Category Archives: Instructional Activities

How to Harvest Fennel Pollen

Fennel pollen is a gourmet spice collected from a flowering fennel plant. Use it on such dishes as sauteed string beans or grilled chicken.

Eat Your Thinnings

My summer lettuce patch is partially shaded by large squash leaves. This keeps the lettuce from bolting during the long, hot summer.

I originally broadcast my seeds rather than sowing in rows to maximize the amount of produce grown in such a small space.

Using this approach it is necessary to periodically thin out the plants to give them enough room to grow and allow for adequate sunlight and nutrients.

As you can see in the photo above I got a bagful of lettuce and one of basil by thinning out the lettuce patch. You could hardly tell that i made a dent.

Bottom-line: periodic thinning will keep you in lettuce (and basil) all summer.

Growing Corn

Corn is currently 7 ft tall and just began flowering last week. It is one of the best crops of corn we’ve had…ever. Secret to our success?

Picture of corn crop at Hamilton High School

In the fall we planted fava beans. Fava beans are known for fixating nitrogen from the air and turning it into a usable form in the soil. Following fava beans with corn allows the corn to take advantage of all that extra nitrogen in the soil.

We also fed the corn twice with additional fertilizer, once with worm tea and another time with fish emulsion.

How to Make a Keyhole Garden – African Style

Set in Lesotho, this video shows a group of schoolchildren making a keyhole garden. The charity Send a Cow showed them how to make it and the children can now make their own at home and have more food.

Grow LA Victory Garden Classes 2011

Once again I am delighted to be teaching the Grow LA Victory Garden Classes in 2011. Please see details below for registration.

The Grow LA Victory Garden Initiative helps new gardeners start their own gardens quickly and easily in a container, 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 lowering grocery bills and enhancing opportunities for a healthier lifestyle.

The Grow LA Victory Garden 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.

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: May 1, May 8, May 15, May 22
Time: 1:00PM – 4:00PM

List of topics include the following:
Week 1: Planning, tools, containers, building raised beds, seed starting, plant selection

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

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

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

The cost is $15 per class or $50 for the entire session. Only those taking all 4 sessions will be eligible for certificates. Please note, half of all proceeds go towards the Hamilton High School Garden Program.

Payment is available through Paypal or by check. My paypal account email address is or request invoice and I will forward one by email. You will be confirmed registration once payment is received.

LA County Master Gardener George Pessin
Tel: 310-779-8816

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

How to Grow Chayote

Chayote (pronounced: chah-YOH-teh) is in the Cucurbitaceae family, same as melons, cucumber, gourds, and squash. Its fruit can be eaten raw or cooked and the leaves and shoots are edible as well.

Here in Southern California it grows as a perennial. It has a vigorous vine that can grow to 30 ft making it perfect for chained link fences or some other form of trellis

To grow chayote in your garden the first thing you want to do is go to the market and purchase a few. Here in Los Angeles they can be found at many Hispanic markets (chayotes are native to Mexico). Leave them in a warm sunny place like a windowsill or countertop and wait for the seed to germinate, which can take approximately 4 weeks.

Once the stem appears, which will be from the larger fat end, plant it in a container (or in the ground) covering the entire fruit.

For more information see Chayote (Sechium edule) from

For Chayote recipes see this nice collection from

Giving Parsley a Haircut

Harvesting parsley on a regular basis will keep it from going to seed and ensure a steady supply. Being a great source for Vitamin A and Vitamin C be sure to include parsley in your favorite sauces and soups.