Kevin picked and shared some of his fabulous mustard greens this week. I sautéed a bit of bacon and them added some of what I had on hand: mushrooms, squash, and garlic. I tossed in the greens. Yum! Super delicious. The greens were incredibly delicious.
- Florence Nishida, Master Gardener and LAGG Founder
With a little bit of leftover chicken, last night’s string beans, and the small kuri squash I’d been letting cure, I made a tasty fast dish flavored with miso and a dash of soy sauce.
~ FlorenceRead more
- First, I cut up the kuri and saved the seeds for planting next spring.
- Then I sautéed the kuri until lightly brown and removed from pan.
- In same pan, I sautéed the chicken that I had cut into bite-sized pieces.
- I then tossed the kuri back into the pan, added 1 T miso, small bits of small julienned ginger, leftover green beans (you can also use or chard or spinach), dash of soy sauce, add enoki (or any kind of) mushrooms.
- Heat and stir all.
- Serve with rice and a green vegetable.
Denise Shiozawa published Master Gardener Monthly Spotlights LAGG's Kevin Ridley in In the Media 2021-10-02 13:42:20 -0700
Hi all good gardeners, cooks, and enthusiastic eaters of fresh produce.
Here's a simple, tasty, EASY stir fry to make.
I had some pretty old (in fridge over a week) parts of a chicory plant and didn't want to waste it. And a bit of broccoli (not my favorite brassica). So starting with sliced or chopped onions, a minced garlic, and oil, I flavored the pan, and then threw in the greens and about 1/4 cup water to steam. The crowning touch is the mushroom - you can get those at most Asian markets. They're called "shimeji" or "beech" mushrooms. Put them in at the last 2 minutes, so they're nice and chewy. Flavor with oyster sauce, a bit of soy sauce, maybe ginger, and red pepper - mix into your stirred up greens.
ALL greens taste best when freshly harvested or purchased, but if they ended up at the back of your refrigerator, this is a good way to not waste.
- Florence Nishida, Master Gardener
Denise Shiozawa published LAGG is Sprouting More Than Just Plants! in Blog 2021-09-29 17:04:08 -0700
A new item has sprouted up at L.A. Green Grounds. It grows on the inside, needs no water, and with luck will never fail. It’s a library.
The library can be found in a wooden box painted yellow and blue, at the junction of Carmona and Boden avenues. Next time you are near the garden, take a look at what’s on the shelves and take a book that appeals to you. Or, if you have books you’ve read and want to pass on, please leave them in the little library for others.
LAGG has the library thanks to the efforts of Veronica, one of the garden volunteers. She contacted the Downtown L.A. Rotary Club; one of its members had built a library in her neighborhood. Ronnie of the Inglewood Rotary Club donated the free library to L.A. Green Grounds; the chapter built and installed it on Sept. 14.
Since then, many books for all ages have been donated and borrowed.
One of the goals of the service organization is to increase literacy, so the libraries fit right in.
Plants of the LA Green Grounds teaching garden located at Boden St & Carmona Ave, Los Angeles 90016
Inventory Date: 7/3/2021
Apple (“Fuji”, “Red delicious x Virginia Rails Janet) Malus pumila
Banana (“dwarf Cavendish”) Musa acuminata
Fig (green) Ficus carica
Guava (Mexican) Psidium guajava
Guava (red Indian) Psidium guajava
Guava (pineapple) Feijoa sellowiana
Ice Cream Bean tree Inga edulis
Jujube Ziziphus jujube
Lemon (“Meyer”) Citrus x meyeri
Loquat Eriobotrya japonica
Mandarin Citrus reticulata
Pomegranate (“Wonderful”) Punica granatum
Sour Sop Annona muricata
Artichokes (“Globe”, “Italian purple”)
Chrysanthemum, edible “shungiku”
Letuuce “Simpson black seeded”, romaine
(“Blue Lake” beans, pole;
Yard long beans; bush beans;
Scarlet runner beans
Pigeon peas (black eyed beans)
Sugar snap peas
CABBAGE (brassica) family:
Brussels sprouts, purple
Cabbage “Violacea di Verona”
Cauliflower “sprouting cauliflower”, yellow Romanesco cauliflower
Chinese cabbage (bok choy, napa, loose leaf)
Collard greens: “Southern Georgia”, “Green Glaze”
Kale: dinosaur/black kale, frilly blue kale, Portuguese kale
Mizuna (Chinese mustard)
Mustard greens, Chinese mustard greens, Japanese purple mustard
Radish- red, breakfast, cylindrical, daikon
Beets: golden beets, Chioggia, Detroit red, cylindrical
Chard: rainbow chard
SOLANUMS (potato-tomato) family:
Peppers: “shishito”, “serrano”, “poblano”, “padron”, red
Potato: white, butter ball, red-skinned
Tomato, “Juliet”, “Paul Robeson”, berry, “sungold”, “Better boy”
MELON (cucurbits) family
Cucumber: “suyo”, “Jibai shimshirazu”, pickling
Squash, summer: zucchini, yellow crooked neck, delicata
Squash, winter: “Kuri,” “Kabocha”
Watermelon, “Baby doll”
Egyptian walking onions
Japanese bunching onions
Toyon, aka California ‘holly’ (Heteromeles arbutifolia), CA native
Lemonade berry (Rhus integrifolia), CA native
Desert Mountain Turpentine Brush (Ericameria laricifolia) CA native
Mule fat (Baccheris salicifolia), CA native
Sagebrush (Artemisia pycnocephala), CA native
Desert bush sunflower (Encelia farinose), CA native
Red sage bush (Salvia ‘greggii’), Texas cultivar
California poppy (Escholzia californica), CA native
Sage (Salvia officinalis)
Marjoram (Oreganum majoranum)
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
Shiso, (Perilla frutescens var. crispa)
Shungiku (Chrysanthemum coronilla)
Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum)
- CLICK ON LINK TO MONTHLY CALENDAR BELOW.
- You may be prompted to log into your Google account.
- Then on DATE to ADD/REMOVE YOURSELF for volunteer day at the LAGG's Teaching Garden.
SHIFTS: Tuesdays or Saturdays 10am - 2pm.
Maximum: 6 persons at a time.
Be sure you have a signed, completed Release on file with Florence.
Volunteers in the garden need to be vaccinated, wear a mask except for eating and drinking, and maintain at least 3 feet distance at all times.
LAGG Founder and Master Gardener Florence Nishida shares how shiso, a Japanese herb (perilla in English) can be dried and then crumpled and used to make furikake. Furikake (furi means scatter and kake means put on in Japanese) is a condiment commonly used on top of rice and cold tofu. Florence made hers with the shiso, salt, sesame seeds, cayenne pepper and a little dash of sugar. Seaweed is a commonly included ingredient. Florence shows the rice balls she made, topped with a sprinkle of the furikake.
Florence also shared kuri and how she cooked it. Kuri is an orange-fleshed, meaty squash. It can be used in any dish that other squash and potatoes are used.
The most difficult part in preparing kuri is cutting it open. The skin is very hard, but once cooked it is soft and edible.
- Cut the kuri into chunks.
- Saute in sesame oil until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
- Make 2 cups dashi (a fish and seawood stock) broth: boil water and add a package of dashi and mix.
- Add broth to kuri, along with 1 Tbs. of soy sauce, a little mirin, and 1 tsp of sugar.
- Cover pot with lid and simmer over low heat for about 10-15 minutes.
Video credit: Chad Cole
Denise Shiozawa published National History Museum Interview of Florence Nishida in In the Media 2021-08-14 15:37:57 -0700
Maybe those cucumber vines in your garden are growing heavy with fruit these days, though it’s not always easy to find the cucumbers amid the leaves and stems. At LA Green Grounds, we’ve got some productive plants trained to grow up a trellis, and we’ve been harvesting for a few weeks.
Many kinds of cucumbers are out there, for salads and snacks -- and of course for pickles. These could hardly be easier to make. Florence (Nishida) brought some homemade pickles to the garden recently, made from a Rachael Ray recipe. It’s below, tweaked just a bit. Try it, or find one that suits you; there are hundreds out there.
Remember, these pickles must be refrigerated, because they have not been processed to be shelf-stable. That’s why they are called “quick.” Feel free to change the spices, or to use other sorts of cucumbers, or other vegetables such as turnips, radishes or okra.
Quick Pickles (Rachael Ray)
Makes 4 servings
½ cup white vinegar
2 rounded tsp sugar
1 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, cracked
2 T. fresh dill
1 bay leaf
4 pickling (or other) cucumbers, cut into 1-inch slices on an angle
In a small saucepan set over medium-high heat, put vinegar, sugar, mustard seed, salt and garlic. Cook until the sugar dissolves, and bring the liquid to a simmer.
In a glass jar just big enough to hold them, add the cucumber pieces and the dill. Pour the simmering liquid into the jar, cover tightly and shake to spread the ingredients.
Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate after one day. You can eat these the next day, or a leave a few days -- your preference.
I became a volunteer at LA Green Grounds after the lockdowns of Covid-19 had changed everything. That meant I could work at the garden, but either alone or with one or two very distanced and masked people. It meant our meetings were on Zoom. And most important, it meant that a hallmark of the organization – Dig Ins – were off the table.
On Tuesday, June 8, I am so happy to say, I went to my first Dig In. And it was every bit as meaningful as promised by Florence Nishida, LA Green Grounds founder.
At a Dig-In, a resident in South Los Angeles invites family and friends. And LA Green Grounds brings volunteers. Together, they install a front-yard edible garden that offers the neighborhood fresh produce, a sense of community, and the knowledge of how wonderful it is to grow your own food.
“Dig-Ins are real work, but a heap of fun, too,” Florence says.
“It was hard work as always but just great what can be accomplished with many hands (and arms, backs and legs!),” said LA Green Grounds volunteer Grace Yamamura.
Dozens of Dig-In gardens have been installed around South LA, and on June 8, volunteers gathered to reboot the garden at the home of Sarah and Scott Yetter, just south of Pico Boulevard in the Pico Union neighborhood.
The garden was put in about six years ago, but needed some love – in the form of weeding and new plantings, including a hallmark of summer: tomatoes. It’s a garden that’s an integral part of the community. Sarah runs a preschool program at the First Free Evangelical Church that using the garden. They hold community dinners twice a month.
When the volunteers showed up, it was clearly a hub of activity. A teenager in the house was taking his AP calculus test. Kids came in and out of the house. Interns from next door were part of the work crew.
The LA Green Grounds team included Florence’s 16-year-old grandson, Kai Ogawa who was visiting and said he felt the experience made him a “real Angeleno.”
It may be a while still before we can schedule new Dig-Ins, but if you are interested in turning your front yard into an organic edible garden, complete a garden application.
Contributor: Mary MacVean
LA Green Gounds is joining a science project organized by the science writer at KPCC, Jacob Margolis. It’s called the Ozone Project, and will have LAGG and other volunteer growers all over the city growing beans to study the impact of ozone stress on plant health.
As Margolis wrote recently, the air above our city is among the country’s worst, specifically for ground-level ozone, which is an unhealthful byproduct “of the sun and heat baking all of the toxic emissions we pump into the sky.”
Margolis decided to set up a citizen science project in which people would receive beans to plant – one variety that shows ozone damage and one that does not. Of course, the growers won’t know which is which.Read more
LAGG took beans to plant in our garden but also to distribute to growers in the adjacent community garden and to our volunteers.
“When plants take up carbon dioxide through tiny little holes in their leaves called stomata, they end up taking in the air pollution around them as well. Once the ozone enters the plant, it acts as if it’s being attacked by some sort of pathogen and works to drop the impacted leaves (usually the oldest), to stop the problem from spreading,” Margolis wrote.
He wants us citizen scientists to post updates every week – including photos on social media with hashtag #ozonebeans and @jacobmargolis. Margolis can be reached at [email protected]
In three Victory Garden classes on Zoom, Florence Nishida brought LA Green Grounds to life with pictures and descriptions. But with just days before the final class, we got word that classes could be held outdoors, in person. Limit 10 people. Distanced, with masks. Time to reshuffle the plans and welcome students in two groups to the garden.
Everyone knew how much better the experience would be for the students, who were split into two groups to abide by the rules. Kevin Ridley, Mary MacVean and Florence’s husband, Gordon, helped shepherd the students around the garden on a hot Sunday for demonstrations and chances to try weeding, watering, harvesting and more.
If you are interested in taking a Victory Garden class, offered through the Master Gardener program, watch this space or other gardening blogs for the fall dates.
Kevin Ridley brought a worm farm to class and explained how he feeds his wriggling castings creators.
One great aspect of growing fava beans or other legumes is that they are nitrogen powerhouses, fixing it in the soil with their roots and adding it when the stalks are chopped and “forked” into the soil, as these will be.
Success! Earwigs trapped.
An easy recipe for keeping insects away from plants
We imagine there can't be many gardens that haven't been invaded by snails or slugs, earwigs or roly polys. Many gardeners just turn away in annoyance, and sacrifice some of their harvest. But there are easy ways to fight back.
At LA Green Grounds, founder Florence Nishida made bait that appealed to the bugs' natural attraction to the smell of fermentation: a bit of vegetable oil and a bit of vinegar or soy sauce in an open-top shallow can, such as cat food or tuna. The oil keeps the insects from swimming on the top of the liquid and climbing out of the can.
If you water, watch for the traps, so you don't spill the contents out onto your plant beds. And move the can to various locations, best near the base of a chewed-up plant, or in the corners, or under the shade of large leaves.
Most of these invertebrates stay sheltered during sunny days, and come out and feed in the evenings.
When your trap is full, discard and refill it with the bait if necessary.Read more
It was a very long May day at the garden - Gordon and I left at 8 pm (he was painstakingly cutting up all his prunings to fit in the trash can). But it was worth staying late because I had the most splendid visitors!
A mother and her two young children wandered into the garden, probably the children leading. They were very spirited and sweet - a fine combination. The boy declared -"Are there vegetables here? I like vegetables!" Of course I was delighted. So, the children got a tour and taste of almost everything. I also gave a stern warning that they were never to eat anything unless it was given to them by a teacher (maybe that's not the best advice) or their mother - because some things are not safe to eat. "You mean they're poisonous?" he asked. Yes! I said, and showed them the flowering pea, and showed them how to see the difference between them and edible peas. I hope they remember.
The boy asked such good questions, and both were a real delight with their enthusiasm and good cheer and open nature. I spoke to the mother, who is from Guatemala, in Spanish when I realized she wasn't catching everything - and she immediately relaxed and began to ask questions. She was interested in the compost. All three were interested in the Pigeon pea.
His first taste of loquat. "A little sweet, like an apricot, but also a little sour like lemon". He liked the sour.
A young couple wandered in at almost the same time. She had been in the garden before, and was drawn to it because she was delighted in and taken a course about California native plants. But she also loved vegetables. So they also got tastes and surprises in the garden. The two groups were totally unrelated - wandered in on their own - and live within 2-3 blocks away.
I was so happy!
~ FlorenceRead more
The weeds at LA Green Grounds may have thought they had us beat, but the weeding party on a recent Saturday let them know they were wrong.
Weeds had proliferated on the berm at the south edge of the farm and all around our orchard. And plenty of other spots, too. For a few weeks now, Garden Keepers have been pulling them whenever they could. But a whole group took them on and dug out heaps of weeds, which Chad crammed into two trash containers and several bags.
Many thanks to Veronica, Gordon, Suzanne, Chad, Naba, Catherine and Florence. A special "Shout Out" to Mr. Forte, a 93 year-old long-time Good Earth Community Garden member who grubbed out those weeds with a hand mattock, and had previously weed-whacked a bunch of unsightly and vigorous weeds in "No Man's Land" near our LAGG teaching garden. Also, thanks to Jay, whose guitar playing helped keep everyone in tune. And finally to the ice cream vendor whose paletas de Michoacan eased the effort for everyone, with flavors including coconut, walnut, jamaica, guanabana, strawberry, coffee and mango.
Contributor: Garden Keeper Mary M.
It’s easy to take for granted the plants that grow in abundance without much human work, but a new set of eyes often can see those plants in a new way. So it went with the LA Green Grounds patches of New Zealand spinach.
New Zealand spinach is not native to this continent, but comes from New Zealand and Australia, South America and some Pacific islands. It’s drought-tolerant and often used as an edible landscape plant because it forms a lush green carpet.
One of our LAGG Garden Keepers, Veronica Anderson, took some home from LA Green Grounds to try. She found this website that's full of New Zealand spinach recipes: http://recipesfortom.blogspot.com/2012/09/tsuruna-new-zealand-spinach.html. Thanks, Veronica! It’s also good steamed or stir-fried with a bit of olive oil, garlic and salt; and on pasta or pizza. Some people eat it raw.
While it’s not actually a spinach, the taste is similar, especially when cooked. It’s high in vitamins A and C and a good source of calcium.
The famous Capt. Cook took New Zealand spinach onto one of his ships, where people ate it to prevent scurvy; and Sir Joseph Banks, an explorer and botanist, introduced it to England in 1772.
The plant is a halophyte, meaning it is salt-tolerant. It likes heat, and seems unaffected by most pests. If you plant it, give it room to spread.
~ Contributed by LAGG Garden Keeper Mary M.Read more
These lovely orange flowers have become a not uncommon sight in salads, in part because they're a beautiful contrast to lettuces and in part because they're delicious -- a little sweet and peppery. They're Nasturtium flowers, and they grow freely in gardens and in uncultivated places, bringing color and liveliness as they climb the sides of buildings, fences, slopes and in many spots at LA Green Grounds. But many people don't know that the rest of the plant is edible, too. The stems and leaves can go in a stir-fry, and the seed pods can be pickled like capers or tossed into salads. LA Green Grounds volunteer Kat shows various ways she cooked the plant in these pictures.
“Pruning is an art,” says Florence Nishida, the founder of LA Green Grounds.
And a daunting one at that.
Fruit trees are pruned in their dormant stage, and several needed winter pruning at the garden, including the fig, stone fruit and pomegranate trees. So, with attention to Covid-19 social distancing, three people gathered with Florence to do some pruning.
Pruning is done to keep a tree at a particular size, to keep the tree healthy and to ensure bountiful fruit. And that’s just the start. Particular branches should be cut – as Florence noted, the three Ds: dead, deranged and diseased branches. And the cuts need to be made in particular ways. For instance, cuts should be made cleanly, just above a node of new growth.
It’s important to learn from someone who knows how to prune, or to hire an experienced person. If you want to learn more, we recommend taking a look at a book called, reasonably enough, How to Prune Fruit Trees, by R. Sanford Martin. It’s a small book, originally published in 1944, and covers dozens of varieties.
LA Green Grounds Co-Founder Florence Nishida, botanist, mycologist and life-long gardener, joined the Master Gardeners of Los Angeles County in 2008 after retiring from careers in teaching (English- LAUSD), editorial research at Time Inc., and research in mycology at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM).
In 2010, as one of the initial Master Gardeners tasked with setting up gardening classes in Los Angeles, Nishida was daunted at the lack of suitable sites: schools and churches preferred asphalted grounds for parking. Thus, she proposed creating a teaching garden to the museum. It became a prototype for the Erika J. Glazer edible garden.
As a child, Nishida moved to the south Los Angeles neighborhood of the Natural History Museum following release from a WWII Japanese/Japanese-American internment camp. Aware that South Los Angeles suffers from high rates of diet-related disease, exacerbated by the lack of healthy food resources, i.e. aka a “food desert,” her principal goals as a gardening teacher was to provide opportunities for residents to access better diet, health, and food security.
She recruited her museum students, community members, and USC students from the fall 2010 Grow LA Victory Garden class to join her in starting the non-profit she envisioned. This became LA Green Grounds whose mission was to teach south Los Angeles residents how to grow their own food in easily visible front yard gardens, with the intent that homeowners would mutually share their bounty; thus ending the "food desert" in the neighborhood. Bringing together neighbors and volunteers from greater Los Angeles, LA Green Grounds promotes access to fresh food, gardening knowledge and healthy eating habits to the community.
Co-founder Vanessa Vobis was a TA at Nishida's first Grow LA Victory Garden class held at the Natural History Museum. Among other roles, Vobis successfully recruited participants for LAGG events, e.g., Nature Fest and Sustainable Sundays. Initial meetings were held at Vobis' home, located near the USC campus.
Co-founder Ron Finley was a local resident and activist who was keenly interested in gardening and attended the first year's gardening fall class. Known for his outspoken and gregarious nature, many became aware of LA Green Grounds through Finley's TED Talk about the parkway garden controversy. This talk has been viewed over four millions times. Finley has since moved on to his own initiatives and founded Ron Finley Projects.
In 2016, LA Green Grounds started its own teaching garden in Los Angeles with monthly workshops, e.g., container gardening, growing and using herbs, pruning, children’s workshops and hand-on learning-while-volunteering gardening opportunities. LAGG’s Teaching Garden is unique in several ways: a variety of uncommon or ‘ethnic’ vegetables and herbs expose people to new foods; native plants provide habitat for wildlife in a natural setting, a succulent and native plants border present attractive drought-tolerant landscaping, and the open, unfenced green space is enjoyed by neighbors, visitors, and gardening students as a sanctuary.
Board of Directors
In 2021, LA Green Grounds filed for and was accepted as its own standalone 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization. The Board of Directors is comprised of the following:
- Florence Nishida Hendler - Executive Director
- Mary MacVean - Secretary
- Grace Yamamura - Treasurer
- Catherine Fuller - Director
Messages to LA Green Grounds can be sent to [email protected].
LA Green Grounds is unfunded by large grants, and is a 100% volunteer organization, relying upon donations to fulfill our mission. We invite you to donate to support our ending food deserts. Tax ID #86-2413933.