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

Asphalt to Ecosystems: Design Ideas for Schoolyard Transformation

New Village Press has published Sharon Gamson Danks’ Asphalt to Ecosystems, an illuminating guidebook for designing and building creative, ecologically diverse schoolyards and integrating nature into learning and play activities across K-12 curricula. With a wealth of practical advice and over 500 color photographs, Sharon Danks offers a fully illustrated, easy-to-understand guide for transforming the traditional school ground’s slab of asphalt into edible gardens, wildlife habitats, and other sustainable uses.

Using real-life examples from over 150 schools in 11 countries, Danks takes readers on a tour of successful green schoolyards emerging from vastly different climates and sensibilities: a permaculture project with fruit trees, vegetables, chickens, an apiary, and outdoor cooking facilities; wilderness habitats with prairie grasses and ponds, or forest and desert ecosystems; schoolyard watershed models, rainwater catchment systems and waste-water treatment wetlands; renewable energy systems; and waste-as-a-resource projects that give new life to old materials in beautiful ways.

Along the way, Danks includes K-12 curriculum ideas offering creative connections to a wide range of disciplines from the sciences to the humanities, evincing the many benefits and applications of designing and building green schoolyards: experiential learning opportunities that deepen students’ understanding of abstract concepts; play-based solutions to the problem of childhood obesity; and opportunities for social and emotional development through the cooperative, problem-solving activities involved in both the participatory design process and the maintenance of the green space.

The book’s abundant illustrations and stories show readers  how ecological schoolyards can improve students’ classroom performance, increase selfesteem, better lifestyle practices, and instill in young students a much-needed sense of environmental stewardship.

With this handbook to guide the planning, design, and implementation process, educators, parents, students, designers, and environmental activists will see the potential for redesigning under-utilized schoolyard spaces to cultivate richer learning and play experiences.

About the Author
Sharon Gamson Danks is an environmental planner and the founding partner of Bay Tree Design, a Berkeley-based landscape architecture and planning firm. A frontrunner in the green schoolyards movement, Danks has visited and documented more than 200 green schoolyards and parks in North America, Scandinavia, Great Britain, Europe, and Japan, and has facilitated the master-planning for dozens of ecological schoolyards. Sharon is currently working with the San Francisco Unified School District on a groundbreaking green schoolyard program, and serves on the national board for the
Community Built Association, as well as the advisory board of the San Francisco Green Schoolyard Alliance. She is the lead-author of the Green Schoolyard Resource Directory for the San Francisco Bay Area; a contributor to Landscape Architecture Magazine, Orion, and Green Teacher; and co-designer of the Sustainable Schoolyard exhibit displayed at the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C. in 2008.

About New Village Press

New Village Press is a public-benefit publisher specializing in works about grassroots community building, urban ecology, and community cultural development. The press publishes progressive non-fiction that offers useful solutions to critical social, environmental and economic challenges. It is a division of the national non-profit organization, Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility.

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.

Twitter + School Gardens = #SchoolGardenChat

Twitter may not be as popular as Facebook, but for school gardens Twitter is an indispensable tool. With over 175 million users generating over 65 million tweets a day one cannot ignore the networking benefits that Twitter offers.

For the uninitiated, Twitter is a social networking and microblogging service enabling users to send and receive messages called tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters that are displayed on the user’s profile page.

Recently, real-time chat among twitter users has become a popular way for followers of a particular topic to meet, exchange ideas, and make new friends.

On Thursday Feb 10th, at 6:00PM PST
and every Thursday thereafter
School Garden Weekly (@SGWeekly) and
School Garden Guru Mud Baron (@Cocoxochitl)
will be hosting a 1-hour school garden chat on Twitter.
We invite each and every one of you to attend.

To access you will need to do the following:

1) Become a member of Twitter if you are not already. Membership is free. For support help, see Twitter basics.

2) At the specified time, enter #schoolgardenchat (with hashtag #) in the search window and voila, the conversation will unfold before you. If you’re not familiar with the use of hashtags see Twitter Support: What are Hashtags?

3) When posting remember to include #schoolgardenchat at the end of your post to insure it appears in the chat queue, otherwise we won’t see it.

What to Bring to the Party:
1) Tell us about your school garden.
2) What are your top 3 challenges?
3) Share your resources and knowledge.

Join the conversation.  Join us for #schoolgardenchat

Harvesting Swiss Chard

When harvesting Swiss chard remove the outer leaves and leave the smaller inner leaves intact for future growth. Swiss chard is a biennial which means it goes to seed after two years. Take good care of your crop and you can experience a very lengthy and productive growing season.

LA County Master Gardener Training Program 2011

Common Ground Garden Program
University of California Cooperative Extension Los Angeles

MASTER GARDENER VOLUNTEER TRAINING PROGRAM

13 Saturdays, March 5 – May 28, 2011, 9am-4pm

January 10: 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 Yvonne Savio, ydsavio@ucdavis.edu by January 10, 2011 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 10, 2011 to receive the online application link.

Complete and submit the online application by January 15, 2011. No application will be considered before January 16, 2011.


WHAT WE’LL DO

Accept 50 applicants.

Main criteria for acceptance: 1) prior community service, 2) passion for helping low-income gardeners, 3) experience giving presentations, 4) working with people of diverse backgrounds, and 5) initiative in starting and carrying through projects.

On February 1, 2011, 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.

On February 16, 2011, we will post onto the MG-only Yahoogroup your first assignments due on March 5, 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 15, 2011, 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 15, 2011, 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 15, 2011, join our MGs-only Yahoogroup and make sure you’re receiving postings.

By March 4, 2011, become familiar with our Common Ground public website and our MGs-only Yahoogroup website.

Attend 13 classes on Saturdays, March 5 through May 28, 2011, 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 5, only one class may be missed – and that only with prior notice.

Give gardening workshops at community gardens, school gardens, senior 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
California Master Gardener Handbook, University of California publication; 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, 2012.  (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, vtborel@ucdavis.edu