27 June, 2016

Another Installment of: He's Dead, Jim!

He's dead, Jim... No, really dead.
It's time for a new installment of "He's Dead, Jim...!"  

This poor tree is still standing on the block where I live.  That cut branch between the right and the center of the photo, a little above the middle of the photo has bedeviled me more than once.  Either the homeowner doesn't ever walk the sidewalk out front, or is perhaps shorter than five feet six, but that branch, before it was cut and to this day requires a person as tall as I am to be looking ahead or else!  I about had a major 'or else' last night as I walked home from a movie.

The plantings on this property are loaded with sad choices and indifferent care.  This one ranks as a public nuisance and keeping a dead tree in your front yard is a sad reflection of how we treat trees. Our society doesn't seem to acknowledge that trees are alive and are powerful beings in their own right.  We cut them without any kind of appreciation of the way they live - giving such jobs to the lowest bidder - and we approach them like, well, blocks of wood.  I could give a clinic on how not to prune trees on just about any block in Los Angeles, certainly here on my block and in the trees of The Learning Garde which are pruned by the lowest bidder to the Unified School District and not a soul in the crew that has cut our trees has the slightest knowledge of the internal workings of a tree - they butcher them with gusto.  I am not far from an avocado that is dying from lousy pruning and it breaks my heart.

I heard earlier today that Oregon's Supreme Court has declared that dogs are people too. It took a long time for the majority of Americans to acknowledge that pets are sentient beings, deserving of respect and appreciation like humans - soon we will be able to grant that plants are ever bit as sentient as we are - even if we show that sentience in different ways.  Scientists already agree that trees send messages to one another through their extensive root systems and fungi that populate those roots. 
What trees do in communicating with one another is amazing.  

This poor tree/shrub has been dead for almost 10 years - it needs to be chipped up and added to a garden as a part of a pathway.  I'm not sure I would recommend this home owner get a replacement unless they undergo "Plant Sensitivity" training.  

I'll teach that course... 


23 June, 2016

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About The Care and Feeding of Garden Tools

There are ads in gardening magazines proclaiming the next MUST HAVE garden tool, some of which are quite expensive. What do you really need to garden? What is the most effective way to use them? What can you do to make them easier to use? How do you make your tools last longer?
David with a Double Digger or Broadfork;
we'll cover this and everything up to it!

Self-proclaimed “lazy person,” David King knows that tools can make your gardening easier and more fun. He also knows which tools work and which are just a sales gimmick. He knows how to keep tools ready to be used for a very long time and he knows how to keep them sharp so they are easier to use. You'll learn all this plus a tool sharpening clinic.

Don't worry, we'll also cover what to do in your garden in July and we'll talk about keeping your wonderful garden alive and growing through the summer in Los Angeles. Your gardening questions answered and as usual, some kind of take-home gift for our July attendees.

Still only twenty bucks and worth twice that every time! No reservations required – you can use PayPal to pay in advance. Cash or check at the gate works too.

When:  10 to Noon, July 2nd 
Where:  The Learning Garden, Venice High School, enter at our Walgrove Gate
Who:  Experienced gardeners (good and bad), beginning gardeners and wanna be gardeners. And people who have gardening questions.
What: 2 hours of the most enthusiastic, fun, garden talk this side of the state, with insights gleaned from 50 years or so of doing a lot of things wrong.


19 June, 2016

Greener Gardens Happens This Summer Quarter!

Instructors Orchid Black, offering
Greener Gardens This Summer

Greener Gardens: Sustainable Garden Practice will start this Tuesday evening, June 21 and run through August 16.  This class is one of the elective classes for the Gardening and Horticulture Certificate Program and the Sustainability Certificate Program.  

Orchid and I have taught this course for several years at this point.  We are ever astounded at the quality of our students and their willingness to approach a different way of looking at our everyday life and how our gardens are a point of impact on the world.  Every action we take in our lives aligns our lifestyle with sustainablilty or not.  What can we change as individuals to live a less impactful life and in what way do we compromise?  

This is not the definitive course on being sustainable, but it does impact the way we act in out immediate environment and with our food.  This course features more than just a few aha moments!  

We meet on the campus of Venice High School - in The Learning Garden.  Please plan on parking on Walgrove or on Venice Blvd and enter through our gate on Walgrove Avenue (the first gate you come to as you proceed south on Walgrove Avenue).  Once in the Garden, venture in and follow the voices!  You can find the syllabus for this term here.

Enrollment data includes:  Greener Gardens: Sustainable Garden Practice   6/21/2016 -- 8/16/2016    BIOLGY    X 498.10   Reg#: 266323   Project#: 266-323   12 mtgs  6:30 to 9:30 PM


02 June, 2016

Farewell Gene Logsdon

Gene Logsdon,
(born 1932, died May 31, 2016)
Gene Logsdon has had more to do with my gardening thinking than any other man after my grandfather and I am saddened to learn of his passing.

Gene wrote for Rodale Publishing back in the 1970's, and I devoured many of his books - and much of those books is still relevant and good reading to this day.  His book, "The Gardener's Guide to Better Soil" (Rodale Press, 1975) was for many years my only soils book.  His "Small Scale Grain Raising" (also Rodale Press, 1977) was the original and for many years, the only, book on the subject was recently republished by Chelsea Green Publishing remaining as viable and arelevantnt as it was in the 1970's.  

He was not only a great purveyor of data and ideas, he had a sense of humor that showed through in even some of the most serious of books.  I remember his rant on gas prices in one of those older volumes even today and still chuckle about it.  It was his humanity combined with his matter of fact farming approach that made his work so long lasting.  And I can guarantee there are assuredly many new gardeners that will continue to learn from Gene as his books continue to teach.

If you have the chance to pick up a Gene Logsdon book, snatch it up.  You will laugh a little and learn a lot.  His legacy will live on in many teachers like myself that have been influenced by him and in turn teach a little bit of Gene in every lecture they give.

Gene Logsdon was one of the most prolific of this generation of garden/farming/sustainability writers of this era. He will be deeply missed.