books to read on this list, not only is it inspirational and a harbinger of hope, there are some passages that I recall as being some of the funniest stuff I've read in a while.  I still can be doubled over by someone with a thick Italian accent saying, "the seeds, senora, are in the squash!"
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 most sustainable thing to do, however, is to get it from the library.  (That hold's true for all these books.)

The Lost Language of Plants, Buhner, Stephen Harrod, ©2002 Chelsea Green Publishing,  Humans 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! Buhner's message is critical and crucial.  This work shows that how we think about the earth and our relationship to it absolutely needs a comprehensive overhaul in ways most of us have yet to imagine.  I think Buhner's writing is a little obtuse, but he is the only one out there with THIS message and it must be heard.

Reading List Week Two: Books About Sustainable Design Principles

Principles of Ecological Design, Ludwig, Art, ©1989 Oasis Design, This short manual gives rules for ecological design that are both simple and profound. An excellent companion to his other books which deal with greywater and water storage.

Gaia’s Garden, Hemenway, Tony, © 2000 Chelsea Green. This is the most accessible book about Permaculture for gardeners, especially for the West Coast.

Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability, Holmgren, David, © 2002, Holmgren Design Services. A more theoretical approach to sustainable design concepts.

Permaculture: A Designers' Manual, Mollison, Bill, © 1988 Tagari Publications. This comprehensive book is the textbook for the Permaculture Design class. A reference for those who have already been introduced to the principles, as well as a dual duty doorstop and blunt instrument :-). It is on this list for the sake of comprehensiveness.

Design with Nature, McHarg, Ian, © 1982 John Wiley and Sons, Inc. This book is more a lanscape-level and regional-planning book, but has beautiful graphics and exposition about where to site projects. This book addresses the too-rarely asked question, “where is this project?” when designing.

The Power of Limits: Proportional Harmonies in Nature, Art and Architecture, Gyorgy Doczi, © 1981 Shambhala Publications, Inc. How the Fibonacci sequence and other aspects of the golden mean underlie proportions in nature, and how this has been used historically in good design.

 The previous books  address permaculture and the following, the natural farming methods of Fukuoka.  Though starting from opposite philosophies (permaculture is enthralled with the brilliance of human logic, Fukuoka tried to distance himself from human logic and rely on nature to show the way), both came to strikingly similar results. 

Fukuoka Farming Bibliography

One Straw Revolution, An Introduction to Natural Farming, Fukuoka, Masanobu ©2009, a reissue of his 1978 classic, Fukuoka's first book on his extensive work in Japan. Decidedly with a Japanese bent (his main crop is rice and barley), he still presents a lovely description of his farming efforts that began as a reaction to the Western idea of agriculture and more that began to infiltrate Japanese society in the 1930's. His work continued until his death in 2008 (at 95).  His grain raising techniques became THE grain raising techniques in permaculture.

The Natural Way of Farming: The Theory and Practice of Green Philosophy, Fukuoka, Masanobu © 1985 Also out of print. And expensive. ($61, used on Amazon) Can be downloaded as a PDF, I had success at this site, but I do not warranty it to be 100% safe from commercial interests. 

The Road Back to Nature, Fukuoka, Masanobu © 1988 Out of print, but you can find copies reasonably priced on eBay, used copies are almost $70 from Amazon. From the back cover: Fukuoka's reflections on his trips to Europe and to America, his sense of shock at seeing the destruction wreaked in the name of agriculture. A collection of his lectures, articles and essays which outline his thinking on nature, God and man and his underlying optimism that good sense can still prevail and we can still turn it all around. This is a collection of articles, lectures and essays recording his impressions as he travels the world talking about his revolutionary 'do-nothing' agricultural methods. There is a spiritual side to a lot of his thoughts and an optimism that a change in lifestyles and farming methods could yet heal the Earth's wounds.

Fundamental Realities, an article by Hazelip, Emilia was found at the Fukuoka Farming Website – but as of this writing that website is no longer in existence.  However, You Tube has several videos with Hazelip describing how she has adapted Fukuoka's principles to a Western market garden.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Field Trip Information, 07 July 2012, 1:00 PM

The Lyle Center is located on the grounds of Cal Poly Pomona; 4105 West University Drive, Pomona CA 91768. Our field trip will start just beyond the parking lot on the drive up to the Lyle Center just up the hill from the farm store (drive veers to the right).  Please be there at 1:00; we would like to start promptly.  I have not looked at the weather yet, but usually Pomona in July is hot; wear appropriate clothing and bring lots of water. 

By now all of you have gotten invitations to join our Google group - if you have not, email David with your cell phone number and the reason you are taking the class (what you hope to gain from it) ASAP so you can be added to the Group.  You do not have to be in the group if you don't want to... however, we hope to share information and also to arrange carpools for the field trips.

View Larger Map

The map is interactive so you can blow it up and use it to map your trip. There is more information on the Lyle Center at this link; you might find it helpful to review it before we get there.

After our tour, for those who wish, we will go to the Farm Store, buy a little food and share a meal together.  

Any questions, please contact the instructors as soon as you can - see you Saturday at 1:00PM!


Summer 2012 Syllabus

Instructors: David King and Orchid Black
Email: greenteach at gmail dot com /teach at nativesanctuary dot com
Phone numbers redacted

COURSE TITLE AND NUMBER: Greener Gardens: Sustainable Garden Practices 


There are no prerequisites for this course. We will meet from June 26 through August 28 for 12 meetings. There are three field trips as indicated in our schedule (below). All class meetings on campus occur 6:30 PM in Botany Bldg, Room 325 on Teuesday evenings.

Course Purpose:

Sustainability is today's buzzword and many people seek to create a lifestyle with a more favorable impact on the environment. From home gardens to school and commercial sites, our gardens present the perfect place to start. Designed for horticulture students, gardening professionals, educators, and home gardeners, this course focuses on turning your green thumb into a "greener" garden. Topics include composting, irrigation, water harvesting, water wise plants, eating and growing local produce, recycling, and moving towards a sustainable lifestyle when choosing materials and tools. Includes weekend field trips to the Los Angeles River to see our relationship with water in the L.A. Basin, as well as a native garden with sustainable features, focusing not only on California native plants but also on water-conserving planting design. Students also visit the John T. Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies at Cal Poly Pomona, which advances the principles of environmentally sustainable living through education, research, demonstration, and community outreach. This course will enable students to understand and appreciate the changes we will need to make in our gardens to achieve ‘sustainability.’ A multitude of differing strategies will be presented allowing students to choose the extent of their involvement with more sustainable gardens and, ultimately, a more sustainable life style.

Course Objectives:

  1. Understand the concept of sustainability and its relevance to the modern garden.
  2. The reasons to consider sustainability.
  3. Be able to use the concept of sustainability in the creation of a garden and its maintenance.
  4. Understand and be able to present to others the concepts and ideas of sustainability and the myriad of alternatives to an overly consumptive garden style.


This course is designed to be practical. Upon completion, students will be able to employ many different strategies to reduce consumption of water and oil-produced products and create beautiful and productive gardens that comprise a much smaller carbon footprint than most contemporary gardens.

Text for this course:

This course will not have a text. There will be an extensive bibliography from which the material presented has been gleaned; some books more practical, some books theoretical, while others present our current situation and the problems that affect our daily lives and the gardens we grow.

Course Schedule:


26 June
    Introduction to Sustainability

07 July
Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies
Afternoon field trip
10 July
Design for Conservation of Resources

17 July

21 July
Garden Garden Field Trip

24 July
Water I: Water Conservation

31 July
Water II: Water Harvesting

07 August
Sustainability of Front Yard Food

14 August
Sustainable Planting Palette

18 August
LA River Field Trip

21 August
Habitat and Hardscape

28 August
Sustainable Gardening: The Next Frontier

Your grade will be predicated on class participation and your choice of one paper of no less than 5 pages or one project (or a combination of one of each for extra credit should it be needed or desired) on aspects of sustainability; topics and project possibilities will be discussed in class. We encourage students to use their own area of interests when choosing their topic or project.

Office Hours:

We will have no set office hours, however, we will be available by phone and by email. We are willing to meet with students by appointment.

After class is usually not a very good time because that’s when all students vie for answers and we are all tired after a long day. You can get a more thoughtful answer by contacting us another time.

Updates and Handouts

For this course we will utilize a blog page ( to post handouts and extra material to the class. There is an RSS feed through which each posting is automatically forwarded to your email so you can have access to handouts whenever they are posted. This approach is most handy when dealing with field trips because links to maps can be posted and any last minute updates are easily available. If this technology is new to you, another classmate or David will guide you through it. It is not difficult.

Please provide both of us with your email address as soon as you can!

Include your cell phone number and your reason for taking this course.

Contents of this site, text and photography, are copyrighted 2009 through 2017 by David King - permission to use must be requested and given in writing.