Category Archives: Instructional Activities

Grow LA Victory Garden Classes 2012


Proud to be teaching the Grow LA Victory Garden (GLAVG) classes again this spring. Please see registration details below and please forward to those who may enjoy.

The Grow LA Victory Garden Initiative helps new gardeners start their own gardens quickly and easily in a container, in the backyard or at a community garden. Participants are able to turn their interest in gardening into successful, productive gardens that will generate positive changes in their homes by helping to lower grocery bills and enhance opportunities to eat healthy food.

The GLAVG classes are organized and led by UC California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners. Those who complete the 4-week training will become UC-Certified Victory Gardeners.

Place:
Hami Garden, Hamilton High School
2955 South Robertson Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90034
Entrance on S. Canfield Ave (Between Cattaraugus and Kramerwood Pl)

The 4-week session is every Sunday for 3 hours.
Dates: April 29, May 6 May 13, May 20
Time: 1:00PM – 4:00PM

List of topics include the following:
Week 1: Planning, tools, containers, raised beds, seed starting, plant selection (what to grow and when to grow it)

Week 2: Soil preparation, soil properties, organic fertilizers, transplanting, irrigation, and mulching

Week 3: Composting, pest management (weeds, diseases, insects), beneficial insects, organic pesticides.

Week 4: Harvesting, pollination, seed saving, fruit trees, recipes, review, graduation

The cost is $20 per class or $75 for the entire session. Only those taking all 4 sessions will be eligible for certificates. Part of the proceeds will go to supporting the Hami Garden.

Payment is available through Paypal.com or by check. My paypal account email address is gp305@yahoo.com. You will be confirmed registration once payment is received. Classes are always a sell-out, please register early.

Contact:
Master Gardener George Pessin
Tel: 310-779-8816
Email: gp305@yahoo.com

Mailing Address:
834 Huntley Dr #4
Los Angeles, CA 90069

Edible Petioles

celery

Pop quiz: When we’re eating celery what part of the plant are we consuming?

A celery stalk, the part of the celery plant we eat, is a special part of the leaf structure called a petiole. A petiole is a small stalk that attaches the leaf blade of a plant to the stem.

Can you name any other edible petioles?

rhubarb

If you said rhubarb, you are correct.

What about stems?  What are the tastiest stems on the planet?

Arguably asparagus.

For more info see Edible Leafs: Spinach, Celery, and Artichokes

 

A Clothing Garden – Growing Cotton and Flax

raw cotton and cotton seeds

Raw Cotton and Cotton Seeds

We make a big deal about where our food originates from, but what about our clothing? Sure much of it is man-made chemistry, but natural plant fibers also contribute greatly to our daily wardrobes. Think of t-shirts, sweaters, and skirts made of cotton and shirts, pants and jackets made from linen. All originated as plants.

Cotton is a soft, fluffy, natural fiber that grows into a boll, or protective capsule around the seeds of the cotton plant. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. The botanical purpose of cotton fiber is to aid in seed dispersal.

No one knows exactly how old cotton is but archeologists have found cotton bolls and pieces of cloth in Mexican caves that date back 7,000 years. In Pakistan, cotton was being grown, spun, and woven into cloth as early as 3,000 B.C.

Linen is considered to be one of the earliest products known to civilization. It is made from the inner stalk of the flax plant and one of the first vegetable fabrics to be woven. It is valued for its exceptional coolness and freshness in hot weather.

There is evidence of cloth being made from linen in Mesopotamia and in Turkey as far back as 7000 to 8000 BC.  The flax plant that it comes from is believed to have first been domesticated in the area known as the Fertile Crescent. Mummies in Egypt were routinely wrapped in linen.

For info on how to grow cotton see Instructions for Planting Cotton Seeds from CottonsJourney.com.

For more information about Cultivating Flax see fact sheet from Department of Horticulture, Purdue University.

Clothing Garden Curriculum Suggestions:

1) Geography
Flax plants are believed to have originated in the area known as the Fertile Crescent aka “The Cradle of Civilization” Can you locate this area on a map? Why do you think linen clothing was popular in this region?

2) Math
It takes a patch of land of about 20 feet square to grow enough cotton for one common blouse. How many square feet would you need for 12 dozen blouses?

3) History
Cotton is woven into our American History because of Slavery and the Civil War. How did cotton figure into both of these events?

4) Art
Design an outfit for a scarecrow using only cotton and linen.

Integrated Pest Management in the School Garden

aphids on tomato plant

aphids on tomato plant

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is the term we use to describe the methods involved in controlling animals and insects in the garden.  Before listing them it is important to point out the following:

1) Not all insects in the garden are harmful. Familiarize yourself with who the good bugs aka beneficials are and those that do the most harm.

Good Bugs – See Meet the Beneficials, a pdf poster from IPM Online, University of California Davis that illustrates the various natural predators and parasites that feed on common garden pests.

Bad Bugs – See Plant Pest Identification Chart from Dept of Entomology, Texas A&M University .

2) Frequent monitoring of your plants is essential. Don’t let a little problem become a big problem. The earlier a problem is addressed the more quickly and easily it can be solved. Careful inspection of your plants should be done on a regular basis. If you’re fortunate enough to own a greenhouse careful monitoring of your pants indoors is recommend as well. (If you’re in the UK, Argos has a great range of greenhouses.)

3) Some level of damage can be tolerated. A few wormholes on your leaves is not going to destroy your plant. However if unchecked, and they start feeding on the grow tip the plant will not mature.

These are five methods of IPM:

1) Plant Selection
A healthy plant is better able to withstand its environment than one that is stressed by improper fertilization, irrigation, or being planted out of season. Remember to plant cool-weather crops in the fall (in California) and warm weather crops in the spring.

Plant selection also includes the planting of specialized crops. Some plant varieties are more susceptible to pests than others. Choosing the right variety may be all that is necessary to ensure a healthy plant. For example tomatoes labeled with a VFN designation are better able to resist the diseases caused by Verticillium, Fusarium viruses and Nematodes (microscopic worms that feed on plant roots). This information will be readily available in most seed catalogs.

2) Physical Barriers
A good example of physical barrier is a fence. If deer or rabbits are a problem in your garden the area will need to be fenced. Bury the fence about one foot deep to keep burrowing animals out. If gophers are a problem you will need to place chicken wire below your raised bed. Floating row covers and bird netting are other examples of physical barriers.

3) Traps
Insect traps use pheromones, visual lures or food to attract pests and capture them. Pheromones are the substances female insects use to sexually attract males to them. Visual lures use colors and shapes to attract pests.  A good example of a trap is the yellow sticky card that keeps whiteflies off your tomatoes. Aphids and white flies as well as other small flying insects are attracted to the yellow color and are then entrapped in the glue. They are not effective in a very large area but for a small school garden they are effective.

Another example of a trap is to lay a wooden board down in your pathway raised a few inches on one end to attract snails. They will try to hide there during the day. Simply turn the board over and remove the snails.

4) Biological Controls
Biological Controls rely on the use of living organisms called natural enemies or beneficials to eat or kill the pests. Two well-known beneficials are ladybugs and green lacewings.

Another biological control is BT (Bacillus thuringiensis), a microorganism that occurs naturally. It is very effective with worms and caterpillars that congregate on the underside of green leaves such as beets and chard as well as on the leaves of the entire Brassica family. BT is diluted with water and sprayed onto the underside of leaves.

5) Pesticides
Pesticides are used as a last resort. If you must use a pesticide, choose the least toxic yet most effective product that targets the pest but does not also kill natural enemies or is harmful to pets and other animals. Insecticidal soaps usually fit this bill. To learn more about pesticides see National Pesticide Information Center.

For more detailed information on IPM, see Pests Listed According to Vegetable.

Seed Starting for the Spring

Sunflower Seeds awaiting harvest

Sunflower Seeds

New 2012 seed catalogs have started to show up in the mail. Still makes me feel like a kid to peruse them while dreaming about what gourmet treats we’ll be cooking up with all that we harvest.

Now that the winter break is over it is time to think about what we’ll be planting in the spring and then to start those seedlings indoors.

Warm-season crops include those from the Cucurbiticeae Family (cucumbers, chayote, melons, pumpkin, squash, watermelons) and Solanaceae Family (eggplants, tomatoes, peppers).

Vegetables with larger seeds like beans and corn that we also plant in the spring are better off sowed directly in the soil after the last frost.

For an introductory handout see Starting from Seed.

For more extensive information See Plant Propagation from Seed from the Virginia Cooperative Extension.

Three seed companies I recommend:

Botanical Interests – Large selection of organic varieties.

Pinetree Garden Seeds – Smaller packets, smaller prices.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds – Large selection of heirloom varieties.

Master Gardener Volunteer Training Program 2012

Please read thoroughly. Applications are now available online only through Yvonne Savio. You must be on one of her email lists to receive application link.

MASTER GARDENER VOLUNTEER TRAINING PROGRAM

13 Saturdays, March 3 – May 26, 2012, 9am-4pm

January 6: Last Day to Get Onto Elist to Receive Application Link
January 15: Last Day to Submit Completed Online Application

WHO CAN APPLY
• Any resident of Los Angeles County with an email address and computer access. Most communication will be by email and websites.
• Anyone who wants to help teach low-income and limited-resource people how to grow more nutritious vegetables and fruits.
• We especially invite residents of inner-city neighborhoods and bilingual gardeners.

HOW TO APPLY
• You must be on either or both of our resource elists – 1) Community Gardening and Food Security, 2) School Gardening.
• If you’re not on either elist, email ydsavio@ucdavis.edu by January 6, 2012 and indicate which elist you want to be on (you can be on both).
• If you’re already on either or both elists, email ydsavio@ucdavis.edu by January 6, 2012 to receive the online application link.
• Complete and submit the online application by January 15, 2012. No application will be considered before then.

WHAT WE’LL DO
• Accept 50 applicants. Main criteria for acceptance: 1) prior community service, 2) know gardening basics, 3) passion for helping low-income
gardeners, 4) given presentations, 5) work well with people of diverse backgrounds, and 6) initiative in starting and carrying through projects.
• On February 1, 2012, we will email you whether or not you have been accepted into the program. Don’t contact us earlier.
• If you have been accepted, we will email you a Live Scan form and list of Live Scan locations in L.A. County for required fingerprinting and criminal background check by the U.S. Department of Justice. This must be done for us specifically, only at these locations, regardless if you’ve done it for another agency. Note differences in prices, hours, and whether an appointment is required.
• If you have been accepted, we will email you instructions on joining our MGs-only Yahoogroup. You can use either your existing email address or your new Yahoo email address to receive all of our MG emails and materials. You will receive LOTS of emails!
• On February 15, 2012, we will post onto the MG-only Yahoogroup your first assignments due on March 3, the first day of class.
• Teach you how to garden successfully. Topics and garden activities will cover basic plant science, propagation, fertilization, irrigation, soil, compost,
vegetable and herb and fruit gardening, flowering plants and trees, Integrated Pest Management (diseases, weeds, insects, small animals), tools, how to start community and school gardens, and outreach techniques.
• Provide you with Volunteer and Continuing Education opportunities all over Los Angeles County.

WHAT YOU’LL DO IF ACCEPTED INTO THE MASTER GARDENER VOLUNTEER TRAINING PROGRAM
• By February 14, 2012, mail the Live Scan form completed by the Live Scan operator to: Valerie Borel, U.C. Cooperative Extension, 4800 E. Cesar E. Chavez Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90022.
• By February 14, 2012, pay course fee online with credit card, or mail check for $200 made payable to “UC REGENTS” to: Valerie Borel at above address. Low-income residents pay only what they can afford—see application for details.
• By February 14, 2012, join our MGs-only Yahoogroup and make sure you’re receiving postings.
• By March 2, 2012, become familiar with our Common Ground public website and our MGs-only Yahoogroup website.
• Attend 13 classes on Saturdays, March 3 through May 26, 2012, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, at our office. Some meetings will be at other garden sites;
we encourage carpooling with classmates. After the first class on March 3, only one class may be missed – and only with prior notice.
• Give gardening workshops at community gardens, school gardens, seniors’ gardens, housing development & other low-income gardens.
• Answer gardening questions at gardens and fairs, on the phone at our office, or by email from your computer.
• Help with program activities and workshops at the UCCE office in East Los Angeles.
• Post all your Volunteer and Continuing Education hours on our online Statewide MG Volunteer Management System (we provide instructions).
• Starting in June, attend monthly MG Continuing Education meetings on the second Saturday of every month at different garden locations.

WHAT YOU’LL GET
• University of California California Master Gardener Handbook; and discounts on other UC publications.
• Certificate of Completion of Class Instruction—after completing the 13-week training program and passing the take-home, open-book examination.
• Monthly Continuing Education meetings with speakers and activities on in-depth gardening topics.
• Frequent emails of Volunteer and Continuing Education opportunities and other program information.
• Annual recertification as an active MG after you post online at least 50 Volunteer hours AND 15 Continuing Education hours by May 31, 2013. (Future years’ annual requirements are 25 Volunteer and 15 Continuing Education hours.)
• Joy and satisfaction that you’re helping other gardeners grow more nutritious vegetables and fruits, you’re making new friends, and we’re all working together to beautify our neighborhoods and “Green LA”!

For More Information – Email Valerie Borel at vtborel@ucdavis.edu by January 12, 2012

Meet the Beneficials: Natural Enemies of Garden Pests

Ladybug

The University of California Integrated Pest Management Program has produced a very informative poster for identifying good bugs that prey on bad bugs. We call these call good bugs, beneficial insects.

Meet the Beneficials: Natural Enemies of Garden Pests illustrates the various natural predators and parasites that feed on common garden pests.

One example is the lady beetle shown above. They are known to feed on aphids and whiteflies.

So before reaching for harmful pesticides consider biological controls such as  beneficial insects to do the job instead.