look what the garden gave me for supper Jan 1!

  • 2 lbs sweet potatoes
  • collardsIMG_5176
  • chayote
  • oregano

all from a plot that gets no direct sun between Nov to Feb!  I harvested about 15 lbs of sweet potatoes from 3 plants.  I’m amazed that they grow in the shade and seem to mature in cool temperatures.  They don’t seem to need much water.

IMG_5072Their flowers were blooming Oct – Dec.

Check out the personality of this 4 pounder!  You can see that gramma is happy about it too!

Secrets of Seed Saving Workshop

On Saturday, fellow Eco-Villager Nichole and I trekked over to Whittier for the Secrets of Seed Saving workshop. It was held at the Strub Avenue Farm and Garden, a wonderful backyard farm which is part of a network of urban backyard farms called Whittier Backyard Farms.

We were lucky to have horticulturalist David King instruct the workshop (left). He is the garden master of The Learning Garden in Venice, CA, author of the LA Garden Blog, and chair of the Seed Library of Los Angeles, and gave a fun and informative workshop on how to save seeds and the importance of doing so.

David explained the nuts and bolts of how to save seeds for a variety of vegetables. This included how to allow plants to go to seed, and drying, harvesting and storing seeds. He also covered ways to minimize cross pollination between different species of  the same genus by practices such as hand pollination and covering crops with fabric.

The most compelling part of the workshop for me was the why. Why save seeds?

Traditionally, farmers and gardeners would harvest and save seeds for future growing. In the past several decades, there has been a major shift to purchasing seed annually from commercial seed suppliers, and seeds are commonly developed so that the plants you grow from them do not produce seed that will reproduce the same plant. This has dramatically increased the dependency on commercial seed companies.

There has also been a sharp decrease in the variety of seeds over the past century. This handout (right) David gave us shows that there were 408 varieties of tomato seeds available in 1903, and only 79 available in 1983. This is a pattern across many vegetables.  The reason this is dangerous, David explains, is that if we are commercially growing only a few varieties on a large scale, and a pest or disease attacks one variety, then we could  risk major food shortages. He gave the example of the Irish Potato Famine where there were only 2 varieties of potatoes being grown. A wider variety means more diverse traits, such as different vulnerabilities and strengths to different conditions.

After the workshop, the hosts provided a delicious lunch featuring food from the garden. The meal was followed by a seed swap where people shared seeds they either bought or saved. I happily came home with arugula, kale, poppy, calendula, dill and okra seeds.

I am newly inspired to continue to grow food, save seeds and share seeds. Thanks to Megan from Strub Family Farm and Garden for organizing the workshop.

Great News! Learning Garden Agreement Signed!

This vacant lot will soon become the White House Place Learning Garden

On January 20th 2011, the Los Angeles Unified School District and the Beverly Vermont Community Land Trust (BVCLT) signed the joint use agreement that enables a new learning garden at Los Angeles Eco-Village! The site is the currently-vacant lot at the north east corner of the intersection of Bimini Place and White House Place.

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bees dig flowering artichokes

going to the roof just to watch the bees is not practical nor desirable (from the roof’s wear standpoint).  so i noticed some bees coming to the artichoke flowers today and took this little video (and only after uploading it did i notice there are many more like it on youtube):

Urbanite Coffee Table

‘urbanite’ being an affectionate name for chunks of broken concrete used for building stuff. this one piece of urbanite was lying around, unused, and i put it on top of two blocks and decorated it with my bee fever hexagonal pattern. next to the bowling alley bench that rests on a bed frame structure lovingly welded and also decorated by yours truly with the heart and corn-dna pattern.  reused outdoor chic.   now you know what to do with a 200 pound discarded piece of that crazy stuff we humans poured all over the landscape.

Finally Finishing the Second Garden Bed in the Front Bulbout

Bobby and Josh resting on our laurels

Thanks to great work by Bobby and Josh today, and lunch provided by Zoe, we finally finished building the second planter bed at the north end of the bulbout in front of Los Angeles Eco-Village. There’s background on the bulbout and before pictures here, and a post on our first completed raised bed thereon.

More pictures and description follows.

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C.I.C.L.E.’s Urban Garden Bike Ride to Visit LAEV this Saturday

A few of the happy velocipedists at C.I.C.L.E.'s November 2009 Tweed, Moxie and Moustache Ride

The non-profit group Cyclists Inciting Change thru Live Exchange (C.I.C.L.E.) hosts a monthly series of Urban Expedition bike rides in various parts of L.A. County. Urban Expeditions are beginner-friendly and family-friendly. Participants are encouraged to bring friends who are less confident. The rides are relatively short (5-8 miles) with a few stops for rest and learning. There are lots of C.I.C.L.E. volunteers to help keep things really safe and fun. Participants and leaders often dress up to celebrate the ride’s theme (check out these pictures of our recent tweed ride!)

This Saturday, January 16th 2009, C.I.C.L.E. hosts our Urban Gardens Ride.

Meet at 12noon the Bicycle Kitchen, 706 North Heliotrope Drive, L.A. 90029. Located very close to the corner of Heliotrope Drive and Melrose Avenue –  three short blocks west of Vermont Avenue, and a very short bike ride from the Vermont/Santa Monica Metro Red Line Station. Ride departs at 12:30pm. It’s free! Beginner-friendly and family friendly – about 6 miles – relatively flat. If you want, RSVP for the ride on Facebook – or just show up!

The lettuce is one winter crop that's doing well in the LAEV gardens. It really enjoyed this morning's rain.

If you’ve been hoping to get a shorter cheaper greener harder better faster stronger (compared to our regular 3-hour LAEV  tours) introduction to Los Angeles Eco-Village, then this ride is for you. We’ll be doing a walk-through of the eco-village gardens, including lots of fruit trees, greywater, rainwater harvesting, chickens, and more. At the end of the block, we’ll also briefly tour the Bresee Foundation’s Bimini Slough Ecology Park (watch this excellent video introduction to the innovative park project that closed a block of 2nd Street to re-create part of a historic creek.)

The ride will tour a couple of other local community gardens: Francis Avenue Community Garden and Rosewood Community Garden. It will also introduce folks to the future 4th Street Bicycle Boulevard, and pay a visit to Mama’s Hot Tamales.

Come on down and ride with us this Saturday!

(Cross-posted at the LAEV blog and the LAEV Garden Blog. Interested party note: the author of this post, eco-village resident Joe Linton, works for C.I.C.L.E.!)