As we roll into the harvest and holiday season, or the fourth quarter, depending upon your altar of worship, this is a time to reassess. Not only are we clearing the beds and fields of debris and remnants of summer’s growth, but the wise gardener is looking ahead. It’s not too late for winter lettuces, carrots, beets, broccoli, radishes, scallions, Swiss chard, peas, bok choi, par-cel and cabbage, to name a few. It’s also a great time to plan for spring days, which bring longer daylight hours and soil temps above 55 degrees. If you’re not sure what that has to do with gardening, maybe it’s time for long-range planning. That’s right, you need an education!
One of the cheapest ($150, or less for low-income participants) and easiest ways of learning all things related to growing healthy and economical food is the University of California Cooperative Extension Los Angeles Common Ground Garden Program. Its Master Gardener Volunteer Training Program is a bonanza of practical information that comes with certification, in case your partner wants to know where exactly you’ve been for the past 13 Saturdays. To get the certificate you do have to attend class and pass the open-book exam at the session’s end, so this isn’t a Get Out of Jail Free card for misbehavior.
The program is open to all residents of L.A. County, as long as you have an e-mail address and a computer with internet access. Fifty of about 200 applicants are accepted each session. Part of the deal is that you will share your training as a community volunteer at your choice of venues. Schools, senior centers, community gardeners or the Master Gardener telephone hotline are some of the poosibilities, with countless continuing-education options. Study topics include basic plant science, propagation, fertilization, irrigation, soil, compost, vegetable, herb and fruit gardening, flowering plants and trees, Integrated Pest Management (diseases, weeds, insects, small animals), tools, how to start community and school gardens, and outreach techniques.
This is a relatively quick way to gain scientific and practical knowledge from experienced gardeners so you, too, can finally achieve a (nearly) foolproof garden. January 15th is the last day to request an application packet, and completed applications, along with Livescan fingerprinting and payment, are due by January 31st. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, or call 323.260.3348 — or go to the web site here.
In the mood for a shorter lesson plan? How about a three-hour workshop? Join me Saturday, November 28 at 11 a.m. for a living-wreath-making class at Motif Gifts, 1389 Washington Boulevard (at Hill) in Pasadena. We will be building succulent wreaths that will last for years in a protected doorway or on a holiday table.
Wear comfortable work clothing (no open-toed shoes, even though many think that’s de rigeur in California) and bring nimble gardening or dishwashing gloves and a bottle of water to stay hydrated.I’ll provide frames, soil, moss, succulents and step-by-step guidance, so you can take Make a Living Wreath off your bucket list. The cost is $75 in advance, $85 on the morning of the event, and reservations and prepayment are required (626.398.5038). We’ll be working outside, so participants should feel comfortable standing at a table for a few hours and must be able to lift and carry their wreath to their car. Can’t make it on the 21st? We’ll be offering this workshop again Saturday, November 28, after Thanksgiving. We are thankful to Teddy Colbert for developing the technique we’ll follow and for blazing the trail with this beautiful ornamentation. If you are busier than a in bee in springtime and can’t join us, buy Colbert’s book, The Living Wreath, which is loaded with great photos, examples and clear instruction.