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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Greener Gardens: Staying in Touch

This class was a wonderful class with an inspiring drive to learn about sustainability in the garden and beyond. It definitely energized my mission to be with you during this class.

A reminder: Evaluations are due 7 days from the last class - Sept. 4. You should have received an email from UCLA to do evaluations online. Please complete these!

Finding us:

You have our emails. Feel free to drop us a line just to keep us apprised of your projects.

David can be found at the Learning Garden, at SLOLA,, and online at Beautiful Food, LA Garden and the Learning Garden Almost Daily.  SLOLA meets at the Learning Garden on the third Saturday of every month except in December and all of you are welcome to attend.  Although you have given him your email address, you have not been added to any of his many email lists - you must ask to be on the lists.  Upcoming at The Learning Garden will be the annual Pesto Day - September 22, 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM - for a mere ten bucks you get pasta with fresh pesto from the Garden, an Italian salad, Italian sausage and Italian bread and lemonade served with an Italian accent.

Orchid can be found at the monthly meetings of CNPS-SGM at Eaton Canyon (CNPS evening program meetings are free to the public, as are many CNPS hikes), on the interwebs at Native Sanctuary, and at every native plant sale this fall (TPF, RSABG, CNPS-SGM). She will be lecturing September 20 and giving a tour of a native garden October 4 for the Arboretum, as well as speaking at the symposium At Home with Natives 2012: Solutions for Nature-Friendly Landscaping, Saturday, October 13, at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo. This lecture will reprise the "water" powerpoint of our class for those who missed it, along with some irrigation thoughts. All three events have a charge. To find other lectures or native plant resources, follow the Native Sanctuary blog.


Monday, August 20, 2012

More On The LA River & Other Notes

Here we are on our own river Adventure, Mia, and possibly others hiding behind Orchid's hat:  

Pretty good looking class if I say so myself.

At the same time, this was happening just upstream from us, I found this blog article interesting and it makes me want to do the kayaking thing sooner rather than later.

Also FoLAR - Friends of the Los Angeles River - be aware that when you visit their page, a duck comes on and quacks at you - could prove embarrassing on the office computer:

To go out on the river,, they say they are 'sold out' and the waiting list is full, but when I signed up for their email notices, the first one said I might be able to get in... just a little ambiguity there...

This coming class on Tuesday (the 21st) Orchid and I will spend time answering questions about projects for the course and outline our final meetings.  Please come with ideas for a project.  Remember, we want you to expand and explore sustainability in the areas that excite you.  We want a little reach to explore new ideas and to expose yourself to a challenge.  We do not want you to undertake to rewrite the Federal Tax Code to make it encourage sustainable practices, although there would be extra-credit if you did (double extra credit if you can do it with a 12 point font under five pages!).  

PROJECTS ARE DUE BEFORE MIDNIGHT OF OUR LAST CLASS (if you are emailing them... hand delivered projects are due at the last class meeting)... I hope that's clear.  

Program note:  Our last meeting will NOT be at UCLA.  We will meet at our regular time at The Learning Garden for a potluck...   Shine up your tastebuds!


Friday, August 17, 2012

Field Trip to the LA River

Tomorrow is our field trip to the LA River.  We are going to a place on the river near Glendale.  The main reason to spend this time at the river is to acquaint ourselves with this tremendous resource that has been alternately abused and neglected; sometimes abused with neglect, sometimes just abused and sometimes just neglected.  Discussions abound about what to do with the river and I hope we take a few minutes to speculate about what the LA River could be like and how it could be a resource again; preferably ecologically so.

The address is 3900 Chevy Chase Drive, Los Angeles, 90039.

View Larger Map  

I have never been here before, so I will try to be early and available by phone to guide anyone in who might get lost; you have my cell phone.  (NB, if you've ever received an email from me, it's in my signature.)

For those of you interested in n afternoon activities, there is the SLOLA meeting at 2:30 - held in The Learning Garden; you've all been there so no map is required.  Abbreviated bios of the two speakers are, as follows:

Jeffrey Smith, Director, Institute for Responsible Technology, and the leading consumer advocate promoting healthier non-GMO choices; author of the world's bestselling and #1 rated book on the health dangers of GMOs, Seeds of Deception.

Tom Newmark, Board Member, Greenpeace, Inc. USA. He is a founder of Sacred Seeds, a sanctuary in Costa Rica dedicated to conserving medicinal plants across the globe. He lives in Costa Rica and we are privileged to have him join Jeffrey Smith.

I promised in class to post the trailer to Jeffrey Smith's movie.  This is it here: 

If, on the other hand, you haven't had enough of me, I'm speaking at another event in support of National Honey Bee Awareness Day:

Located in the Band shell (someone asked me where the 'clamshell' was) behind the LA Library at Corinth and Santa Monica Boulevard, there is ample parking in large lots to the south and UCLA Extension Gardening & Horticulture will be there raffling one free admission to my Fall course.  

Map here:  

View Larger Map

Orchid and I will see you in the morning!  


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Perennials/Bulbs as a part of your food supply

(This will only address those plants that are truly a perennial and ones that we grow as perennials. There are number of our vegetables that are perennial in their climate, but we grow them as annuals – usually – in our climate. These are treated as annuals elsewhere.)

Perennial food needs to be an integral part of any food system. Perennials provide stability to the food supply, not needing to be planted all the time. They form association with fungi in the soil rather than bacteria using a more diversified soil ecology and greater resilience. Perennials add another delicious component to meals. Annual plants are harder on the gardener because they must be replanted every year. They are harder on the soil because they must grow quickly to full size and produce food within their growing season. A perennial, comparatively speaking, grows to full size and produces food at an almost leisurely pace.

Not being plants you remove from the soil every year allows the ground underneath them to develop long term associations that don't get disrupted every year. These plants are very important to the permaculture gardener as they form major parts of the food forest canopy.

Their importance cannot be minimized. Wes Jackson's Land Institute is working on perennial grains like wheat that will stand year after year in the field and eliminate a lot of the destructive planting and tilling we do annually in order to grow wheat, barley and other cereal crops.

A perennial is any plant that lives for several growing seasons and is not a tree. (A tree is a perennial, but we usually refer to trees as trees and use the word “perennial” to describe any plant that lives for several seasons and is not a tree.) Because they will live for many years, planting them requires more thought and careful consideration. The area must be kept weed free for many of these plants.


We have already been planting garlic, leeks, onions, shallots and onions. There are perennial onions – as follows:
Multipliers – these onions that grow by dividing – you plant one large bulb, and net many smaller bulbs. Shallots and potato onions are in this class. Some gardeners leave the bulbs in the ground to multiply and that probably works best if you have the room. If you don't, things get a little bit more difficult: You lift the bulbs at harvest time, divide them into bulbs you will eat and those you will replant. We have talked about growling shallots from seed or from sets – it's tough to do this kind of planting in SoCal because to get the bulbs to last until it's time to plant them again is tough: they should be stored in a dark and cool spot – something that is a little hard to find in Southern California. These multipliers are best for cooking – they are a little pungent for fresh eating.
Topset onions. Often called Egyptian onions or walking onions, they produce leafy green stalks with small bulblets forming on the top. If bulblets are not harvested, the leaves bend over allowing the onion to drop to the ground and root – so the onions move a little every year, hence the name 'walking onion.' When left in the ground, this onion increases in size. Harvest the bulblets and plant them individually in fall (if bulblets are very small, don't separate them before planting). Mild, tender young leaves (with no bulblets) over the winter can be used like green onions. The small bulblets make tasty pickles. The bulbs normally are left in the ground, but some can be harvested. Since their flavor is very strong, they're best cooked.
Chives – Common chives and garlic chives (sometimes called Chinese chives) grow 12 to 24 inches tall with lavender-pink flowers in spring, and a mild green onion flavor. Simply snip off lengths of leaves with scissors. The Chinese chives with their pronounced garlicky flavor (and aroma) are used in Chinese medicine as one of their healing herbs in addition to being a culinary herb.

Other bulbs we can plant include one of the most expensive spices in the world: Crocus sativus, Saffron. Easy to grow – and easy to misplace! – these crocus bulbs produce the bright yellow/orange stamens that are valued as a spice and also to dye the robes of Buddhist monks.


Often called 'herbacious' perennials, just above the ground are the herbs we commonly use and are so familiar with, they need no introduction: thyme, rosemary, oregano, and others are members of the mint family, including several delicious varieties of mint and are easy to grow. There are oodles of varieties of each, especially of thyme, and each of us will need to find the varieties that float our boat. When it comes to oregano, I've got my love and I proselytize its flavor to any one who will listen: Origanum heracleoticum – Greek oregano, which has a deeper, more complex flavor than the typical Origanum vulgare. As regards thyme, many of the more attractive thymes have added flavors, like lemon-thyme, lime-thyme and even orange-thyme. These are easy to grow in pots and in the ground – they need only ample water and some shade on the hottest days.

Horseradish is similar to herbs in that it is used primarily as a condiment – and, like herbs, it is an easy plant to cultivate, in fact, I've heard folks say it is nigh to impossible to get rid of, although I have gotten rid of it twice – once when I was trying to not get rid of it, so I think in our climate, with our lack of water, we have to keep it watered and shelter it a bit more than you can in other parts of the county. Bury a piece of root in decent soil and you'll see the leaves up shortly. Harvest by digging a bit of the root, peel and clean it, cut in cubes and whiz it in the Cuisinart and mix with white vinegar, adding more vinegar if you need to cut the heat. Do this in a well-ventilated room (outdoors?) as your body will respond as if you were slicing up very potent onions. Unless you dig vigorously you probably wont get out all the roots which will insure you still have horseradish growing. It has a reputation for spreading into nearby beds, so it should be treated with care. Keep it in a pot in the ground if this concerns you, or remain vigilant and count on luck. I cannot imagine a person with one horseradish plant not having enough for an entire block – so if you grow one, share it enthusiastically.

Rhubarb, also called pie plant is another perennial I insist on keeping around. If you like Marie Calender's pies, I'd stay away from eating straight rhubarb pies because they tend towards the tarter side of life and no amount of sugar hides that. Strawberries are a favorite of the wimps who can't take a straight rhubarb pie, like the folks who drink cream in their coffee. I say, if you can't take coffee black, maybe you were born to just drink milk.

Rhubarb was prized as the earliest food folks could get out of the garden after a long cold winter. In the spring that followed that cold winter, the first shoots out of the ground in a garden would be the bright red rhubarb shoots. Called 'pie plant' by many in the mid-west and south, pie and ice cream sauce are about the only uses for rhubarb and for many of those people, rhubarb pie is as much a tradition of spring as pumpkin pie is at Thanksgiving. I love mine with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream or just plain and I’ll two slices, thank you very much.

Most of the rhubarb in Southern California doesn't ever get really red which I think is due to the lack of truly cold weather, but even if the pie looks a little like 'celery pie' it has the same kick as rhubarb. Rhubarb, by the way, is one of the few plants from which we eat only the leaf stem, the petiole, – rhubarb leaves are poisonous.

Asparagus and artichokes are some of the most frequently planted annual herbs in the gardens of California. Artichokes we treat a lot like annuals in our gardens. They, unlike other perennials are easy to move whenever the moma plant dies back, her children, often called pups, can be moved easily from the original site and transplanted elsewhere.

Asparagus is unlike most of the plants we've covered and we'll have to look at it on its own merit. Purchase roots of asparagus in the late fall, early winter. The site must be chosen with some forethought because once placed, asparagus is difficult to relocate. From roots to your first picking will be two years and that picking should be light. Asparagus growers often like to dump aged manure on their asparagus bed every fall. I'm not sure that is necessary, but then I am only in my second year of my second bed so I have harvested very little asparagus... Your long-term asparagus project can come to naught if it gets infested with perennial weeds. Asparagus has very shallow roots which are easily damaged – perennial weeds can quickly ruin an asparagus patch - which is whence went my first patch. Asparagus is NO match for false garlic.

Artichokes are easily grown, the plant that produces chokes this year will die in summer giving rise to baby plants (called pups) which can be left on the plant or cut away and transplanted elsewhere. If you can leave the plants alone for three years, you will soon be giving artichokes away to your neighbors or making artichoke heart stew! Allowing some the last chokes to flower is a long lived tradition I adhere to because it elicits so many cries of joy.

Strawberries are much prized and if done correctly can provide a gardener with years of sweet deliciousness in season. They must be well-mulched, and attention to have mulch that doesn't also serve as a haven for snails and slugs must be given. Slugs and snails will decimate your strawberries almost as fast as children – although, children will eat the whole berry while a slug or snail will at least only take part of the berry allowing you to trim off the slug part and have the rest for yourself. Plan your strawberry patch with some forethought because it will be there for a long time, if you're lucky.

Shrubs Etc

Blueberries, Vaccinium sp. There are several blueberry varieties that will produce nice berries in Southern California. They take about three years to get up to snuff – but they are easy enough, and once, established make for some great eating! Emerald, Jewell, Misty and Sunshine Blue are varieties suggested – I have only experience with Misty and I love it!

California Native plant specialists will point to Ribes aureum as being a native edible species. They are correct in the most strict sense of the word 'edible.' I would not want to be forced to a diet in which the starring role was played by the Golden Currant. About 30 of them comprise a decent mouthful and it is time consuming at the least to collect several mouthfuls off one plant. It is a good berry, but not amazing. It is however, the only Ribes species that will grow here in southern California – all those black current preserves are there just to tempt you. Remember, we can grow so much more than they can, we ought not covet that little they can grow without us.

Brambles - all the cane berries are called 'brambles.' They are almost all weedy and difficult to control, spreading by underground runners (that have thorns too!) but if you have the space and cannot do without them, they are easy to grow. Raspberries, Blackberries. There is a thornless white raspberry that is worth looking into if this sort of thing cranks your tractor.

Vines – grapes, kiwis, passion fruit are some of the more popular vines we grow for food. Especially if you have some fence (sturdy fence) that you can grow them on.


Apples, peaches, apricots, plums, nectarines, figs, pomegranates and persimmons all grow here as easy as it gets. The choice of variety is most important because many of these fruits need a set amount of chill time in order to produce fruit. Neither true cherries or pears do well in our coastal clime, although some of you further inland might find a pear or two that you can grow – cherries require the most chilling of all stone fruits.

First off, let's tackle the concept of 'chill hours.' Every fruit that need some cold in order to set fruit is said to need 'chill hours.' This measurement of how much cold a given variety needs is not well-understood and the amount of hours that given variety needs fluctuates, sometimes wildly, which let one know that this is not a hard science in the same way as gravity.

The easiest method is called The 45-degree-Fahrenheit-and-under model. Simply calculate a given variety's available chill hours by estimating how many hours it will spend in temperatures of 45 º F and under. One hour of time is equal to one chill hour. During the winter, you can add up the chill hourscumulatively, taking away one hour for every hour the temperature rises above 60º F. If you see an apple listed at 500 chill hours (like Fuji), and you live on the coast, cross if off your list.

Apples we can grow include, Anna, Ein Schiemer (both Israeli varieties that were bred for their conditions that are very similar to ours) and my favorite, Dorsett Golden, named 'golden' for medals and not for the color of the skin. All of these apples get apple scab which, though not fatal is still a problem. If you are inland and have more chill hours, Fuji could be one of your choices.

Apricots include Sunkist, which I think is the best apricot I've ever, ever tasted although Blenheim gets all the press. I don't know why.

Nectarines – our list includes: Snow Queen and Arctic Star.

Our peach selection is likewise slender, and while there are others, have to admit, Strawberry Free and Red Baron top my list.

Figs, mulberries, pomegranates and persimmons are not too picky about chill hours and we can grow almost all of them. These are all delicious fruits and can be quite productive blessing one with loads of fruit that can be somewhat overwhelming – we should all have this problem!

I wish I could get a pawpaw to grow here. This is a fruit with a texture like a custard and is endemic to the area around southern Ohio.


A number of productive almond varieties will produce lovely crops in Los Angeles. I was given two varieties a couple of years ago, one was tagged with the name 'Nonpariel' which means, non-parallel. The other, not being tagged, was promptly named 'Pariel.' I still don't know it's name! Most almonds require two trees (of different parentage) to cross-pollinate in order to crop decently.

We are not cold enough for filberts,pistachios or walnuts but we can grow pecans – I don't have any experience with any pecans as I only eat pecans a couple of times a year.

I would encourage anyone with any amount of land to grow a native oak tree. The acorns are edible and there is evidence that the presence of acorns played a significant role in humans becoming agricultural. The early agricultural communities could settle in one place and experiment in agriculture because they could pick all the food they needed from the local oak trees. Our California oak trees produce edible acorns that can be prepared for eating. Our own Valley Oak, Quercus lobata is one of the most edible of the species. While they might not be your first choice for food, the acorns can serve as a back up source and in the meantime, oaks provide habitat and food for a good number of Native Californian species.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Sustainable Water Strategies Resource List

Mulch Suppliers that deliver:
Soil and Sod, Pacoima, 818-686-6445
Foothill Soils, Sylmar, 661-254-0867
Rainwater catchment supplies:

Tanks choose tanks that ship from CA. Also sells first flush systems. Etanks is another option.

Native plants that can be used as lawn:
Carex praegracilis: Meadow Sedge, more runner, turf-forming
Festuca rubra: Red Fescue, the lumpy lawn, requires much more water than above, but easily available in conventional nurseries.
Bouteloua gracilis: Blue gramma grass is also very lumpy, looks like a bluer Bermuda, great for desert/hi-elevation applications.

Books and other resources:
Shawna Dark et al,  Historical Wetlands of the San Gabriel River   I believe this is the newest link to the above research showing how dewatered the landscape of the San Gabriel River watershed has become in the last 100 years.

Art Ludwig
You can buy books, plumbing supplies, etc. from this website. Reading the articles on the website is an education in water storage and reuse. The only source of salt-free dish and laundry cleanser that I am aware of, "Oasis Biocompatible."

Ludwig, Builder's Grey Water Guide, Oasis Design

Another excellent resource for water use.
Lancaster, "Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands" Vol 1 & 2, Rainsource Press
Vol. 1 is overview, Vol. 2 is earthworks

Mollison, Mia Slay, "Permaculture: A Designers' Manual," Tagari Publications

Hemenway, "Gaia’s Garden," Chelsea Green, especially good for theory of constructed wetlands


Month By Month: The Cheat Sheet

These generalizations are for The Learning Garden, located in Sunset Zone 24, less than 3 miles from the Pacific Ocean in an alluvial plain that is just above sea level. Cold air from the surrounding hills drains into our area and we are reliably cooler than much of the surrounding areas. If you are growing inland from us, your temperatures fluctuate more than ours. As one gardens further from the ocean, the temperatures are less moderate and the effects of heat and cold are more pronounced. While we can grow some cool season crops year round (kale and chard come to mind first), this becomes more difficult without the ocean's pronounced influence.

There are two different ways to plant seeds (and I always suggest growing from seed): 1. In the ground – right where the plant will grow, you must do this for root crops, but many plants can be planted in the ground directly or, 2. In a container in a sheltered location – like in the house or on a porch. This is usually done for plants that start out very small and benefit from more attention and care. It is also almost always the way to start tomatoes and Cruciferae that benefit from being place deeper in the soil when transplanted.

Plant in the ground: lettuce, carrots, beets, parsnips, potatoes, celeriac, radishes, spinach,
Plant in containers: lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, kale, chard, (these last two can be started now, but they would have been better started earlier – their production will be reduced by the coming warmer weather), peas, fava beans, lentils, garbanzo beans
Plant in the ground: lettuce (and other salad greens), carrots, beets parsnips, radishes, spinach, purple beans,
Plant in containers: early tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, summer squash

Plant in the ground: purple beans, lettuce, radishes, purple beans, beets, radishes, spinach, set out plants of basil, early tomatoes, later in the month, sow early sweet corn,
Plant in containers: tomatoes, basil, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, melons, all squash,

Plant in the ground: beans of all colors, lettuce, radishes, beets, spinach, set out plants of tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, basil, you can start planting all corn now
Plant in containers: tomatoes, basil, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, melons & squash, okra,

Plant in the ground: all basil, eggplant, all melons and all squash (including cucumbers, set out plants of same and all tomatoes, eggplants and peppers) green and yellow beans and all the dried beans; corn too, if you have room
Plant in containers: As in April, but it's getting late – peppers, eggplants and basil are still OK to start, but it's getting late, did I say it was getting late?

Plant in the ground: all the above, but it's getting late... you can still get a crop, but it will be cut shorter by any early cool weather; the last of the corn can go in early in the month
Plant in containers: after starting pumpkin seeds, take a nap

Plant in the ground only out of necessity – extreme necessity
Plant in containers: continue napping

Plant in the ground: nothing if you can avoid it
Plant in containers: towards the end of the month, in a shaded location, the first of the winter veggies can be started, cabbage, broccoli, kale, chard, fava beans, leeks, shallots, onions...

Plant in the ground: nothing, until late in the month, start sowing turnips, parsnips, radishes, beets and carrots – keep seeds moist! Peas, lentils and garbanzo beans can be sown...
Plant in containers: Cabbage, broccoli, kale, chard, favas, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts,

Plant in the ground: by now you can begin to set out some of your cabbage, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, chard and so on. Continue with seeds as above... you can also direct sow favas if you want. Potatoes can usually be found about now as well as sets or seed bubls of onions, garlic and shallots and they all should be planted from now until late November.
Plant in containers: More Cruciferae and favas, celery and celeriac,

Plant in the ground: More of September's plants can be sown – you still have time for all of them except onions, this will be the last month to plant peas, lentils, garbanzos, shallots, garlic and fava beans. Their growing season is too long to get the harvest you would want. Although the legumes can be planted if you are willing to take a lesser harvest or are using them as a cover (green manure) crop.
Plant in containers: I'm still sowing cabbages, broccoli and cauliflower, but Brussels sprouts are a longer season item so they're not a part of my efforts until next season's planting begins.

Plant in the ground: Too little light and too many parties make it difficult to find garden time – but if you have some things left over from November, try to get that done.
Plant in containers: Pretty much the same story, if you have time, do more of all that's listed from November.

There are two big shifts in Southern Californian gardening: At the end of September, beginning of October it's all about the winter crops. At the end of February, beginning of March, the focus all shifts to summer and the heat lovers. Seeds get started slightly before then (if you have the right conditions, up to six weeks). 


Twelve Principles to a Better Garden (and Being A Better Gardener!)

“Patience may well be a virtue for the general populace, but for a gardener, it is essential.” David King

I have been a successful organic gardener in Southern California for the last twenty five years with a good deal of dirt under my nails on the mid-West plains before that. I have evolved a style of gardening that works well in Southern California and is 100% wholly organic and sustainable, as “sustainable” as a person can be in a land where water is shipped in from thousands of miles away. There are no books written for our climate that are truly organic or sustainable.

The principles that I use to guide my gardening are quite simple.

  1. Very little fertilizer. In fact, the fewer things you buy for your garden, the better off you will usually be. It is the task of advertising, with which we are constantly bombarded, to create the desire for a thing. I want to tell you that a few packets of seed, a couple of really well made tools and patience are all you need to grow good, nutritious, uncontaminated food. The scientific community, as far back as 1936 was aware that fertilizers, organic and chemical, were harmful to soil biota, the organisms living in the soil that make soil truly fertile. This understanding was deliberately not popularized because you won't buy something if you've already got it. No, you don't need fertilizer – you do need compost and lots of it, but you don't need fertilizer.
  2. No pesticides. In many ways, chemical pesticides are better for the world than organic ones because the chemical pesticides at least target the species that we wish to deal with while most organic pesticides kill everything they come in contact with while they are active. The key to a healthy, pest free garden is not through war, but through cooperation with nature. The entire key is to be attracting more insects to your garden – not less.
  3. Continuous cropping. Our gardens are small and the idea of crop rotation can be a little ludicrous. We need to have as much diversity in our gardens as we possibly can have – this means interplanting species and using legumes and other plants to keep the soil fertile for this constant cropping.
  4. Composting. Compost everything that can be composted. Everything ends up somewhere, if it will break down, compost it. If you lack space, vermicompost, but keep this valuable 'waste' out of the landfill!
  5. Mulch. Three inches in planting season, twice a year. This is the key to the soil's fertility and vitality. I use unfinished compost on top of my soil, in Fall and in Spring. Three inches!
  6. Insure the survival of pollinators. In this world of uncertainty, the roll played by pollinators has become more and more critical – plant your garden to provide for their well-being. And provide a source of water.
  7. Diversity in your garden. No matter how small your garden, you have room to plant a variety of species and should take advantage of that. Interplant everything to the degree you can (corn and garlic should have their own space, but for different reasons).
  8. Grow your own plants from seeds. Don't buy transplants from the nursery. Buy seeds and plant them yourself – there are good reasons to do this and the fact that it saves you money is just one.
  9. Saving seed to plant next year. And that means allowing some of your harvest to go to 'waste' in that some of your cabbages will flower, some of your lettuce will bolt and some of your cucumbers will stay on the vine well past the edible stage. These are investments in your future. This also means you will need to leave behind hybrid plants.
  10. Preserve and share your harvest - help someone else grow . Nature is lusciously abundant, emulate Her! Learn how to dry, pickle, can and freeze the food that is overwhelming you – if you can't do that, share it with your neighbor and make new friends. Teach a child the importance of gardening and how food really tastes.
  11. Don't stop learning. Go buy my book. Better yet, write your own book: keep your own garden journal and learn from your mistakes. Join a club, find a website or two, subscribe to a magazine. Garden in a community garden.

  12. Garden for yourself. Plant the foods you will eat or the foods you eat that are expensive or unobtainable in the market. Do not plant what the books tell you to plant if you don't like it, except you really should have some kind of legume – for you and for the soil. Above all, put a chair in your garden so you can sit with a cup of tea, coffee, a beer or a jug of water (is that really water?), and just hang out in your garden. You can use it to rest when you over-do it, or you can make it a place where you read a book. I love to have a bottle of sparkling water or a cup of coffee (depending on the time of day and the season), with my radio tuned to the Dodger station and my notebook in hand. Some of the finest moments of my life have been spent this way – certainly, some of the most peaceful! Make your garden a part of your life, just like your living room is! Ditch the TV, watch insects fight for their lives in your garden, butterflies, bees, hummingbirds and other critters doing their daily chores in your garden. It is peaceful and oh so refreshing.
And take care of yourself while you garden. Drink plenty of water (that's the best), protect your skin from the sun with long sleeved shirts and a hat. Stop to catch your breath and look around, your garden will soon team with life so get to know it and don't fear it.

As a society, we have left so much of this behind. Don't get so caught up in 'working' on your garden, that you miss the peace and wonderment of watching Nature do her thing right in front of you. Allow the garden to be so much more than just a place to 'make food.' A garden can heal. Let it happen for you!

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.