A few of us go together to enjoy working in LAGG's Teaching Garden Saturday, December 15. After taking down a trellis, planting more lettuce, rescuing eggplant from treehoppers, refueling the compost and watering, we shared a fabulous, vegetarian lunch. Everyone brought something to share and it was yummy! Most of the dishes included homegrown ingredients.
Florence kindly made and shared fragrant herb-infused vinegar in lovely bottles. I can't wait to try mine.
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."
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?"
Some nice shots from the 2018 Fandangobon, including LAGG Dig-In homeowners Sandra and Roberto Aquilar, LAGG table folks: Summer Vernon, Dorry Guerra, Florence Nishida), and food pioneers and event organizers (Nobuko Miyamoto, Amy Honijyo, Cathy Masaoka).
LAGG has been part of Fandangobon since 2016.
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:
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?
Florence was working in her garden this week when she discovered one of her new favorite edible greens: sweet potato leaves!
Florence 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.
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.
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 email@example.com, and/or call your city council member.