31 October, 2019

David King's Garden Class November 2nd!!

Baby lettuce seedlings pricked apart for planting - maximizing your space!

Fresh from the Premier of my latest movie, I am not lying!, there's a lot to be done in our garden this month and we're going to pull some weeds and plant some seeds and make our gardens rock with good planting and harvesting vibes. With November, we really feel the garden shutting down - especially as there are only so many more days to spend your money, but our gardens just don't shut completely! We have lot's to do and less time to do it in, so..... 

What To Do And When To Do It this Saturday, 10 to Noon, in The Learning Garden with yours truly. What do we plant, how do we plant it, problems with your worm bin, and all kinds of questions and more answered!  As usual, we'll have a recipe for something current, talk about short term planning and some long term planning. Both are "yummy!" 

Enter off of Walgrove (park on the street please) and come on in! For a measly twenty bucks, get your day and your month started off right! Answers to your questions and a laugh or two besides for free! 

Looking forward to it!


27 October, 2019

Notes on Composting

Benefits of compost

Recycling – keeping plant materials out of the landfills – keeps landfills from filling up too fast, and keeps the sun's energy out of the landfill
Builds soil structure and fertility

Absolute Minimum Needed to Start a Compost Pile
Stuff to break down
Place to put it

Composting Piles and Methodologies

No pile – dig it into the soil (trench composting)
Plastic bins
Wire bins
Wooden bins (three)
No bins
Collect every waste you can for composting from your own house first
newsprint, tea bags, coffee grounds, veggie and fruit trimmings, food that died in the fridge; no dog or cat waste, bones and unused meat, these are poor choices, they break down slowly and/or they attract unwanted beasts.

Check with neighbors for their free waste i.e. coffee grounds, leaves,
find local waste that's free – wood chips, sawdust, Starbucks coffee grounds, scrounge your neighborhood for waste streams that could prove useful – another's trash could be your treasure


Commercial products that contain microbes to inoculate your compost pile. Most research shows limited use as the number of microbes multiply to full capacity in short order, but they would do that (more slowly) without the inoculation. No matter the claims made by the sales force for such products, most independent research indicate little, if any, positive long term effect from such products.

After too little water, the most common failure in compost piles is a lack of nitrogen – too little materials with not enough nitrogen to facilitate heating up or quick decomposition; all the detritivores need nitrogen to build their protoplasm and do to their work. Additional inputs of nitrogen will correct a slow pile, assuming that lack of water is not the problem.


Alfalfa – one of my favorites, sold as livestock feed in feed stores. One bale sells for under $20. It has some nitrogen and absorbs, and holds onto moisture making it an excellent addition to a compost pile. Alfalfa serves as a good compost stimulant and activator. Alfalfa sold as animal feed in dehydrated pellets or a meal works just as well too.
Apple pomace – any pomace – leftovers from crushing fruits for their juice. Will attract yellow jackets and other wasps so cover them with leaves or soil or straw or hay.
Banana residue – makes a compost pile go whoopee – seems well supplied with nitrogen and guarantee lots of bacterial activity
Beet waste – if you should move near a sugar beet processing plant – many books will recommend beet waste – be careful, though, now that GMO sugar beets have begun to be used.
Bonemeal – high in phosphorus if you find yourself within striking distance of a slaughterhouse. Ditto for blood meal. Five pound bags should last longer than the printing on the label.
Citrus wastes – from your table is sometimes denigrated as a compost pile component, but it is good in nutrients and breaks down quickly. If you are near a factory producing orange and other citrus products – sometimes available from some feed stores – the more peel the more nitrogen the final product will contain. They can be hard to break down.
Cocoa Bean Shells – for those that live near a chocolate factory – they are rich in nitrogen and benefit the soil no matter how they are used. They do not break down quickly so I have used them as pathway mulch. I have heard they are poisonous to dogs although I used them whilst living with two dogs and neither dog showed the slightest interest in them. They smell great, so you might find yourself gorging on chocolate as a result.
Coffee wastes – earthworms love them and they break down nicely. Slightly acidic they make a good mulch around any acid loving plant (skipping the compost pile altogether). Mix them with other OM as they hold moisture well. If allowed to sour, they will attract fruit flies.
Cottonseed meal – commercially available as fertilizer – used to be a great source of nitrogen but most of it is now GMO, as well being sprayed with insecticides of all kinds. I would skip it these days unless you can find a source of organic cottonseed meal. It is one of the most dependable long term organic sources for nitrogen, a rare thing for an organic garden.
Garbage – will be one of your most consistent and reliable components in your compost pile. Do not use meat craps, fat or bones in your pile for they take too long to fully break down and are very attractive to scavenging animals. When put into your compost pile, always mix with absorbent material like dead leaves, straw or hay and cover them completely with dirt or other substantive materials to prevent smells and discourage flies.
Grape wastes – from wineries, producing waste products in the way of skin residue, seeds and stalks by the ton in pressing season. Not a lot of nutrition but the bulk of organic plant matter may be useful to achieve a rapid hot compost
Grass clippings – most of us have these or can easily obtain them from neighbors who have them. Exceedingly rich in nitrogen, and will heat up on their own if put into a pile, but, because of their shape and high moisture content can pack down, rotting and turn slimy and smelly on you. Add grass clippings in small layers and mix with leaves, garbage and or other materials. Dried grass clippings will have lost most of their nitrogen, treat like hay or straw. If the source lawn is being treated with herbicides, use with care – although the composting process, if done properly, will remove most of those residues.
Hair – if you can get an amount of it is probably the most concentrated source of nitrogen you can get for free. Six to seven pounds of hair can contain as much nitrogen as 100 to 200 pounds of manure. Hair will decompose rapidly although it may pack down and shed water – mix with other materials to prevent that. Available for free from barbershops or hair salons.
Hay – you can buy a bale from a feed store – may contain weed seeds unless it was cut early – how would you know? If you can find spoiled hay from a farmer it will be free or at low cost.
Leaves – very compostable and available for free to most of us. Leaves, because of the extensive roots of trees that forage deep into the subsoil for nutrients, are a superior component in your compost. Pound for pound, leaves provide twice the mineral content of manure. They are low in nitrogen and may pack down slowing break down, but mixed with a good source of nitrogen and kept aerated, they are a fabulous resource.
Manure – used with discretion can be an important part of a compost pile. If you have chickens or rabbits (or any farm animal) I suggest you use it in your compost pile; but I do not encourage importing fresh animal manures if you do not know the animal. Many of our farm animals today get unregulated dosages of medications and that will be expressed through their feces and urine, furthermore, most animals today are not pastured and their manure will have high concentrations of urine in the manure – urine is high in salts. If you do have a source of manure, use it in the compost pile, get a hot pile and let it break down thoroughly before incorporating these items into your soil. If it smells like animal poop, it is still too fresh.
Paper – you can use paper of many kinds even those with colored ink and slick pages. The secret, and the problem, for using paper waste is they need to be shredded or chopped into fine bits for successful incorporation into the pile. I have used paper from an office shredder, but it was difficult to wet and until wetted was airborne faster than corn pollen. Wetted newsprint is excellent. Use like straw.
Pine needles – in the south it's called pine straw, but they break down super slowly. They are highly acidic and that means they should not be used intemperately. They have been found effective at controlling Fusarium wilts.
Rice hulls – a great source of potash and break down readily in your compost pile. They are an excellent soil conditioner, are loved in the compost heap and are a desirable mulch. Many soil conditioners contain large amounts of rice hulls for the 'fluffy.'
Sawdust – available from lumber yards or furniture refinishers. It is valuable as a source of a carbon and helps allow good air penetration into the compost pile. It is slow to break down – the robbing of nitrogen that is often a source of concern for gardeners, most research (my own anecdotal experience included) shows that is not a credible problem.
Seaweed – free and available on the beach, but, some folks worry about the radioactive level since the recent nuclear power plant problems in Japan. It has a similar nutrient level as manure, but should be composted while fresh. While I have worried about salt content, I see no mention of it in most composting literature. Seaweed contains a multitude of micronutrients essential to human and plant health. Mix with other materials and it will decompose quickly. Kelp meal can be used as an activator in compost.
Soil – not an essential component in a working compost pile, it can prove helpful. Soil can be used as an inoculate to imbue your pile with microbial activity. Most gardeners, though, add a small amounts of finished compost to a new pile as an activator, which is probably a better strategy.
Straw – adds few nutrients but does add organic material and helps aerate a compost pile. It adds carbon to the pile and is a sort of plant food. If using a lot of straw, add commensurate amounts of nitrogen. Straw that has already begun to break down is a wonderful addition to any compost pile.
Tea leaves – high content of nitrogen (about 4.15%) and breaks down easily.
Weeds – non-perennial weeds can be be placed in the compost pile as long as they are not seeding. Some weeds, like mallow, have an incredible tap root and bring materials from the subsoil up which is in the plant leaves and stems making their contribution to the compost pile much more desirable. However, some weeds, like Bermuda grass, which also has a tremendous root system (Bermuda roots are known to go as far as 27 feet deep!) will only grow in your compost pile – don't risk it.
Wood ashes – a valuable source off potash. Use cautiously for they have a strong alkalizing effect and might also increase soil salinity.
Wood chips – useful in the garden and compost pile. They do break down slowly, but even as they break down they increase the moisture holding capacity and aerate the soil. If your soil has enough nitrogen to begin with, decomposing wood chips should not adversely affect your soil's nitrogen availability.

26 October, 2019

Urban & Peri-Urban Gardens: The Bigger Picture

Essentially, this course is a course about urban and peri-urban food production. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations defines peri-urban agriculture as "agriculture practices within and around cities which compete for resources (land, water, energy, labor) that could also serve other purposes to satisfy the requirements of the urban population." The FAO is an excellent source for data and publications for research. The data urban and peri-urban farmers/gardeners need is either not produced in the the United States, or, when produced is frequently no more than an advertisement for chemical fertilizer and chemical weed mitigation.

The FAO, in “Urban and Peri-urban Agriculture” The challenge of supplying nutritionally adequate and safe food to city dwellers is substantial. Accomplishing this task under conditions of growth and congestion demands that policy-makers seize opportunities for integrating resource management and planning efforts, understanding potential linkages between rural and urban areas, and anticipating the changing needs of a country's citizens - both rural and urban. Part of the reason for the observed growth in UPA is due to its adaptability and mobility compared with rural agriculture. As cities expand physically, the frontiers between urban, peri-urban and rural activity blur and merge, presenting opportunities for beneficial linkages.

These gardens/agriculture land, in the peri-urban setting are often in competition for other projects as bits and pieces of open land, not already in use, comprise a diminishing percentage of the urban landscape. Peri-urban land, falls in the continuum between rural and urban, having varying similarities and differences along that continuum.

Peri-urban is that agricultural production that is closest to urban centers and more distant from rural tracts. While offering the chance to eat fresh vegetables and fruits, it is more difficult to grow and without the cooperation of the community around the growing area, can make growing healthy food impossible. Yet, the lure of having locally produced vegetables and fruit offers many advantages to the urban population in terms of taste and nutrition by virtue of the freshness of the produce.

Peri-urban gardening may be complimented with chickens and their eggs or goats and their milk, but the introduction of animals into the urban landscape can often bring a host of problems that are not found in a plant based operation. One of the biggest challenges in the coming years will be how can we grow sufficient amounts of food for the central city at a price that is affordable and yet high enough to support the farmer and the farmer's family. The face of a gardener/farmer, worldwide, is the face of a woman, so these questions are formed knowing that wage discrimination against women workers has been a constant problem in our culture and will need to be addressed as our food production changes in the coming years.

The concept of the peri-urban garden – and the urban garden, though at a more limited level – can only prove to be beneficial if these issues are confronted and solved:

          1. Water supplies are not contaminated by the urban/peri-urban farms, especially, but not limited to, those growing animals in addition to vegetables and fruit.
          2. Remediation of water supplies on site to clean the water to certifiable standards.
          3. Air quality is not compromised by dust or smell.
          4. Garden waste remains on site to be composted.
          5. Gardens take in plant waste for composting.
          6. Gardeners learn how to deal with vermin in a socially accepted manner or a wholesale change in society's concept of acceptable vermin damage.
          7. Inner city gardens might make a better contribution by growing mushrooms.
          8. Food will be fresher allowing for more nutrition and food security providing producers keep food properly until sold, by observing sanitation best practices. If not followed, the close proximity of people, animals and microbial presence will make this much more of a challenge in the future.
          9. Farmers are allowed to have multi-year leases – or, better yet, ownership – of the land they farm on, giving them the impetus to keep the garden clean from diseases and infestations.

The inner city, with skyscrapers, presents the most challenge for farmers. As one moves towards the outer city, with fewer floors between the garden and the sun, growing food generally becomes easier. It is probably not a stretch to assume that, as one moves further and further from the central city that gardens can be more productive – however, one can also speculate that the further you get from city center, the number of buyers close at hand diminishes as well.

Farmers already are producing and selling their goods along this line. They harvest their products for sale and spend Wednesdays or some other day at a farmers' market, direct selling their goods to consumers. Of course this is out in the urban, if not rural lands. These farmers' markets are the start of this decentralization of our food production and have proven successful and desirable for consumers and cities alike.

All these farms, from the urban and peri-urban areas are more likely to be smaller than the farms we have today while production levels must remain constant or increase. In addition, these farms, will specialize in certain products and diversify the goods they bring to market. Like
      1. Aquaculture – growing fish for market, using their waste for fertilizer for vegetables etc.
      2. Urban beekeeping, supplementing honey, wax and pollination services.
      3. and mycology – growing mushrooms which will be in a greater demand as science shows us all the benefits of different varities.
While our food supply will strain to provide enough calories for the populace at the same time it will provide a variety of foods that are uncommon today. Farmers all along the continuum will strive to find products they can feature and draw in customers in addition to the common products easily found in the market.

The positive effects that can be gained from an urban and/or peri-urban food supply include the following:
    • providing green spaces throughout the city, even to the inner downtown city
    • green space preservation will also enhance carbon sequestration – all food production done correctly sequesters carbon
    • reduce the heat island effect that is common in our cities already
    • recycling of gray water conserving water and reduce waste

At the same time, unwanted inputs will need to be dealt with, including:
    • chemical and physical of roadway exhaust
    • heavy metal residues
    • soil and water pollution including industrial chemicals, antibiotics and heavy-metals. Among others.

Obviously, inner city farmers, more than others, will be faced with a variety of waste material that is not common today. All waste products that can be safely used in composting and other natural breakdown of material, will be in abundance, however, the same can be said about materials we don't want which may be just as ubiquitous.

In addition to those growers striving to make an income, there will be average citizens that will still wish to grow there own. From the 1890's growing some of your own food in the city has been a part of the American life style. The modest beginning in 1890's, in the wake of the 1890's Depression that a formal community garden emerged, native to the United States. It was in Detroit, using vacant lots, the city government gave the laid off workers a chance to feed their families.

In that same era, in the 1890's, community gardens were created in San Francisco and Boston – both still active gardening cities to this date. New York had its first gardens in the early 1900's. And it too has remained a gardening city!

In World War 1, at the behest of the Wilson administration, Americans began to build their “Liberty Gardens” using their front lawns and other unused land to grow a 24% share of the food grown in the US, creating a tradition of growing your own food close to home. The term "community garden" came into use to describe collectively grown gardens and gardens with individual plots during World War I. The gardens opened the idea of city gardens/community gardens and the concept has been a part of the woof and warp of American life since that time.

The Roosevelt administration in WW2 wanted the food growing to stay in the hands of professionals and discouraged amateurs from planting their “Victory Gardens.” The populace would not have it and went about putting in driveway gardens, front yard gardens and parkway gardens and finally the Roosevelt administration succumbed and thew in with the people and Victory Gardens became a part of the American legend of the World Wars. These gardens were successful in producing healthy food for consumption for the folks at home – freeing up the traditional supplies of vegetables for shipping to the front. By May 1943 (we didn't go to war until December 1942), there were 18 million gardens producing food, which, along with rationing, allowed the US to ship food out to the war zones where many farms had been destroyed by bombing or other acts of war removing the farmers from the war zone and eliminating their ability to feed the populations in the conflict zone.

These Victory Gardens were a step towards urban gardens. Harking back to the community plots of 1890s, cities began to look for unused land to allow citizens to grow their own food for a nominal rental fee that paid for water use and sometimes fencing. Los Angeles has something more than 90 active community gardens, most started during the administration of Mayor Tom Bradley, showcasing LA's diverse cultures and culinary traditions.

Los Angeles' demand for community gardens has far outpaced the demand. In the 1980's, when I got my first community garden, the wait list was about two weeks and they gave me 4 plots to work in! Nowadays, I hear of people waiting years for a plot.

In the community gardens in Los Angeles, you pay an annual fee and are required to do a set number of community work hours in the garden. When I got my first plot in Ocean View Farms, plots were about 14 feet square and laid out on a slope facing the ocean, which is a few miles away, providing full sun exposure to almost all the plots. In conjunction with the Master Gardener program, UC Davis has written a beginning gardener's curriculum which is taught multiple times all over the LA Area – I teach two per year (Spring and Fall) for a nominal fee, to get people off on the right start in the community garden experience.


19 October, 2019

A Soils Bibliography by David King

Not all these books are "soil" books. "Out of the Earth" is a book about the history of soil as much as it is about soil, and likewise, "The Worst Hardtime" is about the degradation humans did to the soils of the mid-west in the 1920's resulting dust storms. Note, drive up the 101 for a few miles out of LA and look at how the fields and orchards are planted. It's the same way farmers plowed back in the 20's and 30's. (I just discovered that "Out of the Earth" now has quite a price. It must be out of print at this point.) 

Out of the Earth: Civilization and the Life of the Soil©1992 University of California Press , Hillel, Daniel. Hillel has written one of the most beautiful books on soil that has ever been published. This book introduces a little of soil science to the reader, but more than that, it fosters a love of the soil and an understanding about the magnitude and gravity of misuse and degradation; civilizations have paid little heed to the soil underfoot and it has cost them dearly. A delightful read!

Soils and Men, Yearbook of Agriculture 1938© 1938, United States Department of Agriculture, The Committee on Soils. A government publication, no sane person will read from beginning to end! It is referenced here because it clearly shows the US government knew about the soil food web as early as 1938 and chose to ignore that information in favor of more commerce in chemical based fertilizers. We are at a point where ignoring the soil food web is too costly to continue.

Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web, Revised Edition, © 2010 Timber Press, Lowenfels, Jeff and Lewis, Wayne. This is the second edition of the book that blew my eyes open on the biology of the soil and how we cannot ignore that biology plays at least as big a part of soil fertility as chemistry. We ignore biology to our own detriment and destroy our soils.

The Rodale Book of Composting©1992 Rodale Press, Martin, Deborah and Gershuny, Grace Editors. This is the only book to read on composting. Everything else is compostable.

The Worst Hard Time, The Untold Story of Those Who Survived The Great American Dustbowl © 2005; Mariner Reprint Edition, Egan, Timothy. Not strictly a soils book, but a real eye opener that shows how we are repeating many of the same mistakes today as what lead to the disaster we call the Dustbowl. This book is gripping reading and is not fiction. It really happened and it happened on a scale unprecedented in modern times. We can do it again if we fail to heed these words. A VERY good read on soils and man's relationship to them.

13 October, 2019

List of Seed Houses:

This a list, incomplete at least, is a good starting place. There are many, many more seed companies and sorting them can become a compulsive hobby. Oh but what fun!

BAKER CREEK HEIRLOOM SEEDS; www.rareseeds.com 2278 Baker Creek Road Mansfield, MO 65704; 417.924.8917 What a catalog! Beautiful pictures of the produce – vegetable porn for sure. I have found many off the wall and obscure seeds I've ordered from them. They are often the only source for some of these seeds. Anyone who works this hard in putting out a beautiful seed catalog is working with a great deal of love. Drooling is hardly optional here.

www.groworganic.com PO Box 2209; Grass Valley, CA 95945; 916.272.4769 I have purchased many seeds (and a lot of other things!) from Peaceful Valley – I love their catalog. They have an excellent selection of cover crop seeds as well as a lot of organic gardening supplies and tools. I have used their catalog to teach organic gardening because they clearly explain their products and how to use them. They are easily accessible for answering questions.

www.nativeseeds.org 526 N. 4th Ave. Tucson, AZ 85705; 520.622.5561 (Fax 520.622.5591) Specializing in the seeds of seeds of south western United States, concentrating on the ancient seeds of the First Nations People from amaranth to watermelon, a lot of them from the O'odam lineage. A worthy cause for your money. And good seed – some amazing varieties found no where else.
PINETREE GARDEN SEEDS; www.superseeds.com PO Box 300, Rt. 100; New Gloucester, ME 04260; 207.926.3400 Probably the best for a home gardener – small packets of very current seed and some open pollinated varieties, a very good value. The smaller packets mean a smaller price so a person can order a lot more varieties and experiment. I have been a customer for many years.

www.seedsavers.org Rt. 3 Box 239; Decorah, Iowa 52101; 563.382.5990 Membership fee $35. (You need not be a member to order seeds.) Free brochure. Some organic, but ALL open-pollinated. There are two ways to save seeds: one is to collect them all and keep them in a huge building that protects them from everything up to (and including) nuclear holocaust. The other way is to grow 'em. You can find the chance to grow them here. I have been a member for about 10 years and believe in their work.
SOUTHERN EXPOSURE SEED EXCHANGE; www.southernexposure.com P.O. Box 460, Mineral, VA 23117, 540.894.9480 (Fax: 540.894.9481) A commercial venture that is somewhat similar to Seed Savers Exchange, but really isn't an exchange. They do carry seed saving supplies - nice to have if you are going to save seed. And they sell some pretty different varieties. While they are in Virginia, most of their plants will do fine in our climate.

05 October, 2019

Urban Food Production, Fall 2019; UCLA Extension

Course Number: Biology X 489.6  

Instructor: David King


There are no prerequisites for this course, although some experience with gardening will prove useful.

All classes meet at garden space on the UCLA Campus near DeNeve Hall on the north west portion of the campus. It is not easy to find, I suggest going as a group the first time (at least) and getting your bearing that way. We do NOT have a classroom after the first meeting so we will meet at some picnic tables for all classes after the first. ** If it rains we meet any way. Most of our heavy rain is ahead of us, class will continue in a light rain.**

The production, packaging, and transportation of food are large contributors to our global carbon emissions. Throughout the Los Angeles Basin, food gardens have sprung up to produce local healthy and nutritious fruits and vegetables while contributing energy and financial savings in difficult economic times. Using the history of growing food in the city in times of need as a template, this course explores how homegrown food can reduce your food budget and address environmental concerns. Participants each have a small plot for growing food where they can experiment with new ideas and enjoy their harvest. Topics include fruit trees, vegetables, and berries that do well in our climate as well as often overlooked food-producing perennials and how to grow food in modern city lots where the "back forty" describes square feet and not acres.

Textbooks Required If You Plan on Gardening Here A Lot

Title The New Sunset Western Garden Book (NOT REQUIRED)
Author Brenzel, Kathleen Norris (Editor)
Edition Feb. 2012
Publisher Sunset Books
ISBN 978-0376039170

There will be no assigned reading from this book, but it really is essential if you are gardening in Southern California. The most recent edition is not really necessary, however, it does have more data in it and with each edition Sunset pays more respect to food gardening. It is not required for the course.

This will be supplemented by postings on my Garden Notes blog, http://lagardennotes.blogspot.com/ . I hope to post most of the material in the days prior to the class when it will be used or immediately afterwards.

Textbooks, Recommended:

Title: The Kitchen Garden
Author Thompson, Sylvia
Edition First
Publisher Bantam Books
ISBN 0-553-08138-1
*(She has a companion cookbook that is worth investigation too!)
Title: Heirloom Vegetable Gardening
Author Weaver, William Woys
Edition Second!!
Publisher Henry Holt
ISBN 978-0760359921
A NEW edition at last!!!
Title: Pests of the Garden and Small Farm
Author Flint, Mary Louise
Edition 2nd
Publisher Univ of California Agriculture & Natural Resources
ISBN-13: 978-1879906402
Title: The Resilient Gardener

Author Deppe, Carol
Edition First
Publisher Chelsea Green
ISBN-13: 978-1603580311

There will be no assigned reading from any of these books. The rest of the literature, as references, will prove invaluable to any serious student in this field. There will be bibliographies describing other books as the quarter progresses, I am a ferocious reader and not at all shy about suggesting books I think deserve your attention. From the bibliography, you will choose one book to read and report on. This report will be turned in at the end of class; see the point assignment structure on the next page.

Course Schedule:

06 October
Introduction/Seed Starting/Urban gardening in context today/12 Points to a Better Garden,
Book Report/The Journal/Food crops of winter/succession plantings 
Soils and Hydrology 
Tools/Urban Gardens Bigger Picture
03 November
Planting/Sheet composting/Composting/ Planting Timing and Design/SLOLA/Seeds/Light/Water/
Sources/Annuals/ Soil Contamination and Remediation
Planting/Companions/Crop Rotation in a Small Garden/ Beekeeping?
01 December
Chickens in the Urban Foodscape (Field Trip?)

Planning for Continuous Harvests/Potluck/Submit your journal etc for a grade. Sustainability and Food Issues in Modern America/Visit Garden

(Syllabus may be changed as needed to reflect reality.)
Please note that in Fall quarter there are many holidays and plants do not take a holiday. – we will need to ensure that watering happens to keep the plants alive if there is no rain while we all enjoy our celebrations.

Point Assignment Structure
Class participation (and cooperation)

Grade of A
> 90%
Garden Journal

1 page book review

Planting Project

D and F

I have two over-arching goals in all the classes I teach:
      1. To teach folks how to grow some of their own food.
      2. To teach folks how to be a part of a community.
If you want a good grade, keep that in mind. These are the things we will need as a people in the very near future. If we don't learn this, we will be in deep trouble.

Therefore, please note, I try to grade you on your personal improvement. Cooperation is counted more than competition in my classes.

Office hours are by appointment only – please call or email me. I am willing to meet with you; I want you to learn; I do not want you to struggle. Please do not hesitate to call me, rather than try to talk to me in class when I can't really give you undivided attention. Extra points are available if you wish to earn more credit.

Each class, as we start, will usually begin with lecture and then proceed to the garden where we will share the garden chores and harvest.

You are encouraged to experiment in the garden plot. Your process should be thoroughly documented in your journal – your thinking and your understanding of what is happening in your garden. If you have a problem, research a solution.

Pick one book from the ones presented in class to read and write a one or two page report. 

As often as I can, I will prepare some seasonal food to eat. There are no places to buy food while in class and we are here for four hours. Students are encouraged to bring in food to share with the class at all meetings. Students should bring in their own plate and eating utensils so we can have a minimum waste event. The last class meeting will be a potluck where we will all share local and fresh food! (That's the point, right?)

Criteria for your garden journal grade:
  1. Documentation of what you planted when
  2. Documentation of weather elements – temperature (minimum and maximum) as well as an precipitation and noting humidity or dryness, especially of Santa Ana winds.
  3. Germination per cent of plant sown from seed
  4. Choice of varieties sources and reasoning
  5. Success/failures discussed – alternatives to failures/expansion of successes
  6. Plans for the future
  7. Drawings (or photos) of the garden (either done by hand or by computer program) NOTE: this notebook is NOT your class notes – they might be included, but what I want are your garden observations!

Criteria for your garden plot grade:
  1. You should experiment and try something you have never done – explore – and make note of your experiment(s) in your notebook!
  2. Our plot and adjacent pathways must be cleared of weeds.
  3. Our plots and adjacent pathways must be well mulched. (Up to me to find the mulch.)
  4. All of our plot should be attractive and be growing some food.
  5. Your journal should indicate you learned something from the plot, your journal and your plot are intertwined and work together.
  6. When presented with the opportunity, you should cooperate with other students, help those in need and be a team member of this class.

The person who starts from seed vs. bringing in growing plants, will have plants not nearly as far along as the others – but stands to make a better grade if they have experimented with growing from seed – I am more interested that you LEARN in this class – just doing what you already have done doesn't teach you anything. We are all gardeners here, if we don't have patience yet, we soon will. Cultivate patience with your plants in this class setting.

All handouts (including this syllabus) will be available on the blog site:

Please keep a sweater or jacket handy. Class is not canceled on account of rain. As long as you can hear my voice, class will go on, though I will try to get us out of the rain.

01 October, 2019

October Can Be Busy In The Garden!

The rest of the country is talking about putting perennials "to bed" and in our gardens we are madly planting all the cool season plants we love so much - garlic and all those wonderful alliums, and all the cabbage/broccoli family members as well as garbanzos and loads of other delicious food!

Do be weather wise!  While this is our cool season, it can still pack awfully hot days! How do you deal with that kind of a change? We've got this solved in a dynamite way that increases food production in the garden without a lot of extra effort. October we will focus on composting as one of our principles and an introduction to some of the science of gardening - all in a form that won't have you trying to stay awake!

Bring your questions and twenty bucks and you'll go home smarter with less tension cause you'll be more prepared for October in the Garden!

In the Garden this Saturday, October 5th, 10 to Noon, in our garden classroom - enter off Walgrove.  Come in layers of clothes for optimum comfort this close to the ocean!

See you there!