28 May, 2022

Books; The First Selections for a Well Rounded Gardener


Reading List for June (these are the books I read that enlightened me as a gardener – several different lists for plants have been used over the last 20 years – you can find the lists posted at my blog;

The Complete Guide to Preserving Your Own Seeds for Your Garden Everything You Need to Know Explained Simply; Katie Murphy, 2011 Sometimes I think this book takes itself so seriously and tends to frustrate getting a direst answer without the old homey feel she's trying to project. However, the upside of that is you get a book that covers the nuances that this book maintains. And it does have the information. It's not expensive and if you have the cash, go for it.

Good Bugs for Your Garden; Allison Mia Starcher 1995 This is a great little book from a local artist and gardener (Santa Monica). It is still in print (I checked) and available at Amazon as well as eBay (for used copies that cost less). It is easy enough to read by children and informative enough to help adults carry on in their bug world.

The Resilient Gardener; Carol Deppe 2010 A very rewarding book in my list, her drawings and her familiarity with the insects that inhabit our gardens makes for fun reading and truly an education of these little critters – with which we must live, so grab a cup of coffee and sit down with this delightful book that you will read and reread over and over again. ANY book by Carol Deppe is worth it's time. Some of her books are not the books to start with – she taught this stuff in Oregon and can easily get a little too technical it's a great book, it just takes more effort to get through. She is brilliant – eventually read Deppe and you'll get what I mean.

Sadly, we lost Carol Deppe earlier this year. All of her books - and there are quite a few - are great books covering whatever the cover says it is covering. We will truly miss Carol but rejoice in the material she left behind. 

I finally did meet Carol at a seed fest held at the Seed Savers' Exchange held in the summer . I had told friends when I scheduled my flight to the mid-West that if I met up with Carol, I was going to buy her a drink of whatever she was drinking. I let it be known, I was not fooling around. 

I repeated my offer and finally one gentleman said, "Well there's your chance! That's her over there!" And so I marched over to her, repeated my offer and she laughed holding up a paper cup and said, "Well here you go, I'm drinking water." And then tried to induct me into a band she was putting together to sing about seeds. 


22 May, 2022

Use Less Water Now, Before You HAVE To


Water Wise Gardening in Los Angeles

David King, Gardenmaster at


the learning garden

If you listen to the news, you know California is in desperate drought and officials from all kinds of government are holding press conferences stressing the lack of water and everyone with a garden is being begged to use less water. Yet, if you want a garden producing food, how do you make the compromises needed to get some tomatoes or cucumbers without being guilty of over doing the water situation? https://www.permaculturenews.org/2010/09/16/ollas-unglazed-clay-pots-for-garden-irrigation/ 


Weeds are drinking water in your garden. You don't need that. Get the weeds out and 'they don't worry you no more.'

Time your Watering

Water later in the day so the water has a much smaller window in which to be evaporated. No matter the condition of your soil. Water later at night rather than earlier. If you water as the sun goes down, the plants will remain in the area of the roots longer.


Put drought resistant plants between the less resiliant so the hardy plants shade the less tolerable.


Keep your eyes on your plants, watch them with more diligence, with taller plants (tomatoes, climbing beans, squashes) allow some covering some of the more sensitive plants – it will cut down your yield, but it will also cue your water usage. Be diligent with all your food plants, you'll get more harvest. Keep a journal. Allow the garden to teach you.

Mulch your pathways with chipped wood; the larger pieces are great for putting on pathways, the semi-large pierces that once were the bigger plants are lovely in the beds; the sunshine breaks the chips into smaller and smaller pieces; and finally rake the almost disintegrated wood chips around the plants in the beds. This material finalizing the breaking down of the wood chips and are mutually helping one another in breaking down these bits of organic matter that feed your plants over a longer period of time.

Most important for getting organic matter into your garden bed, is to introduce organic mulch and the critters that are the life in the soil. “Organic mulch” somewhat saying the same thing twice, is anything that can be broken down in our gardens while making the soil more rich.

I haven't included several other ways to grow plants, including “hydroponics” which ditch the soil altogether and grow the plants in water. I'm not particularly enthused with using a lot of plastic in my garden or in anything I'm going to be eating. Call me superstitious...

On the other hand there are other ideas that I do believe might have merit our attention; the use of ollas is the same idea as drip, but instead of plastic, the garden has underground clay pots that “leak” water into the soil, cutting out the need for plastic hoses and the like. They still need some research before they'll be accepted at large, but I see a lot of benefits in the mindset that brings changes in our vision and new ways to solve old problems. (Olla - pronounced oyeyas) - this is a sample of what they look like - although they come in all the colors of the world, this is the raw olla and would be one of my first choices for a garden as it blends into the garden over time. 

Sooner or later Angeles residents will be FORCED to adhere to some pretty hard new rules and we should be look at the new rules and begin, now, to decide what to do at once when the water is turned off. Even if you already garden with a look to sustainable practices, be advised that not enough people with reduce their water consumption (a fact we have learned from previous "save water" campaigns. Every single person who scoffs at demands we need to improve our water usage will prove the efficacy of water wise gardening. Make it a fun project; just do something to maintain our water supply. We are called to do better than we have. 


17 May, 2022

A King's Vision of a Greek Salad

It might be a bit early to think of the tomato harvest, and my admonitions to... but shucks! Those ripe and delicious tomatoes and cucumbers sing the early summer songs and I drift away with visions of previous Summers blessed with these delicious. This recipe (not really a recipe in the strictest of ways), is a part of Summers since childhood. 

Close to equal amounts of fresh tomatoes and fresh cucumbers. Do not slice neatly, but quickly and crudely chunk them into more or less bite sized pieces. I will be using San Marzano tomatoes and Armenian cucumbers for most of these this year. I love it! Greek salad with Italian tomatoes and Armenian cukes! Life in America.

Besides cukes and tomatoes, you will need a bit of everything below – keep them on hand throughout the summer and you'll be grateful more than once.

Olive oil – enough to generously coat each bite, not so much as to float anything

Pepper to taste

Small slices of red onion for a some zing (the Italian 'Torpedo,' or Tropea onions are one of my favorites) – the zing really brings out the lusciousness of everything else. The onions should not be the main attraction.

Crushed dried oregano (I like the Greek oregano)

Homemade or a really good store bought feta cheese also cut into chunks.

Mix them all together with laughter; the actual order things are placed in the bowl is not all that important, it's a forgetful, or disorderly, cook's dream!

Serve with:

Homemade bread yummmm – homemade bread!

Herb tea or lemonade

Good friends...

Change it up as availability of ingredients dictates.

Eat till you're full then take a nap in dappled sunshine!

But to have this party in your own back yard, you need to get going now! Our next “What To Do and When To Do It” on the 4th of June. Only $20 (still) and full of humor, to mix wisdom and get your garden ignited. Still the 4th, 10 AM to noon. We are outside, let that be your call for how you dress.. We'll post where we will have the class, check here or email David, greenteach@gmail.com!

Enjoy this summer all the more!

David King


Enjoy this summer!

David King