Mushrooms and Other Visitors and Residents of the Garden

A garden is a lot of things - food for humans, but not only for humans. 

Spiders like some "pest" insects, e.g. pill bugs (eat seedlings), ear wigs (eat lettuce, artichoke, beans).  Our least favorite insects this past summer were the tree hoppers - plant suckers with scary looking nymphs (that would scare away most predators).  The tree hoppers destroyed our incredibly eggplant plants ("Millionaire").  We were sorry to see them go down - made new eggplants for months.

And last week, I found fresh new mushrooms.  It's a look-alike for the deadly Amanita ocreata.  Look-alike is not same as.  These in the garden were perfectly safe - and edible.  Volvopluteus gloiocephala - pretty with pink spores.  I took them to show my beginners' mushroom identification class last night. 

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LAGG Shares Mission at LA Nature Fest


LA NATURE FEST - March 16 - 17, 2019

Brigitta and Shalimar showed edible plants to many of the hundreds of people enjoying encounters with nature, animals, and plants at the Natural History Museum's annual "Nature Fest" this past weekend. We are encouraging to plant edibles in their yards and patio. 

They helped kids plant their favorite vegetable or flower seeds (carrots, cucumbers and sunflowers) in paper pots.  The kids can then plant the pot in their gardens or containers.  Others took paper pots of seedling peppers, eggplants and broccoli to plant in their homes.

Thanks to Steve List of Sylmar High School for donating the seedlings.

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Mushrooms - Our Favorite Fungi?

Morel growing in the LA Green Grounds Teaching Garden


Occasionally, we'll see mushrooms fruiting in our LAGG Teaching Garden. It's always a pleasure! Some are even edible - if we find them in time. One never knows if or when they'll appear. They're not harming anything. Just minding their business, earning their living by decomposing organic material - of which we have plenty in the teaching garden, since we keep the paths and planted beds mulched, to conserve and preserve water, keep down weeds, and feed the soil and our plants as it breaks down.

This morel above came up just behind the compost bin and in with the peas. If we'd found it earlier (and fresher), would have been very tasty.

agaricus bisporus gills Topanga

This photo was from my home garden, but I did find one in the LAGG garden that was a bit over the hill. It's a decomposer, so it likely arrived on the woody mulch. I wish we could cultivate it - it's a good mushroom - the one you get at the grocery store.




Psathyrella: here is another common, safe mushroom that grows on woody mulch.






chlorophyllum molybditeschlorophyllum molybdites

The Chlorophyllum molybdites is one that can show up in gardens (see Natural History Museum's garden bed, when I taught a couple of years ago), lovely to look at, but has green spores (on gills), and poisonous if you eat it.

Someday, we might do a mushroom growing project in one of our beds. How does that sound?

- Florence, LAGG Founder, Master Gardener, Teacher and Mycologist


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"Mulch" by Linda Hasseslstrom


Thank you for coming out on Saturday to give yourself and your time to the LAGG teaching garden.  We created/redid 3 vegetable beds, picked up all the trash, blessed the garden, harvested food, and mulched all the pathways - all while making friends, sharing nutritious food from the garden and learning about growing food....

I'd say we were VERY SUCCESSFUL!!  Hopefully you got out of the experience as much as you put into it.  

See more photos in our Gallery.

On behalf of LAGG, we thank you and hope to see you at one of our upcoming events at the garden. 

- Silvia



A mulch is a layer of organic matter
used to control weeds,
preserve moisture,
and improve the fertility of the soil.
You will not find naked soil
in the wilderness.

I started cautiously: newspapers,
hay, a few magazines;
Robert Redford stared up
between the rhubarb and the lettuce.

Then one day, cleaning shelves,
I found some old love letters.
I’ve always burned them,
for the symbolism.
But the ashes, gray and dusty
as old passions,
would blow about the yard for days
stinging my eyes,
bitter on my tongue.

So I mulched them:
gave undying love to the tomatoes,
the memory of your gentle hands
to the squash.
It seemed to do them good,
and it taught me a whole new style
of gardening.

Now my garden is the best in the
and I mulch everything:
bills; check stubs;
dead kittens and baby chicks.
I seldom answer letters; I mulch them
with the plans I made
for children of my own,
photographs of places I’ve been
and a husband I had once;
as well as old bouquets
and an occasional unsatisfactory lover.

Nothing is wasted.

Strange plants push up among the corn,
leaves heavy with dark water,
but there are
no weeds.

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From the Garden: Garbanzo Beans

Garbanzo beans

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From the Garden: Shitake Mushrooms

shitake mushroom

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A Day in the Garden

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. 

We plan to announce new programs for 2019 so please come back and visit often, sign up for our email list, and Like our Facebook page to be notified.

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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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