26 October, 2007

No Class Tomorrow Morning: Sorry!

Hopefully everyone got called by Culver City Adult School - I've pulled muscles in my back and so I've canceled class - we'll do a make-up by adding one week in December. Sorry about that; I hope it won't cause any problems for anyone.


19 October, 2007

Landscaping I: Design & Plan, Lecture Notes for 20 October, 2007

First step: Decide what you want in your garden, achieve agreement with spouse – consider other household members… (Casey made me add that...)

Tasks you love
Tasks you hate
How do you intend to use the garden?
Environmental sensibilities – water consumption, pesticide and fertilizer usage, habitat
Cut out pictures of gardens you like
Determine your light capabilities – what is the extent of sun in your garden
Colors you like/dislike

The ultimate in a Garden Design:
- has year round interest
- ties the garden and home together
- sets an intended mood
- provides a place for plants to thrive
- accentuates (or is a reflection of ) the owner’s lifestyle
- fulfills needs of the owner
- acts as an ecosystem after a fashion

Some moods/sense of purpose the Garden Design might invoke:
- mystery
- peace and calm
- relaxation
- healing
- de-stress environment
- playful
- seclusion
- connection to nature
- conservation
- recalling a sense of place
Woodland – ferns
Woodland edge – deciduous shrubs, climbing species roses and other climbers
Moorland – heathers or other dwarf evergreen shrubs
Prairie – grasses, tall perennials – esp. daisies
Meadow – grasses
Semi-desert – yuccas, gray-foliaged plants
Chaparral – native CA Plants
Oak scrub – other CA natives
Tropical – gaudy, ugly and pretentious large leaved evergreens

Garden Design – The Concept

Structural Survey

Two initial surveys must be taken prior to planting which we touched on last week, but is helpful to review constantly. The first is structural – you need to know the physical limitations of your space – load bearing, availability of water, access limitations and the materials that surround your garden. The structural survey must include all the physical boundaries to your garden.

If your garden is above ground, safety and cost will figure more prominently in your considerations.

Dimensional Survey

Then the dimensional survey is accomplished by measuring and then drawing your space to scale. To do this, it is best to have a 100’ tape measure and a 25’ (or so) metal tape measure for shorter or awkward measurements. A brick or other heavy object might be needed to hold the end down if you don’t have an assistant.

Also make note of any changes of level, especially in relationship to drainage, and make note of the overhanging features you have to consider.

Mark on your plan any water spigots and power outlets – these will be important in your final design.

This survey must look beyond the actual garden for ‘borrowed views’ from nearby trees or structures worth looking at. ‘Borrowed views,’ and views that fall under the ‘blight spot’ moniker need to be noted on your plan.

Design Components

Color – Consider the whole garden as one large pot… don’t be afraid to paint the walls, or concrete under foot Consider all materials in concert with total color –
What color are the walls surrounding? Can you change those?

Texture – Again consider the entire garden as a whole – what is the unifying texture overall – work to enhance the garden thematically – with an exception here and there for contrast

Scale and proportion – Stay within your space! Remember how large your plants will become eventually… better to underplant and allow plants to expand naturally than have to remove sick or ungainly plants that have suffered from too little sun…

Shape – Shapes within the small garden are all the more important. Pots and plants in the garden must help convey the mood. Clean lines are important, but avoid brashness.

Repetition – repeating patterns and symmetry are essential to creating the desired mood. Repeat the plants, the pots, color, or texture. Harmonize the whole of your plantings with this technique.
Grouping – Place plants and elements together for effect. Consider islands vs. long rows of pots/plants

Style – This is the overarching element of design. Try not to make the garden schizophrenic from the interior design of the house.

While walking through a door is a straightforward action of moving from the living room into the garden, the transition design needs to consider the first introduction of a person into the garden; there will be a break in continuity of course because you are leaving ‘inside’ to ‘outside’, but the garden needs to flow from one to the other as though they are parts of a whole. In other words, while we are limited into how we can accomplish this, short of knocking the ceiling out and planting trees in what used to be an indoor room, we, as garden designers, want to consider what is there and ADD to it vs. detract or negate it. Where a given style exists in structure or thematically on the interior of the house, try to access it with plants and features in your design. This can be accomplished simply by observing notable features of the building abutting the garden and asking a few pointed questions of your clients in the initial interview. All the elements that draw a garden together, should be considered towards drawing the garden and home together as well.

Garden Design – The Rules

1. Divide in thirds vs. halves
2. Perspective and the focal point
3. Why it doesn’t work in small gardens…

Breaking the rules

1. View the garden spatially as one pot – in other words
2. Think of the box!

What comprises the boundaries – the walls of your pot?
Can you change them?
Walls can be
covered in plants,
covered with lattice,
bamboo fences,
seagrass mats etc.

3. Tying the garden together
3.1. Color, of plant flowers or leaves, of walls, paving material, lattice work
3.2. Borrowed scenery
3.3. Climbing plants
3.4. Lighting – Most entertaining in our society is done at night, so creative lighting can be your salvation
4. Expand the garden by use off open space and mirrors
5. Water in the garden
6. A found object – whimsy
7. Practical considerations – i.e. watering


15 October, 2007

The Principles of Potager Design (& Various Lists)

1. Consider Technicalities


2. Maximize the kitchen-garden relationship

Near the kitchen is best

3. Consider the bird’s eye view

How will the garden be viewed?
Divide into units
Repeat patterns and colors over a theme as much as possible

4. Enclose the garden

Fancifully, or conventionally, but with practical applications
Creates a special place; a sanctuary
Use existing walls and complement with fencing and/or planting to separate.

5. Design the garden like a room, invoking texture, color and mood

A place to sit and view it
Use color and texture from adjoining walls
Keep in synch with the building’s styling

6. Create an edge with raised beds
Raise them with or without wood/bricks etc.

7. Design for counterpoint

Chaos vs. control
Color opposites

8. Go vertical
Structures add dimension to the garden
Grow plants that climb extending the harvestable square footage

9. Consider year round use
Schedule plantings to go in and come out as the seasons changed to allow for maximum year round use; design for four seasons in mind.

Plants You Can Use As Edging

Mint (p)
Oregano (p)
Sorrel (p)
Strawberries (p)
Thyme (p)

Plants for Color in the Winter

Purple broccoli
Swiss chard

Edibles That Are Shade Tolerant

Chinese cabbage
Cornsalad (M√Ęche)
Pak Choi

Plants for Height in Winter

Artichoke or Cardoon (p)
Blueberry (p)
Brussels sprouts
Climbing Peas
Fava beans
Ginger (p)
Walking stick kale

Plants for Color in Summer

Beans (some climb, some bush)

Plants for Height in Summer

Corn (sweet and popcorn)
Cucumbers (on trellis)
Beans (on trellis)
Melons (on trellis)
Tomatoes (in cages)

Edible Flowers


Fast Fillers

Green onions

Sowing Schedule in Zone 24

Crop Sow On

Basil February 15
Beets Y/R *
Broccoli September 15
Cabbage September 30
Cauliflower September 15
Collards Y/R*
Corn April 1
Cucumber March 1
Eggplant March 15
Kale Y/R*
Lettuce September 1
Melons March 15
Mustard September 1
Okra March 15
Onions September 1
Parsley September 15
Peas September 1
Peppers March 15
Pumpkins May 1
Spinach September 15
Squash (summer) March 1
Squash (winter) March 15
Swiss Chard Y/R
Tomatoes February 15

* except in mid-summer


Bibliography for Potager Design

("Potager" is the current 'in' phrase for vegetable garden. In using it, one is trying to suggest a 'beautiful vegetable garden.'

Designing The New Kitchen Garden, An American Potager Handbook,
Bartley, Jennifer © 2006, Timber Press, Portland, OR This is the book used to compile a good deal of my potager design lecture. It has to be adapted for our climate – all of her dates are good if you’re in OH, but I don’t think we’re in OH – at least not the last time I checked we hadn’t even made it to not being in Kansas. This is a good book, well written and filled with inspiration.

Designing and Maintaining your Edible Landscape Naturally
, Kourick, Robert © 1986, Metamorphic Press, Santa Rosa, CA Probably the bible for this kind of garden. I own a first printing and a quick check shows that Amazon has it new for $33.46 (Permanent Publications; March 30, 2005), so it’s still a winner, after all these years.

Herloom Vegetable Gardening,
Weaver, William Woys, ©1997, New York, NY Very few pictures, but the descriptions are sufficient to make you drool all over the book! Not specific to our area, but a lot of fun to read and daydream about all we COULD grow if we had forty acres or more.

How to Grow More Vegetables and Fruits: (And Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops) 7th Edition, Jeavons, John ©2006, Ten Speed Press, San Francisco, CA If there is only one book you ever purchase for growing vegetables, this is it! John Jeavons has done more for the growing of vegetables in a small space than any one other single person on this planet. This book is good for the charts alone.

Sunset Western Garden Guide 8th Edition
, Brenzel, Kathleen Norris, Editor, ©2007, Sunset Publishing This is the number one go-to book for horticulture in Southern California; no other book is as authoritative as this one for our area. We cannot take advice from most gardening books and apply it to what we do in Los Angeles because our climate and soils are nothing like the rest of the world – especially the east coast and England where most books about gardening originate. However, with this book, you can use these other books, (like the ones above) you can then filter their information through ‘Sunset.’

The Kitchen Garden, Thompson, Sylvia ©1995, Bantam Books New York, NY Sylvia Thompson has been a columnist for the Los Angeles Times and lives in our area so she knows how to grow here in Los Angeles. This is your text book, remember?

08 October, 2007

Notes from the Second Week of Edible Gardening




Blueberries (Southern Highbush, low chill) – to about 4 feet, prefer acidic soils and lot’s of water. Other than that, easy to grow
Ribes sp…

Vines/ Brambles:

Berries/Rasp and black, boysenberry, currants, Gooseberry,
Passion fruit



Growing Plants From Seed

Tools To Grow Plants From Seed

Potting soil
Pots of different sizes
Something for gentle watering
Small trowel – or a large spoon
A safe, warm spot
ID stakes
Something to cut with (scissors/pruners)

Seeds Need To Grow:

Air (preferably with some circulation)
And some would say protection from predation.

Seeds Do NOT Need:

Expensive equipment

Field Trip to The Learning Garden for the 13th

We will meet at The Learning Garden at 10 AM on the morning of the 13th. The Learning Garden is located on the campus of Venice High School. It is a very large campus and we are located on the very northwest corner, at the intersection of Venice Boulevard and Walgrove Avenue. If you enter from Walgrove through the 2nd gate south of Venice Boulevard, you will be able to find ample parking. I do not recommend parking in my drive on this day as we will have a lot of people coming in for our Pesto Day and you might find yourself blocked in.

Feel free to attend the swap meet at Venice High School or The Learning Garden’s Pesto Day after our class is over.

We will cover some pruning chores as well as any thing else in the Garden that interests you – one of the Garden’s volunteers who is an expert on sub-tropical fruits, bananas, cherimoyas, mangos and papayas (to name but a few), has agreed to be there and to take some of the lecture load off me for a bit – because of his schedule, we will probably start with him so if this topic interests you, be on time!

My cell phone will be on, call if you need more directions. The number is in a previous handout.


Bibliography for Edible Plants In the Landscape

Designing and Maintaining your Edible Landscape Naturally
, Kourick, Robert © 1986, Metamorphic Press, Santa Rosa, CA Probably the bible for this kind of garden. I own a first printing and a quick check shows that Amazon has it new for $33.46 (Permanent Publications; March 30, 2005), so it’s still a winner, after all these years.

Designing the New Kitchen Garden
, Bartley, Jennifer © 2006, Timber Press, Portland, OR Lots of wonderful ideas and source material for a good many daydreams. And source of some important lessons in creating a garden that can sustain more than just your spirit.

The Complete Book of Edible Landscaping: Home Landscaping with Food-Bearing Plants and Resource-Saving Techniques
, Creasy, Rosalind, © 1982, Sierra Club Books – This is where edible landscaping began! Still a good book!

The Grape Grower
, Rombough, Lon © 2002, Chelea Green Publishing, White River Junction, VT. Of several books on the subject of growing grapes, this is the most thorough, the best written and covers the most material. And they all cost about the same money. You’ll come to think of it as your very favorite, if you get into growing grapes for table or for wine.

The Old-Fashioned Fruit Gardener
, Gardner, Jo Ann, © 1989 Nimbus Publishing, Halifax, Nova Scotia A wonderful resource to learn how folks used to use small fruits of their garden complete with growing instructions and recipes.

Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden, Reich, Lee © 2004, Timber Press, Portland, OR If you are not familiar with Timber Press, check out their website, they are one of the best publishing houses in the field of horticulture today and their catalog will make your eyes twirl. We can’t grow all of these fruits, but this book is an eye opener for what can be grown vs. what IS grown. Each plant’s fruit is described with directions for cultivation and a list of desirable cultivars. This is the ‘expanded sequel’ to the book that drove me nuts trying to find a way to grow currants in Los Angeles (an as yet unfulfilled dream),