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.

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: 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 gp305@yahoo.com or request invoice and I will forward one by email. You will be confirmed registration once payment is received.

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

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 hort.purdue.edu

For Chayote recipes see this nice collection from cdkitchen.com

Historical Society’s Sixth Annual Garden Party & Tour to Benefit School Greening

Photo by Mary E. Nichols

LOS ANGELES – The Windsor Square Hancock Park Historical Society’s sixth annual Garden Party & Tour will take place April 17, 2011. The tour encompasses the neighborhoods north of Wilshire Boulevard to Melrose Avenue, between Highland and Van Ness Avenues. This is a unique opportunity to see some of the oldest and most elegantly landscaped private properties in Los Angeles. Of special note is the tour’s dinner and silent auction at Getty House, the official residence of the Mayor of Los Angeles.

Proceeds from this event are dedicated to continuing substantial greening work at LAUSD’s John Burroughs Middle School, and extending the beautification efforts along Wilshire Boulevard at McCadden Place.

The tour will be held in honor of Cindy Chvatal-Keane for her contributions to this historic neighborhood and the city of Los Angeles. Cindy is President of the Hancock Park Homeowners Association, est. 1948. She cofounded the Hancock Park Historic Preservation Advocacy Group and was a key player in the establishment of a Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ) to protect the character of Hancock Park. She is a member of the Executive Committee of the California Science Center and is an Executive Producer of the acclaimed television series CSI.

The highlight of this year’s tour are the historic Ronnie Allumbaugh Gardens at Getty House, created in 1928 by renowned garden designer A.E. Hanson. They include the sunken “Blue” Garden and the Rose Garden, which were restored in 2010 and are rarely available for viewing by the general public.

The Historical Society’s Garden Party raised more than $30,000 for greening at John Burroughs Middle School in 2010. Additional funds were raised from business and community groups, including the Hancock Park Homeowners Association est. 1948 and Walt Disney Pictures. As a result, the front of the school was completely transformed, with new irrigation, hardscape, benches and plantings. Funds from the 2011 tour will extend the work south along McCadden Place, and turn the corner onto Wilshire Boulevard along the south end of the campus.

The 2008 and 2009 tours raised more than $30,000 for the creation of outdoor garden classroom planters, numerous fountains and a 3D sensory wall mural at the Frances Blend School Special Education Center (LAUSD), serving visually impaired children with multiple handicaps. Additional funds and support were provided by the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council and Paramount Pictures.

In 2007, $13,000 raised from the tour was allocated toward the installation and planting of landscaped traffic islands on Wilton Place, a busy street in the neighborhood. This endowment enabled complete funding of the project by the City of Los Angeles, and our funds were returned. They were reallocated to a greening project at LAUSD’s Wilshire Crest School and a bronze plaque at Robert Burns Park.

The inaugural year of the tour was 2006, and the Historical Society raised $10,000, which was donated to the City of Los Angeles toward developing a green median on Larchmont Boulevard just north of Beverly Boulevard.

Getty House serves as the beginning and end of this wonderful afternoon. At check-in, attendees will obtain programs with a map indicating the addresses of all the private gardens, which are not revealed until the day of the tour. Getty House is also the site of an afternoon lecture, “Organic Container Gardening,” by Jo Anne Trigo of Two Dog Organic Nursery.

Attendees are advised to wear flat shoes, and to bring hats and sunglasses.

Following the tour, all attendees are invited to return to Getty House for a light supper, a spectacular silent auction and a presentation to this year’s honoree.

Tickets to the event are $55 each and can be purchased online at www.wshphs.org or by mail from:

WSHPHS Garden Tour
137 N. Larchmont Blvd., #135
Los Angeles, CA 90004
Tel: 213-243-8182