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Thanksgiving Feasting from the Garden

malabar spinach with lima beans

Shalimar was nice enough to share her Thanksgiving cooking from the garden experience with LAGG:

"I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving and nutritious meals.

"For my family's Thanksgiving, I modified the traditional saag paneer by adding lima beans instead of paneer (Indian cheese). I blanched the malabar spinach before putting in the blender. And added red chiles and nasturtium from the garden too." 

One gardener said she was unable to acquire a taste for malabar spinach because, "It is slimy."

Shalimar offered this advice:

"As I was stirring the blended spinach in the pan, I noticed it was slimy and knew that bottom would never burn. It was like magic and fun. When it cooled down, the slime disappeared. We enjoyed the spinach dish at Thanksgiving dinner. It retained the color and flavor without any slime. So, it may be heat has something to do with it. I added tender green stems and fruit seeds to the dish as well.

"More cooking suggestions:

  • If you are cooking lentils, add a handful of leaves last.
  • If you are cooking spinach by itself, as soon as you notice slime, add either a little coconut milk or regular dairy milk. That eliminates the slime and leaves a good sauce.
  • Of course, I add garlic, ginger, turmeric and red and black pepper to taste.

"I am thinking of adding a little bit of fava bean flour to thicken it for my next batch."

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Does Your Car Have Smashed Bugs On It?

insects smashed on car bumper

 

I have been noticing this for several decades, actually.  I recall that when we used to go on a day trip, even to the desert, the car window and front grills had an abundance of smashed insects.  When is the last time you noticed this?  It's been years.

The Monarch butterfly is probably at risk for extinction in a few decades, if not sooner. 

We have sprayed so many areas, most roadsides, and urban growth has swallowed up  land.  It's not just a pretty thing - the Monarch is the strikingly beautiful "canary in the coal mine" for our natural environment, an easy to see example of the insect world.  Climate change and urban development, large scale farming is killing many insects, many whose important roles in the ecosystem are still unknown to most people..  They are an important key species for other animals in the natural food chain. 

Have you noticed as I have, that there are fewer song birds also?  Still plenty of crows and pigeons though.

We need to be much more mindful of our actions while we try to wipe out "pests".  We may be wiping out forever, the natural balances that are part of our world.

Read more about this in linked Bug Squad article, "Insect Apocalypse: Where Have All the Insects Gone?"

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Native Plant Gardening and Chumash Lore

Los Angeles Public Library presents a talk by LAGG's Master Gardener, Florence Nishida:

Native Plant Gardening and Chumash Lore

 

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Look out for these pests in your garden!

Recently, we've been finding treehoppers, a harmful insect, in our teaching garden. Here's a message from Florence on how to find and clear the garden of these pests: 

Hi everyone, 

I want to be sure you keep and eye out for Treehoppers - the adult is very hard to spot because it's keel-shaped (like a sale, or a rose thorn) and green. It looks just like part of the plant stem.

The masses of juvenile stages, "nymphs", are quite different - blackish, and very spiney.  They are plant juice suckers and you'll often see their damage on plants before seeing the bugs themselves. Treehopper damage makes plant stems get brown and scaly, leaves drop off, the plant looks as if it's not getting water because  the bugs are sucking the life out of the stems. In our teaching garden, our wonderful Sungold tomato is under siege, also the eggplants near the tomatoes. Though they look menacing, these bugs are not to be feared -- just squish the nymphs and adults with a gloved finger. Note: the adults jump very quickly. You need to be fast! and brave!

Here are some photos for reference: 

Black nymphs and green adults

 

Can you spot the adult treehopper and the damage its done to this tomato plant? 

 

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Don't Miss Out On These Free Gardening Workshops!

Hi Green Grounders, 
Check out the flyer below to learn more about some great free monthly gardening workshops. They're on the second Saturday of the month at the South L.A. Wetlands on Avalon.
At this Saturday's workshop (8/11) there will be tomato tasting!
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A Fantastic Edible Green: Sweet Potato Leaves

Florence was working in her garden this week when she discovered one of her new favorite edible greens: sweet potato leaves! 

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My Japanese sweet potato (which I planted 2 years ago) keeps popping up new green leaves, despite my harvesting many sweet potatoes this late spring.  I wanted to keep my bulb onions, beets, and beans growing in that bed, so I'd been yanking the sweet potato greens out.  But I thought, "How wasteful!" so, after making sure that they are truly safe and edible, I cooked some and they were delicious!  Now I'm a fan of the greens - they have more vitamins and nutrients than many other green vegetables, have a delightful slightly sweet taste, have beneficial anti-oxidants, and are quick and easy to cook.  I will plant those in the LA Green Grounds teaching garden soon and they will grow for a long time, giving us healthy greens to harvest.  Yes, like many dark green edible plants, they have oxalic acid, but they have much less than regular spinach!
Here's a link, so you can read yourself, a scientific study:
Keep eating fresh vegetables!  There are so many easy-to-grow greens that are quick to cook, tasty, and you don't have to wait months for the harvest, such as with peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, etc.
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Delicious Fresh Amaranth Recipe

amaranth recipeFlorence shared a delicious amaranth recipe she used for the freshly harvested crop from the LAGG Teaching Garden.

The amaranth tasted a bit sweet. Was good with the Indian spices. The garbanzos add protein, so this could be vegetarian dish. Amaranth grows so easily, quickly, and is beautiful.

RECIPE:

I made a very tasty dish with amaranth that I cut last week. I sauteed bacon, added onions with spices (mustard seed, cumin seed, turmeric, in hot oil. Cook for abiout 5-7 min. Added chopped red pepper, stirred and cooked. Added 2 small potatoes cut into 1" cubes, stirred and cooked for few minutes. Added a tomato, diced. Added washed, chopped amaranth leaves and a couple of chard leaves, stirred. Add a can of garbanzo beans. Added some vegetable stock (you could use water), put on cover, and simmered for about 15 -20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. I added a bit of cayenne pepper.

 

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Water Rate Hike: Day of Action

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As you’ve heard, agricultural water rates in the city of Los Angeles are set to go up nearly 300% over the next few years, and the increases have already begun. Our partners at the Los Angeles Community Garden Council are working to mitigate the potentially devastating effects of these hikes, and have organized a Day of Action at City Hall to make their case to local lawmakers.

The concern is that this increased expense will threaten the very existence of many gardens, especially those in underserved neighborhoods, and will deny people the opportunity to provide food for their families. By allowing these hikes to take place, the DWP contradicts the many efforts that the City Council and the Mayor have made in recent years to promote community gardens, urban agriculture and urban greening efforts in general.

We will be asking council members to include long-term budgetary support for gardens that will see increases in the range of hundreds and even thousands of dollars per billing period. We would like to see the city invest in the community garden and urban ag movement.

Please join us for this urgent effort. Numbers will make the difference.

If you intend to come, please RSVP and let us know which council district you live in (if you live in the City of LA).

And please wear green!

If you are unable to join us July 28, please sign the petition and return to dcampos.lacgc@gmail.com, and/or call your city council member.

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Bordered Plant Bug - Another Pest

This past winter's rains have been wonderful for many plants, but also has encouraged some pests that perhaps were held back by the drought. I noticed the small shiny black bugs (ca. 3/8") about 2 months ago, but I wasn't sure what they were feeding on (not much sign of damage), or what they were.

They became very numerous and some developed red areas. Not exactly the Bagrada bug, but abundant like them. Then the chard developed huge holes. I also noticed some larger bugs - tan to light brown with rough looking wing covers, longish triangular shaped, with distinctive pale orange margins.

I started catching the black bugs by scraping them up into the cap of a jar which I had filled with soapy water, and tossing them into the water.

The museum entomology staffer said they were nymph stages and couldn't be identified.

Yesterday, I caught two copulating brown and orange margined adults, threw them in alcohol and thought at least I'd find out what they are. Eureka! Another entomology staffer found this website that had my mystery black bugs along with the very different adults. So they were one and the same! The adult is on p. 112 in Hogue's Insects of Los Angeles Basin. The website has the various stages. 

They're Largus cinctus or Largus californicus (a more systematic individual will need to resolve whether they are one or two species, or a variety). You can call them the "Bordered Plant Bug". Innocuous name - but I'd start trapping them before they over-run your vegetables.

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Spring Harvest!

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Some ladies from the neighborhood helped us make kohlrabi fries
for after school kids yesterday. They were fascinated with this new
veggie!

Per Florence 's suggestion we separated some of the baby succulents
and will give them as gifts to our tutoring volunteers. Kids painted
pots.

As we dug up out wildflowers to make way for summer garden, lo and
behold there where carrots and onions growing up amongst the flowers!
All my helpers yesterday went home with a carrot.

Thanks for your support in helping our garden grow!!

Sarah

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